PAF diognosed at 35

About 2 1/2 years ago I was on a stag do in Portugal and I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart beating out of my chest, it was also beating very irregular. I had no idea at the time was going on, I thought I was about to have a heart attack and die. After a few hours I noticed as quick as it started my heart returned to normal rhythm. I had been drinking a lot for the 3 previous nights so I put it down to dehydration and my body telling me to take it easy.

I was fine for the next 18 months and then out of the blue it happened again, this time I hadn't been drinking. I was in work sat at my desk not feeling stressed, just a normal day in the office. I started to panic and got pains in my chest, i had pins and needles in my arms and face and I felt very light headed. My colleagues called an ambulance, but by the time they got there my heart rate had slowed (I now realise I had converted to nsr). The hospital put it down to a panic attack and sent me on my way. I thought this was weird as I am a very calm level headed person and wasn't worried about anything prior to it happening.

3 months later it happened again, this time it was in the morning mid week. The night before I had felt a few missed beats, It was a strange sensation but I wasn't overly worried. This time I didn't feel as distressed but I knew something wasn't right so I decided to drive to a&e. I sat in my car for half an hour to see if it passed but it didn't, I went in and was seen straight away. This time they picked up my afib on an ECG. My heart rate was 180 - 190. I was given Flecanide intravenously and this did the trick after about 2 hours. I was kept in over night on a monitor and let go the next day with a referral to see the Electrophysiologist.

After seeing him we discussed the options and I was prescribed Bisoprolol to take daily and a 100mg tablet of Flecanide as a pill in the pocket. Since then I have had two more 4+ hour episodes, both times my heart converted without going to hospital. Once I didn't have my Flec, but by time I got home it was back to normal.

I also now seem to be getting frequent 10 to 20 second episodes several time a week. I am going to try making some lifestyle adjustments to see if it helps, I have almost stopped drinking all together and could do with loosing a few stone.

My Cardiologist said I could opt for an ablation, but we agreed to see how I went on for a few months. I am hoping I can reduce the frequency of episodes by being more healthy, so fingers crossed I won't need the surgery as I must admit the idea sounds quite scary.

Has anyone been in a similar situation to me and had the surgery? If so did it do the trick?

11 Replies

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  • Welcome to the mad world of AF and yes binge drinking is a known cause for AF in younger people. I think it is nature's way of say that is enough please don't do that any more. Yes lifestyle changes such as better plant based diet (you don't have to give up meat, just don't eat so much,) no alcohol, no smoking, less stress, more exercise etc can help .You won't live any longer but it might feel like it.

    The bad news is that AF is almost always a progressive condition and will become more frequent and troublesome. There is an old saying "AF begets AF" which is so true as the more you have it, the more established will become the rogue pathways. Please if you haven't already, visit the AF Association website where you will find countless fact sheets on most aspect of AF and treatment.

    At your age I would seriously consider the ablation option and please note it isn't an operation or surgery, merely a procedure and no where near as scary as you might think. I needed three before my AF was kicked into touch six plus years ago. You really do not want a lifetime of drugs which may or likely will not control things whilst probably giving you all sorts of unwanted side effects.

    Read all you can as knowledge it power and will help you to have an educated discussion with your EP when finally you see one. (Electrophysiologist, The formula one chaps of the cardiology world.)

    Bob

  • Thanks Bob, good advise. I'm going to give some serious thought to the ablation procedure.

  • Go for the ablation Steve, it took me 5 years to take the plunge and I'm still annoyed that I put it off for so long. Transformed my life!

  • Thanks Mike

  • Go for the ablation.

  • Thanks Peter

  • My story is quite similar to yours only I'm 42. My journey started back in July of this year. I was offered ablation but have decided to 'see how it goes' using drugs. Unlike you I don't take bisopropol. I take Flecanide twice a day 50mg. So far so good. I'm now back exercising and can drink alcohol from time to time providing I don't go mad (I get warning signs). My EP/cardiologist are happy for me to try this approach, under supervision of my cardiologist. I have an open ticket to ablation if and when in the future. Hopefully this just shows you that there are other options...good luck!

  • I was discharged with a similar plan, my Cardiologist said I could go back through my GP at any time and request to be referred back to them for the ablation. I have 100mg Flecanide tablets that I only need to take if I go into Afib and I don't convert by myself after an hour or so. I've only had to take one once and it worked within a few hours. The previous time I didn't have them with me and converted before I got home and the time before that I was about to go to hospital after being in Afib for 5 hours, on my way out I bent down to tie my laces and it stopped!

    I have been taking the Beta blockers daily, although its a very low dose at 1.25 mg per day. Under the advise from the Dr I am going to stop taking them daily and just have them when my heart starts racing as they do make me feel tired even at this low dose.

    I've identified alcohol as my main trigger, I don't drink much anymore but even a few pints can make me feel off the next day. I normally get the sensation of skipped beats every few minutes, the times I have gone into full Afib have always followed a day of experiencing these missed beats. These skipped beats make me feel anxious and i'm sure this makes the situation worse. Its almost like I can feel my Afib coming on. I also get these skipped beats after eating a big meal, especially if i eat a bit too quick!

    In the last few months I have also been having strange sensations lasting 10 to 20 seconds, It starts with a feeling I cant draw a full breath almost like my lungs don't want to work and go light headed. My heart will race and skip for a short period and then go back to normal, these are more scary than when I have previously gone into afib as I have always been able to operate as normal. These short episodes make me feel like my heart is about to stop. My GP suggested it was just a symptom of Afib, however it doesn't stop it being scary as hell when it happens.

    Glad to hear that your plan seems to be working for you, its nice to know the options are there for you as or when you need it.

  • Hi Steve. Yes I can get similar feelings to you (skipped beats etc.) Which I'm told are ectopic beats, as warning signs I've over done it. They do make you draw your breath sometimes and anxiety certainly doesn't help! I was just wondering if you would be better, like me taking flecainide daily (low dose) as oppose to a pill in pocket. Might be worth asking? Although I appreciate everyone is different. Good luck with everything anyway and please give me a shout if I can ever help in anyway. Cheers

  • As I have got my name down for an ablation, I am obviously also in favour of that and am hoping to avoid the stronger medicines for the time being (I am on Warfarin and beta blockers, without problems).

    In your case, I can see why you might be tempted to hold fire for a while, depending on how much it is affecting your life. You're only getting short episodes of AF a few times a week. Furthermore, you imply there is plenty of scope for lifestyle improvements in terms of alcohol and weight (don't forget diet and maybe trying a few supplements). Loosing 'a few stone' (?) could prove tough, but the results could be good, and worth doing anyway.

    However, other members are obviously right that AF is normally progressive. It is likely you will need to take further action sooner or later. You get a better chance of success having it sooner, so don't delay too long.

  • Yes i'm hoping that some life style changes will help my heart keep its finger off the Afib trigger :) I'm not hugely overweight (I'm 6ft and 17 stone but a large build, ideally should be about 14ish) My diet isn't great so going to make an effort to eat more greens / fish and less red meat and carbs etc.. I don't drink much any more but going to knock it on the head if I can. Plus i'm getting married this year so wouldn't mind looking more trim for the photos :)

    Glad to hear you are on the waiting list for the ablation, good luck for when it comes around and hope it works for you! I may well be following in your footsteps later this year.

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