Just had scary afib experience

I was a mile from home on foot and I had a full on afib episode, heart felt like it was going about 180bpm. I managed to walk back very slow, kept thinking I was about to pass out, it was a horrible experience. Didn't want to cause a fuss with an ambulance, but I was very close to sitting on nearest bench and calling one. I'm now home and taken my pip and betablocker, luckily it seems to have done the trick. Now feeling completely wiped out!

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38 Replies

  • Sorry to hear this.

    I believe that you definitely should have called an ambulance became you don't know what could have happened. I suspect that with the benefit of hindsight you know that. You would not be regarded as a time waster. The Ambulance Service deals tens of thousands of calls from people with much less serious issues.

    Not surprising you are wiped out. Do you live on your own? If yes I suggest that as a precaution you arrange for someone to call you or pop in at say 9pm this evening and again at say 9am tomorrow morning just to check you are all right (ie covering that one in thousands event that you are too shattered).

  • Hi Peter

    Thanks for your msg, I know I should have called an ambulance. Even the doctor told me to do that when I was diagnosed. Guess I thought if I could get home and take my flecanide I could do without spending a night in a&e. Seems to have done the trick now, my heart rate is back down to 60 to 70 bpm in nsr.

    Thank you for asking but I don't live on my own, my wife to be will be home in a while :)

    Daft thing is I would normally drive to the shop, decide to walk as thought it would do my heart good. So much for being healthy!

  • The only reaso that I said that was because you didn't mention calling someone to come and pick you up!!!

    This time alls well that ends well. However at that rate you could easily pass out.

    There's being healthy - but within limits!!!! As I was told don't over do it - I am in persistent AF.

  • Lesson number 1 --never go anywhere without your pills and something to take them with (drink). I learned that the hard way too. I always take a bag with all my meds just in case even though I haven't had AF for several years.

  • I know! Been in the situation twice without them, thought I would have learnt the first time!

  • How are you now ? It's so grim isn't it ? On Sunday we were stuck in heavy traffic it was just my second ad fib episode. So hard to know when to ask for help in hospital. I'm waiting for the alive or ap so can record the ads. Good luck. How long have you had ad fib

  • Hi Elaine, I'm feeling much better thank you just a bit exhausted. Yes it is grim, I imagine being stuck in traffic must have made it worse, you must have felt trapped, poor you. How long is it since you had the first one? Do they last long?

    I'm 35 and got diagnosed about a year ago after having a few episodes, it was the third time it was picked up on am ECG. Before that they put it down to a panic attack, which I thought was odd as I'm not an anxious person. This was my third long episode since my diognosis, I've also had quite a few short 10 to 20 second episodes.

    I think they call my condition lone AF, it's not caused by anything obvious.

    I'm due to go back to see a specialist very soon with a view to looking into the option of having the ablation.

  • Hello Steve. AF is so hard to understand isn't it my first attacking was on Xmas day just gone. I had some heart rumbling feelings a few days before and saw go who did an erg. On Xmas day. Mid meal I had to go to a and e. With an attavk lasting about an hour. I've seen a cardiologist privately who has given me an echocardiogram. Heart in good order. Second attack on Sunday out of the blue lasting about an hour or so. Totally exhausting. Did not go to s and e but really was v scary. I'm 64 and work as a psychotherapist. I am v fit yoga running fan. I was drinking wine every night but stopped all alcohol on x,as day. I really find it v disturbing. Do they need to ablate you ? I'm on apixaban ante coagulant. Are you on anything ? Good luck to you. This site is v helpful.

  • I've pretty much quit drinking to, I still have the odd glass of wine or beer but nothing compared to what I use to. In fact my first episode happened on a stag do, I think this may have been the start of it all.

    I think I want to have the ablation done, I'm a bit nervous about having it but hopefully it will mean I won't need medication for the rest of my life.

    At the moment I have 1.25mg Bisoprolol betablocker and 100mg Flecainide to convert me back to nsr if I go into afib.

    I'm not on any anticoagulation as I'm not in the risk category yet.

    Good luck to you to, hope you get sorted.

  • Good luck to you too Steve. I think alcohol plays a part. Also feel far better without it. Ablation should be v successful. Let us know. E

  • Try to keep your heart rate at 70% of your maximum ( 220-your age is your max). Sometimes if my heart rate goes high when exercising I get an episode the next day. I also have been doing Yoga for several years do not know if it helps or not.

  • In August 2014 I ran out of groceries two days into an episode, so I went to Tesco with AF, I remember nearly passing out by the veg counter. I normally call ambulances fairly promptly, but on the previous occasion A&E had made me feel like a timewaster, so I decided to try and ride it out. I lasted until the following day before I couldn't get up the stairs and had to call 999 anyway, by which time it was too late for a DCCV.

  • One of the first times I went into Afib (before i knew what it was) I called for an ambulance, by the time they got to me I had converted back to NSR but by pulse still fast. When I got to the hospital they said it was a panic attack and sat me in the waiting room like a naughty boy, I had to wait 2 hours to see a doctor who also dismissed it as a panic attack. I guess its hard to diagnose if they don't pick up the arrhythmia, but some hospital staff need to consider how their attitude comes across to people in a time of need.

  • The above experience was at Manchester Royal Infirmary. However I have to say the second time I went to hospital it was Wythenshawe A&E, and i've got to say the staff there were nothing but amazing.

  • I'm afraid it's just luck as to the consultant or doctor you get

  • I agree - Wythenshawe is a great example of how the NHS could be. I get my wife to drive me there rather than go to the nearer hospitals an ambulance would take me to.

  • That is a really good point.

    Many people don't know that for Ambulance admissions the CCG (aka Trust) boundaries for treatment do NOT apply. The A&E hospital they take you to may NOT be the nearest one to you even if both have A&E (eg because nearest one doesn't have full facilities or because the travelling TIME of the one that is further away is less). Usually nowadays most hospitals with A&E have full facilities which is why some hospitals have been down graded to minor injutries units over the last 5 years or so.

    Therefore if your cardiac hospital is further away then driving may be an option PROVIDING it is safe to do so (ie DON'T do so if you have heart pains then 999 it!!!).

  • Unfortunately in Gtr Manchester Stepping Hill is regarded as one of the major hospitals even though it's hopelessly overloaded with more than a broken toenail, has wards from the 1850s and an occasional tendancy to poison its patients.

    But as you say if its a 999 situation you're better ending up there in an ambulance than dead in a car.

  • I only responded to your post since you mentioned it so people can be prepared!!! I only found out when I was 999d last June (although heart hospital is 30 miles away for me).

  • I have AF and attend Wythenshaw hospital and can recommend Dr Fox who is an EP. I paid privately for the first visit and then he transferred me to NHS. I have had two episodes in one year but not considering ablasion as yet. He is seeing me again in May and seems happy to go with my decision and he is also considering a pacemaker because of my low heartbeat when not in AF. I am on Apixaban and bisoprolol as a PIP. Hope you are now feeling better, regards

  • Yes I'm pretty sure it was him I saw last time, I was refered after my a&e visit. We discussed holding back on the ablation, but he said I have an open ticket if I wish to go back for it. I'm due to go and see him again in Feb, after speaking to a few people on here I think I'm going to ask for it to be done. My episodes seem to be coming a bit more frequently.

  • The incident I referred to above was in June 2014. I called 999 and the paras diagnosed AFL. When I got to A&E I was told it was NSR and sent home by Drs who thought I was just panicking.

    Before long my HR was up to 180, so I called 999 again, and was again diagnosed with AFL and taken back in. The Dr in A&E said in a withering tone "You're not having a heart attack, but we'll keep you in just because I can see you're anxious", and then put me in a side room to "calm down". It wasn't until the end of the day that a cardiologist arrived and correctly diagnosed me.

    It's one of the many issues in the complaint I put in last June. They're acknowledging that I was in AFL when the paras saw me but still insisting it was NSR when they sent me home. They now acknowledge AFL when I was brought in second time, even though the Dr wrote "tachycardia" across the ECG at the time.

    It's already cost me £200 just to get copies of my records, but I'm so sure that I didn't go from AFL to NSR and back to AFL without my HR changing, that I'm currently looking for a private Dr to review the contentious ECG.

    My records make interesting reading. When I was diagnosed in Aug 2012 there were no less than 10 sheets of ECGs printed, including ones with the diagnosis written across them by the consultant, but cardiology spent the next 11 months writing letters denying that they had ever seen any evidence of AF, and even denying that I had been taken to A&E.

  • I still enjoy the memory of the look of panic on the face of the doctor who had been treating me (very kindly) all afternoon as a panicky old lady when he got the blood results and found my chest pains were indeed indicative of a heart attack!

  • Hi Steve,

    So sorry to read about your AF episode - yes it's an unpleasant experience to say

    the least, particularly when you're away from home! Good that you made it back to your abode and back into NSR. Taking a PIP and betablocker when you got home, does that imply that between AF episodes you are not on any daily medication for AF? I would be interested to know :)

    All the best to you,


  • Hi Musette,

    Thanks for your message, my Afib episodes are normally few and far between so I don't need to take Flecainide daily. I have 1.25 mg Bisoprolol tablets that I can take daily, however on my last trip to the Cardiologist he said I could also the these in response to an episode. I am 35 and healthy will a resting heart rate around 55-60bpm (Without taking any drugs), even in the low dosage the beta blocker drops my heart rate to around 48-50bpm - this is the reason I don't take it daily.

    However my afib episodes have been coming a little more frequently in the last 2-3 months. I have decided to go back to my Cardiologist next month and discuss having an ablation, from what other people has said on here its best to try and knock Afib on the head in the early days.

  • Thanks for the reply Steve - all the best to you - as you said your young and healthy so your AF is probably pretty manageable and ablation sounds like a good option for you.



  • Steve - I keep a selection of taxi service telephone numbers on my mobile, just in case. Also I always have my pills with me. My AF, which I've had for a good 10 years now, has only ever started once when I've been out and that was just as I was finishing a long walk with a friend. My attacks other than that have always started when I've either been still, or moved after being still, e.g. getting out of bed to go to the toilet in the night. I guess you will soon notice a pattern to when yours starts.


  • I agree with all of the triggers you mentioned, so why when you mention them to a doctor, do they look at you as if you are stupid?

    For the record, I have had 2 ablations now and I am 90% fixed but, it is so annoying that with all of us sufferers giving them the symptoms, they still fail to take them on board.

  • Because teh clue is in their name GPs = General Practioners. They can not be expected to know all the ins and outs and issues of all aspects of AF and for that matter all diseases and afflictions - that is why there are specialists and sub specialists

  • Hi jeanjeanie,

    A Bowie fan? Sad he went so young.

    I'm a retiree but not a homebody - out & about on a daily basis i.e volunteer work, walking, day trips, visiting mates, occasional body surf etc. yet, my AF episodes (diagnosed about 3 years ago) have always occurred at home - no idea why this is so. The episodes occur during restful activities - reading, telly, on line scrabble (great game:))drawing etc. I wonder if this is the same with other members on this terrific forum (I've learnt a lot since joining).

    All the best to you,


  • Steve,glad you are feeling much better.

    I take my beta blocker after breakfast every morning and carry my prescribed dose of 300mg Flecainide which is my Pill in Pocket at all times,in a little pill box.

    It means you are not caught out and gives you more confidence at all times

    Keep well.


  • Thanks Eleanor, I've now stuck a few tablets in my wallet. Not getting caught out again :D

  • Ambulance driver told me 'never worry about calling an ambulance for a heart condition'. Critically they can give you the results of an ECG for your GP otherwise your doctor will just make a decision based on your description.

  • Hi Rich, is that ambos in Australia (where I'm from) or ambos in the UK?



  • Sorry that was UK.

  • No worries from down under N.S.W - sweltering in 33 degrees

    celsius (91.4 Fahrenheit) :) I'm sure our Ambos hear would say the same.



  • Or they won't understand!!!!

  • Using a beta blocker to lower the heart rate can sometimes be a negative. Like you I have a low resting heart rate. I was given a beta blocker the first time and almost died because it lowered my heat rate too much. When the heart stops, you have a problem. I expect the intent is to keep your heart rate lower in AF; but unless you have a way of measuring the rate, you really don't know if it is helping. Some people use Alivecor to check. I think, but don't know, that when my heart rate gets into the 40's or low 50's, I am more likely to have an AF episode. So unless the beta blocker really helps, you may wish to consider if this is the right medication. Inappropriate drugs for you can make AF worse; but doctors probably won't tell you this. Everyone is different so doctors have a big challenge to get your medication right; and unless you give them some convincing data, they will assume their recommendation is the correct one.

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