New Afib...Need Help

Good afternoon folks. I am a 25 year old, regularly active, slightly (barely) overweight individual. Last night after dinner, my wife was following me home in her vehicle. I was on the interstate and noticed I was shaking. I assumed that I was just cold, so I turned the heat on. After about 45 seconds, I checked my pulse and it was incredibly high. I have a 50-60 resting heart rate. It was easily in the 140-150 range. Next, anxiety stepped in. Am I going to die? I throw up...probably from nervousness and my wife rushes me to the ER. I get hooked up to all kinds of machines and get an EKG done. They tell me they see "PVT's" but nothing else beyond stress. So you understand the backdrop...I have been reporting slight chest pain in the left side of my chest for roughly a year. Every doctor I saw told me, "you are a healthy 25 year old adult." When the doc at the ER tried to tell me that, anger came out. I demanded more tests until something was found. Hours later they tell me that I have Afib. I'm sitting on my couch writing this with fluttering. I am nervous. I want to know the steps, where it will go. I don't feel light headed or nauseas. I feel normal minus the hammer in my chest. My wife advised that I am thinking about it too much right now. That may be the case. I find it strange that I'm dealing with this at 25. My grandad did have an ablation at 50...not sure if that matters. I do not smoke or drink.

18 Replies

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  • Welcome and sorry to hear that. Firstly don't worry because it won't kill you!!! The key thing is that it has been picked up. The second good thing is that from what you have said you have paroxysmal AF which is easier and quicker to treat. There will be various tests and monitoring. Make sure that you get referred to an EP (Electrophysiologist) because they are the specialists for arithmyia and are the electricians of the heart.

    Also you will find lots of support on here during your AF journey. Don't forget to look on the main AFA website because they have a large number of pamplets and data sheets.

    Don't try and look 10 steps ahead because there will be a number of junctions on the way to go down and depending on the one chosen each time will determine the next one. You may have to limit some foods, etc and certainly things like coffee, Coke, etc can be triggers. You may just have a predisposition to AF.

    Even though you are 25 ask about anticoagulation in case other things are found. They will use a CHADSVASC scoring system.

    Good luck and let us all know how things are progressing.

  • Hello and welcome to the mad mad world of AF. You are indeed quite young to be diagnosed but we do know that there is often a genetic factor involved as suggested by your Grandfather's history.

    AF won't kill you but it does feel like it sometimes and one of the worst aspects is the way it plays with your head. Knowledge is power so why not go to AF Association website and read all you can about the condition. AF Association is UK based but does have a US branch.

    It would appear from what you say that your version is paroxysmal i. e. it comes and goes. It is generally accepted that AF almost always progresses but life style changes can help enormously. General doctors and most cardiologists do not have the depth of knowledge to deal with AF in most cases. Electrophysiologists are the experts so if you do not get satisfaction from you local doctor then you need to find one and discuss the way forward.

    Bob

  • Welcome to our AF world and the forum. Scary it can be but knowledge helps you learn more and helps with questions for your docs. Write them down so you don't forget. This is a supportive forum and all our journeys are different but we like to lend an ear to everyone.

  • You've made a great step getting onto this Forum. Its helped me get to understand things that I never could otherwise.

    I got into this in August (so newish) shakes and heavy palpitations on and off for a couple of days got me whisked off to A&E and 4 days in hospital AF was diagnosed .

    Through the forum you can pick up everyday stories and thoughts from people that know what it means having AF. It is a great way to learn and exchange thoughts about it. Reading the forum I have come to realise that AF can happen to anyone anytime - young or old fit or unfit. There is no single cause and working out your own trigger might take a while and then it may be out of your control anyway - it s a heck of a learning curve thats for sure .

    As others have often said elsewhere on the forum; dont beat your self up over it and don't let it beat you.

    All the best - good luck for the future.

  • Welcome! Diagnosed at 35. It's scary and you feel helpless but it won't kill you -it's been picked up! It's not easy but meds and ablation will help if need be - hopefully you wont need one! Just remember no body really understands what it is like so just do what suits yourself and have patience - you will feel better soon. Best of luck 🍀

  • Thank you guys. You have no idea how much it means for your kind words. I have had it on and off today. It is definitely in my head. Monday I go to see a cardiologist. It makes me feel better that you "won't die". I have a wife and love her very much. I just want the right steps. My grandad is very high on the ablasion be had done. He said they may take that course of action with how young and healthy I am.

  • Ask if your cardiologist is an EP - electrophysiologist - there are general cardiologists - generally deal with the plumbing - blocked arteries etc - EPs are the electricians - specialize in the electrics and that is what you want.

    Ask for a referral if the guy you see is does not have EP as a speciality.

  • Last question: I have found today (first day after being diagnosed) that I have Afib wayyyy more than ever before. Is it because I am now aware of it?

  • Possibly, or it may be you just have more AF as AF begets more AF.

    You also become MUCH more aware of your heartbeat, especially in bed, AND you become much more anxious which also exacerbates AF and so becomes a vicious circle.

    It is still early days but you must find a way of coping with everyday life and dealing with the anxiety or it will rule you. You do become more used to it and there are many people on this forum in persistent AF who are not aware of their symptoms, the body is geared to hyper alert mode when we sense something unusual, as it becomes less unusual you will find ways of coping.

    Keep posting and ask as many questions as you have, always someone around to answer you and believe me, that really helps, knowing you are not the only one with AF.

  • Food and drinks can trigger AF for some people. If you have AF and it stops after a period of time and then starts at a later time, you should review what you have consumed in that period of time. For me nitrites, sulfites, artificial sugars, msg, certain sugars (not maple syrup) and sometimes other chemicals will trigger AF. Eating at restaurants or while in hospital can be challenging since it is difficult to know what has been added to the food. I only eat in restaurants that don‘t add additives to the food.

    As an example, I cannot eat potatoes purchased at Costco that are sourced in the US. I thought I could not eat potatoes because of the sugar in them. I learned it is not the potatoes; but, I suspect, a preservative is sprayed on the US ones since they last forever. I cannot eat grapes because they are spayed with sulfites even though the package does not state this; but, checking with the supplier confirmed this. In Europe, I can eat many things that I cannot eat in North America. They have different food standards. I read labels but even then I cannot always be sure since labels often are not complete. As an example, I purchased an organic rice blend at Costco. No additives supposedly. Yet every time I eat it, I get AF and I know it is it because the other food I ate with it does not cause AF for me. If you take supplements, read the total list of what is in them, including the non-medicinal contents. Some have artificial sugars and other chemicals. Even things like some toothpaste brands have artificial sugar as an ingredient.

    I do not take medication since the ones I tried, at the very beginning when I knew nothing about AF and trusted the doctors who I hoped did, made my AF worse; and, on top of this, I felt lousy. So before you start taking medication, if you do, pay close attention to what you eat or drink. You may be lucky and find causes you can choose to avoid and delay the next steps in your AF journey. Is this a pain, you bet; but, it works so far for me so I will do it to avoid taking very powerful drugs, that have their own set of challenges, or having an operation that damages the heart and which may or may not be successful. Advances in AF treatment are taking place. Since you are very young, delaying the need for these treatments may be a wise choice. Good luck!

  • Certainly I agree with Engmac - eating in the US was far more challenging re additives and food labeling and processed foods - all of which were triggers for me - as were alcohol and caffeine (in coffee, tea and chocolate). Foods themselves do not cause AF, but they can make it worse by triggering events. The worst for me was dairy and sugar and avoiding those in the US when eating out was nay impossible as even salads come with cheese and sugar in the dressing! And most thought I was mad for asking for stuff without any flavorings a which sort of indicates just how much of a hold food marketing has over our taste buds!

    AF can be well treated - I had 2 ablations and so far so good but unfortunately I still cannot eat many foods as they trigger other conditions - but I do chance the occasional coffee but no more than once a week - we were in Spain for a month and I had 1 a day and after a week was back with tachycardia - fast heart beat which leads to AF - so now back to abstinence (sigh......).

    Lifestyle changes such as diet - eat only fresh organic foods cooked from scratch with a mainly plant based diet and moderate exercise are known to be the way forward with regard to heart health, according to my EP, we can help ourselves but it is a very big mind shift if you are a meat eating, burger loving guy you may prefer the ablation route.

    By the way my Dad had AF which we only discovered when we read his medical notes after he died as he never mentioned it. He lived a mostly fit and healthy life and died aged 84, despite his 'palpitations' and died of unrelated illness.

    Best wishes CD.

  • I had my first episode of afib at 21, I was the fittest I have ever been. Looking back I think it was due to exam stress and being away from home at uni. 3 or 4 sporadic episodes distant apart several years on. Im 35 now and have diagnosed paf, one episode every 4 weeks or so, im on flecanaide but having an ablation soon. Afib doesnt discriminate where age is concerned, it can be due to the ageing process and heart disease etc but in my case its a genetic predisposition. Certain things trigger the af but its underlying regardless. See a cardiologist and electrophysiologist and get some advice on how to control it. I think being young and on meds is a chore, if it occurs often and starts to affect your life then plug for an ablation, this is what I have done.

  • There are lots of worse thing you could have than AF.

    Don't worry too much about it.

  • The biggest thing I have noticed today since my first extreme episode is that I am extremely fatigued today. When I stand up quickly, I get somewhat light headed.

  • All the things you are fearing and feeling are normal and the worry can make it worse. I was sick for two month and didn't know what was wrong until two trips to ER second found AF. It got worse real fast. Alcohol, cigars, stress, caffeine, hard workouts. I was high risk. I was freaked out by all of it, but studied hard, prayed hard and once I calmed down, I have felt better for two weeks and am not afraid anymore. Meds didn't work for me so abalation is scheduled for December. Still having palpitations and some afib, but it has tapered off quite a bit. I believe this is due to my acceptance, study, prayer, and reduced fear. I was exactly where you are just a few short weeks ago. Take a deep breath and relax some. It will all work out fine.

  • My Mum had AF and dies at 89,but it was the crones & arthritis that eventually got the better of her and she died peacefully in her bed at our home with me by her side,she just went to sleep and never woke up to a life of pain., My aunty has AF and is 94 still living alone with support of her daughter and family. AF will not kill you,don't worry as my first cardiologist said," Beta blockers & warfarin", The second one suggested cardioversion but keep on with medication and now in contact with cardiac nurse. Have to have 4 ,2.5 on my INR before I go on the list. I have had it for years as a Biology teacher and doing heart rate several times a year with hundreds of pupils and I knew mine was NOT normal. It took 10 months for the GP to diagnose AF with an ECG after colonoscopy and endoscopy when I presented with "tirednes". Should have just taken my pulse!

  • Too bad doctors don't tell us to take our pulse to possibly detect AF. May be this will not always work, but if AF is significant, most likely it will. Apparently everyone should take their pulse for a minute each month, not to count it, but to see if it remains regular. And if it does not, then off to the GP for a consult.

  • In fact the best thing would be workplace testing once a year or every 6 months. If you asked people to do it themselves every month 95% or more would have stopped by month 2. Just human nature. Just like people not remembering to wash out or clean their filters on vacuum cleaners every 1 or 3 months!!!

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