A Friend's Heart Rate: I was out walking with... - AF Association

AF Association

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A Friend's Heart Rate


I was out walking with a friend of mine this afternoon and she suddenly felt quite ill and thought she was going to faint, thankfully she didn't! And managed to get home. She has AF and her heart rate went from 66 to 72. I would have thought that was perfectly ok and that she wasn't in AF but she took her PIP and insists her rate shouldn't go higher than 66. Is she over reacting? I think she is but she didn't look very well and now feels off colour and tired. HR back to 66. Any ideas ? As I have recently been posting about my HR I know how scary it is so don't want to poo poo her fears but rather offer reassurance.



16 Replies

It does seem odd that an increase from 66 to 72 would cause that much of a difference unless the rhythm became erratic. My AF doesn't always appear in the form of a rapid pulse - erratic alone is enough to make me feel wiped out. You don't say whether the rhythm of your friend's heartbeat changed? If it didn't, she may want to see her GP to find out if anything else is going on.

I wouldn't let her get hung up on a particular heart rate of 66 otherwise that's going to cause immediate panic. Rates can vary just through everyday life.

Hope that helps.


Stephanietee in reply to CTG99

She didn't say it was erratic just felt very unwell. She does have other problems so if it happens again I will encourage a gp




PeterWh in reply to Stephanietee

Encourage a GP visit now. Better to start sooner than later. They can arrange 48 hour or 7 day holter.

72 I would consider a very good HR as when I was in AF it would go up to 180, however, there was obviously something wrong and she is the expert on how she feels so I don't believe it is our place to judge.

My understanding is that it is the irregularity of the heart beat, not the speed of the heart rate which defines AF i.e. A lack of a P wave means the atria doesn't prime the ventricle to pump blood around the body. Most people do seem to have fast AF but others don't, which is why it goes undetected in many people.

My belief is reassurance, reassurance, reassurance that you are there to support and believe her when she says she feels unwell is the very best way you can help her as a good friend.

Crikey! Hope she never breaks into a trot.

She needs to bottom out whether that 66 target is a real one or not - she needs to get advice on that professionally.

Does she have anxiety ? A heart rate going from 66-72 doesn't seem a concern to me. a persons heartrate is continuously changing. I can't help but wonder if it's not anxiety related.

Only thing I can add is that whilst in hospital and during a period of AFIB, the nurse checked my pulse and believed it was normal. The ECG however told a different story, with AFIB and a pulse of 136.

If it was extreme anxiety, I would expect a pulse increase greater than an increase of 6bpm.

Not sure about a heart rate of permanent 66 during a walk either. Mine hits about 130 and can stay that way for up to 2 hours after the walk. This is after 2 ablations, NSR throughout and a return eventually to about 64 but not exclusively. I am told this is ok and logically the heart rate should change constantly.

I would suggest a check up but please appreciate that AF or SVT could run for a matter of seconds and during that time you can feel extremely unwell. It would switch immediately back to the normal speed and those of us unlucky enough to have experienced this and to have seen it on an ECG are equally amazed.

Best to get some reassurance and good luck.

I think anxiety is the problem for some people letting your mind wonder can induce symptoms. I certainly wouldn't worry if my heart rate went from 66 to 72 normal resting rate is as far as I know 60 to 80 beats per minute. I know that having AF makes us more aware of our heart beat. That's why you may have a small panic attack at the slightest twinge or palpitation especially when they take you by surprise . If your friend is so worried go and get checked out by a GP. She will probably find there's nothing to worry about. Anxiety can be a terrible thing until you learn to bring it under control.

I would say she needs to see her gp the heart rate is not abnormal but if she felt usnwell could well be any number of other things ie diabetic , thyroid, water infection etc

I wonder whether the feeling faint might be caused by her heart pausing. I won't bore with a long history but would say that I was getting this feeling faint after/during an AF episode. GPs at the practice where I was registered did not pick up what the cause was. Was on holiday staying with my daughter and had one of these episodes. Got a telephone consultation with her GP who diagnosed PAF immediately. Got me into hospital for an urgent fitting of a pacemaker. Haven't had a 'fainting' issue since.

Your pulse rate doesnt have to go really fast to have an af attack, i ended up calling an ambulance at one time, i couldnt breath and went very grey when my heart was all over the place but it was far from beating fast, it was more beating all over the place

iv'e got A Fib 24/7,

pulse gone down to 72 from over 100, consultant took me off digoxin said 72 was to low now 82.

Stephanietee in reply to higgy52

Do you feel better for that? I've less tired?


higgy52 in reply to Stephanietee

Yes feel ok with faster heartbeat of 82 not so short of breath.

My consultant says that it's the irregularity of the heart rate with AF that makes the heart at least 20% less efficient. So that's 20% less oxygen available when you need it. Even a small amount of exertion putting up the HR a small amount could make your friend feel faint. Some of us don't have particularly fast heart rate with AF. Hope that helps.  

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