Stress and AF

Recently I have had a lot of stress with a local company wanting to build a digester right near my house and this is on going. I think it is this that has caused my relatively stable af (supported by dilzem, beta blockers and flecanide plus three ablations) to break down and all weekend I have struggled - mostly when I breath out the fluttering which feels like the sensation when you are very frightened but I am sure it is adrenaline from the arrhythmia. I haven't let it stop me doing anything, went to a donkey show on saturday and yesterday taught riding but it has been really uncomfortable and after a few years of relative stability, disappointing. I don't want it to get any worse but I can't make the digester go away so it is hard to deal with.

11 Replies

  • Stress is known to complicate AF so you may well be right but it may also just be stress you are experiencing. Unless you get a definite ECG trace showing AF you shouldn't make assumptions that the AF is what you are feeling. One side effect of AF is that we all become far to obsessed and aware of every little blip or trill that our hearts do and that in turn causes even more. You have the right attitude in not allowing this to govern you life so well done there. Now you need to address the stress side of things which may be a different kettle of fish as they say.

    I think it was Michael Caine who once used the phrase "use your difficulties" but it is a good way forward. Learn from it and use the experience.


  • It does feel a lot like the symptoms from the last ten years, the missed beats etc and the fluttering but I will go back to Papworth to discuss. I hardly ever bother them and it might be good to see where we are. It just makes me so ridiculously tired at the end of the day.

  • Ectopic beats are not AF nor is fluttering necessarily which could just be tachycardia. AF is a very irregular beat which is also irregular so no pattern at all. Can you take your pulse and feel what is happening? I do know what it feels like as even though I haven't had AF since my third ablation in 2008 I do still get quite a lot of ectopics and short runs of tachycardia. Contact your EP by all means as if nothing else it may re- assure you.


  • I'm pretty good at recognising (and ignoring) AF as I was misdiagnosed and then didn't get to Papworth for a further two years so I got quite good at working out when I had a problem. I can take my pulse yes. Unfortunately my ablations did not completely solve the problem though they helped a great deal. Normally I can manage it pretty well but this weekend could not get back to what I call normal. Probably stress related symptoms as well as you say but the bottom line is I feel like I cannot breathe, my chest is being crushed and my neck hurts but above all is the tiredness which was the absolute hall mark of it before I finally got a diagnosis. It is that tiredness where you don't sleep, its more like falling down a tunnel and you wake up where you started out. So yes I will go and see EP who said to go if I needed him. They were amazingly helpful a couple of years ago and without Papworth I would not be able to work full time. As for managing stress, I have had years of doing that and still not really found an answer.

  • Do you normally get the crushing feeling and pain in the neck with AF? I am not medically trained so when I had them my GP had to tell me to go to A & E asap. I would see your GP at least.

  • Yes its always been part of it but I normally just go to bed as it tends to be at end of day.

  • information is power. I keep a small heart rate/ O2 monitor with me to sort out if I feel anxious, flutter, or actual afib.

  • Hi Liz. It's good to hear from you again but sorry the circumstances aren't better. Let us know how you get on with your E.P. x

  • When my AF started, I believed work related stress was a contributory factor - and as a result it's always something they (and I) have since been very careful with.

    I had gone through rather a messy marriage breakdown in the Feb, moved house and got back to work all in a month..... in the June our shifts changed to be fewer 12.5 days from the usual more 7.5 hours per week......

    I think I was struggling to adjust to these, along with the majority of the workforce, we were running short staffed, people had left.... people who stayed weren't happy... you still try and make the thing work.... then the first bout of annual leave you get, you just hit the wall and relax only to wake up in AF!

    Whilst I don't think it was the singular cause...... I'm fairly sure the work adjustments and circumstances at the time contributed to it or even unearthed a previously undiagnosed heart problem.

  • A lot to handle all at once.

  • You may not like to hear this, but most stress is internally generated. If there's a program like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in your area, I strongly recommend you do it.

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