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Has anyone ever passed out?

Hi everyone.

I was wondering if anyone on here has ever passed out due to a heart rhythm problem? I ask this because I sometimes feel like I'm going to faint, or at least I feel light-headed at times, so I'm very scared of fainting due to my heart rhythm problems.

Anyone willing to share their experiences?

Micwal.

42 Replies
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I used to experience a near faint when I was reverting from AF back to normal rhythm due to my heart pausing for a few seconds. This problem was solved by having a pacemaker inserted

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Glad to hear you're no longer experiencing this problem! I am on bisoprolol, so will that help with the light-headedness? Or, conversely, will it make it worse?

Micwal.

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I am also on bisoprolol which did not help with the lightheadedness although neither did it make it worse. I was told that the only way to deal with the pause in the heartbeat between going from AF back to NSR was to have a pacemaker inserted

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My bisoprolol was cut down to the lowest dose as it made me dizzy but also my low Bpm rate of 38 bpm makes me dizzy quite regularly especially on yawning or waking

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Hi,

I fainted right at my front door after being out shopping and being in AF for most of the day , we had cut short the shopping trip because I felt so ill when I got out of the car to open the front door I went down like a bag of hammers!!

I was only out for a matter of seconds and my husband and daughter were standing over me when I came round, I had bruised the side of my face but otherwise was fine.

the feeling happened quite frequently after that but I usually managed sit and rest for a few minutes, when I spoke to my arrhythmia nurse I was booked in for a pacemaker

and have had no fainting episodes since fingers crossed!!

Wendi

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Hi, thanks for your insight! I wish I could maintain some kind of communication with the people taking care of me. Maybe I'll ask the EP when I see him if this is possible at all, as it would certainly put my mind at a little rest. Did you go straight to A+E after you fainted? Also, were you on any medication when this happened?

Micwal.

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Hi,

No I never went to hospital, I just lay down with my legs up for a while.

I was taking Metoprolol and Flecainide at the time.

You should ask if the department has an arrythmia nurse working there as they are invaluable for this sort of thing and you can contact them most of the time.

Wendi

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It is a bit of a shock to the system when you pass out as you did Micwal. Luckily mine was in the middle of the night in the Hospital Ward. The outcome was the fitting of a Pacemaker. Can't say it's happened again but when I went for my annual check up they were able to tell me when I had had an AF attack. Now in sinus rhythm so hopefully no more problems. Keep well. Dave.

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Hi Dave, thanks for your reply.

I haven't actually ever passed out before, but I feel light-headed (or spacey) on a daily basis, so I'm worried that one of these days I will pass out or collapse. I'll talk to my specialist about it, as it seems like there are multiple benefits to having a pacemaker fitted. Are there any risks?

Micwal.

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I've never fainted, but that's because I sit down quick before it happens. The first episode I had (before I was diagnosed) lasted about 10 hours, during which time I was getting around the house on all fours, and showered sitting in the bath. The second time, the paramedic said "No wonder you're feeling faint, you're losing most of your blood pressure when you stand up".

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Hi micwal. I frequently feel as if i am about to faint. Holter monitors and telemetry during admissions have shown i have pauses in my heart of 3 and 4 seconds. A pacemaker is an option but my EP said i can cope with up to 5 second pauses and is reluctant to do a pacemaker due to my age (37). It is an unpleasant feeling but i have got used to it and as people have said above it often happens before i revert to a normal sinus rhthym but often i find my heart will 'try' for a couple of hours to revert and the presyncope (near faint) is awful at those times. Your EP will be able to investigate this for you and give you answers and advice i am sure. Take care

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Wow, I didn't know you could stay conscious after that length of time. I'll probably ask my EP if I can have another holter monitor but for longer this time (last time they only let me have it for 24 hours).

Thanks for your advice Vony, and best wishes.

Micwal.

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Hi Vony, if you are having 3-4 second pauses during the day and feeling severely faint I think you definitely SHOULD have a pacemaker. It could be very dangerous if you are driving. Maybe you could ask for a second opinion?

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Hi Jonathan PittsCrick. Thank you so much for your advice. My general cardiologist thinks I should have a pacemaker as I have been admitted to CCU 7 times in the last 2 years. My EP has said that he is reluctant to do one at the minute because of my age. I never drive when i am having arrythmias and i am very symptomatic so I always feel them. But it is interesting to hear what you say as my friend is a CCU nurse and has been working when i have been in hospital on telemetry and she said she has seen people have pacemakers who are not as bad as me with pauses. But i have never actually fainted and the doctor said those people are a lot older than me. It is so confusing to know what to do for the best. The EP said he will be inducing a heart problem i don't currently have which will require lifelong follow up if i have a pacemaker fitted. I have a 5 day monitor at the minute and my EP is going to do another EP study with another EP present which i am very thankful for. Thanks again.

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I had frequent faints when in AF but that was because I have very low BP anyway and AF would lower it more.

Low BP & or Bradycardia (slow or pausing heartbeat) are the most likely causes if it happens when in AF or during recovery after an episode I would think. Bradycardia is probably much more treatable but you would be wise to find the cause and talk to your doctor soon.

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Because I have always been very fit and active throughout my life, my normal HR has been below average (50-70) since I can remember. Could the transition from AF to NSR disrupt my circulation even more, causing light-headedness?

What is usually the worst-case scenario when it comes to irregular heart rhythms and light-headedness/fainting? I know this sounds like an obvious question, but I'm still learning about all the different types of arrhythmia (there are a lot!).

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Quite a lot of people seem to suffer Bradychardia after an episode of fast AF - it always took about 24 hours for my body to reset itself and I would often get a lower than normal HR reading - for me that was 50-60 (my resting HR is normally about 65).

I can't answer your question definitively but my guess would be - yes - reverting to NSR after AF might be the cause but it would be good to keep a daily log of both your HR & BP so that you have evidence. Without monitoring you will never know the cause.

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My experience has been inline with CDreamer's comment on Brachycardia and low BP. I have passed out when in AF and getting up and moving quickly. Due to all my exercise I have a lower heart rate anyway and it seems this exacerbates the problem. Apparently feinting can also be caused by going between AF and NSR according to my EP (that wasn't the cause in my case).

Now when I feel feint I stop for 10 secs and wait, the feeling passes. I am on Eliquis, and last time I passed out I fell and my doctor sent me to the ER for CAT scan etc to make sure I hadn't hit my head and didn't have internal bleeding. So if you are on blood thinners be careful!

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Have you checked your BP with a BP cuff monitor when you are feeling like that. This is because low BP can exacurbate the situation or even cause it.

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Yes l have almost passed out many times but never done it

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Hi, I have passed out once which was how my AF was found. I have never since although have felt like I will many times. I think you become more sensitive to your feelings as it goes on and so you are a lot more aware of any sensations. Although this can be annoying as it can start to effect what you do, it is also reassuring as it makes me feel I have time to do something about it, e.g hold on to something, sit down. I have the sensation of the 'dizziness' passing through my body from head to foot I don't know if that I a sensation others experience.

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Just before Christmas I had my first blackout. I have been to see my specialist doctor and now wearing a 7 day monitor. If you feel faint lie down straight the way and get someone to hold your legs up at about 45 degrees. This should stop you passing out. Good Luck.

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At first the times I passed out were put down to epilepsy that I have suffered with since 1985. Then one night my hr fell to 31 and I was taken to hospital. I was discharged at 7-20 the same morning. On the way home I felt real dizzy and managed to get some help before passing out and was taken back to hospital where I was diagnosed with iatrogenic postural hypotension and I was kept in for 4 days. This wasn't the first time and nor the last, but as I mentioned before I am epileptic causing a bit of confusion. I seem to put it to the back of my mind because of this, being used to it.

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When you see your EP ask to be referred to the arrhythmia clinic nurses. Most hospitals have this in place and you will be given a number you can call if you need advice/reassurance etc. They have your details in front of them and can suggest changes to your medication if they feel that it would help. I have used them often as I was very much in the dark at first.

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Another thought....

If you can manage to get to one of the meetings mentioned above you might be able to try out an Alivecor device (someone will have one) and get some advice about whether you are having extra beats/missing beats/compensatory pauses/AF etc.

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Blacking out due to a heart rythm problem (syncope) or feeling like you're going to (pre-syncope) can happen if the heart goes much too fast or too slowly (especially, as others have described, the pause when AF stops and the normal rhythm takes a few seconds to restart). But the problem is worse if you have a low blood pressure anyway (often due to not enough salt) or a usually slow pulse (due to exercise training). Beta blocker drugs (e.g. bisoprolol) cause both low blood pressure and slow pulse rate and so can make the problem much worse.

A problem with feeling faint is that it can trigger a vasovagal reaction which makes you blackout so suddenly you don't know it's happening and you can injure yourself as you fall. So it's best, if you feel severely faint, to lie down straightaway and wait for the feeling to pass in 5-10 minutes. If that's not possible, a trick which may help is to stamp your feet very hard on the ground – it helps return more blood to your heart and stop the blood pressure from falling.

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Something that puzzles me is if my heart stops for about 5 seconds (either by itself or from a dose of Adenosine) I feel no faintness at all, but when I get single missing beats they are sometimes accompanied by a 'spaced out' feeling as the room appears to do a pirouette.

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Mine stops for 3.5 seconds but I have no idea when it happens - from a 24 hour monitor. I often feel spaced out when sitting doing nothing and feel faint if I get up too quickly and/or go upstairs.

I am on a very small dose of digoxin 62.5mcg and 240 mg diltiazem - will ask the cardio if this is too much medication. I need them to control my permanent AF but they may be lowering my HR too much.

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I used to pass out with svt. Would come out of nowhere and boom I'd be down. Very scary!

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That does sound scary! Would you literally fall to the floor or would you have time to realise what's going on?

Micwal.

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No not with the blackouts I'd just come round and realise what had happened. Only out for seconds but if I wasn't sitting down I'd be floored hurt myself a few times x

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Micwal, like you, I've been pretty fit (resting pulse 56-62). My first bout of a-fib (actually flutter) came on while I was getting ready to leave a wilderness campsite in Minnesota's Boundary Waters. It took me two days traveling by canoe to cover the 18 miles back to my car. That distance included 8 portages totaling 3 miles, carrying loads of 40-65 pounds. A few of those portages were steep climbs and I kept from fainting by going slowly - very, very slowly.

I thought I had a leaky heart valve and so attributed the light-headedness and limited stamina to impaired circulation. I was wrong about the cause but right about why I was suddenly so limited.

To finish the story: It was another 55 miles by car to the nearest hospital, where I converted with the help of some IV meds.

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Must have been fairly daunting having to treck all that way whilst in a flutter, it's a shame it limits the amount of exercise you can do because I personally love hiking in the mountains and going on expeditions, but I know now that I'd be terrified of having a bad attack whilst up there or worse.

I've never had to be converted back to normal rhythm, it normally happens by itself within 10 mins, doesn't mean to say I won't have to in the future!

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Bisoprolol lowers my hr, when in NSR , which normally around 60ish, 2.5mg of Biso can bring it down to 41 bpm and then I feel light headed and dizzy. What's your dose?

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My dose is the lowest, 1.25mg. I'm not sure it's for me if I'm honest. I'm going to ask the doctor about propranolol because my friend takes it for anxiety and it works wonders for him. It's also used to treat heart rhythm problems too so perhaps killing two birds with one stone?

Micwal.

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I'm also on 1.25, just tried the 2.5 as when I went into AF the low dose didn't seem to do anything. I kept a check on what the 1.25 did when in Nsr and it appeared to lower my rate by about 8-10 beats, hence when about 60bpm if I took 2 x 1.25 then bpm went to 41 ish. Some Cardiac dr's

reckon 1.25 is pointless, and I've been told that I can take 2 or 3 1.25's if in AF, depending on how fast heart is, problem is if I suddenly go back to NSR

what will happen. I have taken 4 during an event of AF but never together, always a few hours apart. I know nothing about propranolol. After a severe event recently I have also put on Flecainide, at least until next clinic.

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A few minutes ago I started feeling really lightheaded whilst sitting down, so I went and took my blood pressure, which wasn't too low at 130/67. But I felt so lightheaded, as if I was going to faint. I may have been in AF as my heart was going over 100 but it wasn't racing. I haven't taken any bisoprolol today either. What could be going on?

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Yes it's normal sinus rhythm now.

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Thanks Jo for your input. This would definitely make sense. Not sure if it is the case as I felt lightheaded before my hr restored to normal rhythm. On the other hand, I could have been in AF before and not realised it, then my normal rhythm restored just to go up again when I started panicking.

Micwal.

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Hi Micwal,

I have a loop recorder recently implanted in my chest which downloads data to the hospital while I sleep. They do this as I have been experiencing fully blown cardiac syncope collapses. One resulted in my teeth being broken off in the gums as I hit my face when I fell, and needing hospital extraction.

I have a few different cardiac issues including AF, apparently from data received from recorder my heart is slowing too far which will probably mean a pacemaker.

They will keep trying to identify your problem for you so try not to be too afraid.

Good luck to you.

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Hi

Have just come across your message. I have just had a loop recorder fitted. As

yours was a year ago, I would be interested to know how you are doing now. Did the loop recorder show anything helpful?

Hope you are keeping well

Regards

Jan

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Hi Jan.

I have been lucky... now they have captured events on my recorder that they hadn't seen or captured before.

I had an EP study done recently and they know the cause too. Waiting to see what the next step is.

I would recommend a loop device to anyone who needs answers. Hope yours does the same x

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