Bad night and terrifying morning

After a mostly sleepless night, I woke with a rapid heart beat. As I sat up it went into a massively fast beat ( 140) It felt like a large jelly in my chest careering all over the place , and my chest was actually shaking .. I was waiting to die any minute. I told my husband to call an ambulance , he suggested waiting a bit , got me a glass of iced water, and gave me another 1.25 bisoprol . After a nightmare 10 minutes it started to slow.. I'm now back to 78 bpm. and tearful , frightened to move . It was almost worse than the first episode which put me in hospital, because then I had help around me . I have stayed in bed to rest ) have a fluey cold also , but now anxious in case it has damaged my heart. I've read on your posts that it won't kill me /-- but that's gone out the window . I don't know if I should get up and try to have a normal day . My head isn't normal right now Have dithered over taking our holiday , decided to go , after all your good advice  , but now feel back to square one with that. What would I do if it happened on the plane?

My poor family are so caring, but it's hard for them to make the right decision when this happens I didn't expect to have such a frightening attack so soon after the first one and diagnosis . I did read that a virus can increase the risk .

Thank you , Janna

30 Replies

  • Please take a deep breath and calm down. NO AF won't kill you. It just feel that way sometimes but you will get used to it in time. You have your medication and the support of a caring husband so just accept that this virus is more unpleasant than normal. You will start to feel better once that is over I'm sure. Your symptoms will be common to many here although in fairness many have much higher heart rates than yours. It is just the newness of your condition which is causing you so much anxiety and this is really quite normal so don't beat yourself up about that.

    Regarding the holiday I can only say that I have flown in AF many times and flying does not seem to increase either the risk or the ferocity of any events. You get through it and then you enjoy your holiday or you stay at home, feel miserable because you have taken others holiday away and still feel rubbish  if/when you have an event.

    Like I have said many times before , read and learn all you can from AF Association main website as then you will understand your condition and it won't be such an ogre waiting in the dark for you and you will better be enabled to deal with it. I think your family should also read many of the fact sheets there as well so that they understand what you are going through. It is often difficult for loved ones to comprehend your condition as it isn't like a broken arm where you can see what is wrong.

    Now put the kettle on and have a cup of tea -- de caf if possible. AF may be in your life but please do  not let it become ALL of your life.


  • Thank you Bob , for taking time to answer on bank holiday Monday.. I am trying so hard not to be so fearful, but my chest was actually shaking erratically with the rapid frantic beats, and I thought it wouldn't be able to take it, and when it hit 140 and my legs wobbled , I thought that was it I kept saying I  "it won't kill me " to myself , but I felt it was having a good try.

    I really want to go on holiday , and appreciate what you say about flying, would they be able to deal with that on a plane? I know I couldn't sit there in silence .. On the other hand , it might not happen 

    I'm having that cup of tea, bless you 


  • No Problems Janna. We have all been there trust me and also when I say there are worse things to get than AF which actually changed my outlook on life so that when I found I had cancer it was just one extra thing to beat. Which  I have.

    You will learn to deal with this mongrel we suffer and one day soon you will wonder why you got so upset. You can deal with it and as I say, unless you have chest pain or pass out there should be no need to involve anybody else so no problem flying. The worst aspect is that AF often makes us P a lot which can be inconvenient if you will pardon the reference. With my prostate problems this did become difficult when travelling but we manage.

    I do feel that the virus has been making thing worse so please don't make any rash choices till you feel much better.

    All the best


  • My HR was 195+ for 2 weeks until they upped my Bisoprolol to 12.5mg a day!!

    A HR of 140 would have been a nice rest 

    My heart became enlarged from the effort, but 3 months later it's all back to normal.

    Stay off the caffeine!!  

  • The panic and anxiety caused by the AF is something we all struggle with but there are many techniques for helping calm and soothe yourself.  As soon as you start with the worry thoughts, everything speeds up so just remembering to breath and make your breath out longer than your breath in really helps.

    Agree with everything Bob says, I also have flown and been in AF and it doesn't make any difference so once you learn to accept it and your body gets used to the symptoms - yes it does feel as though your heart is going to jump out of your chest - then the panic and anxiety will recede - but it does take time,

    If you go to A&E my experience was they just monitor you and then discharge you when the episode passes so I was always more comfortable just riding it out at home.  

    Times to call the blue light are if your HR exceeds 200 for extended period of time, if you faint or pass out, if your BP falls to less than 90/50, if you experience pain during an episode, if you feel cold and clammy.

    Any infection such as cold will make AF episode more likely so you are doing the right thing, rest, plenty of fluids.

    I am flying to Spain tomorrow and currently in bed as my Mg is playing up, wondering how on earth I am going to pack - LOL.  I always get wheelchair assistance now when I fly, makes the whole experience much less stressful.  You don't need disability badge and I have always found the service very helpful with empathic, caring people - which is what you need when you are anxious - so pleased your family understand.

    Hope you feel better soon, hoping I feel very much better VERY soon,

  • Thoughts with you too CD.  not going to the Spanish GP when you are out there are you?

    Good luck


  • Thanks Bob - it really is a pig..........  I have been really good recently and looking forward to some warm weather - then last night both eyes closed and I couldn't walk, then breathing started to be affected so back on the CPAP.  Eyes are just slits right now so will have to go back and nap again.......grrrrrrrr!

    Also the tachy and arrythmias are back so that doesn't help....sorry I am not a moaner as you know, but bit fragile this morning.

  • I really do hope you start to feel better soon. You certainly are not a moaner so we know when you complain that things really have got to ####### you off stage!

    Fingers crossed for you. X

  • Thank you so much and hoping you feel better very soon.The sunshine will be a bonus ...

  • You can evidently get INR checks when in Spain and the Spanish islands and probably elsewhere. One of my neighbours has been given addresses

    when going away.

  • Thank you Seasider, we have an apartment in Spain and I am registered with a local GP practice who are excellent!   I don't take Wafarin so I don't need INR testing, but the medical services in Spain are usually very good but different than UK as there are many things you have to pay for but then they are discounted so less expensive than at home.  I think the last script I had I paid E1.20.

  • Sorry but I disagree with the HB of 200 that you quote. For many people that would be significantly high. If your normal HB is 100 then 200 means heart is beating at 2.0 times normal. If HB is normally 60 then heart is beating 3.33 times normal - a big % increase. In addition other medical factors may be relevant.  You need to ask consultant / EP / GP what is appropriate for you. 

  • Oh Janna

    I hope we can be mutually reassuring - I've just caught up on your story and we have so much in common. I had what I am sure was Afib attack in the early hours of Tuesday morning - I've had earlier bouts of palpitations but this was something different and had felt to be brewing all day... Skipped beats etc.

    GP quite relaxed ordered blood tests etc and gradually things seem to have steadied - I made myself go out last night to friends for supper but was anxious the right way through (avoided eating lots and alcohol). Came home and had a really unsettled night  woke at 4 am clammy  and anxious heart felt to be beating fast but only In the 80's but that was it for sleep - I haven't slept well since the 'attack'. We also have a holiday in a couple of weeks and I have all the same doubts and fears about going and my husband who is patient and lovely  is I think getting a bit tired of the frenzy I'm in about it 😟

    Let's strip it down we are raw and a bit vulnerable at the moment with no certainties and too many variables....... I have factored in too many, everything from a no med approach to a pacemaker😖 I read too much a blessing and a curse! All those thoughts are swimming round (relatives of the ones I had in my chest) and that disturbs our sleep, stress is one of the triggers for Afib and we have ended up in a vicious cycle. I think rest up a while and then try and go about your day.....

    Maybe some anti anxiety meds for the plane? I don't know if anyone has any views on this? I was considering asking GP for some. 

    Have a cup of tea - trust in the medication you have proof that it works and that's a comfort in itself . You're not alone x

  • My view is mindfulness, CBT, relaxation techniques, breathing etc etc are much more effective long term and better than yet more drugs,

  • I'm so glad it works for you, but in the throws of this mornings attack, my terrified mind was concentrating on staying alive ! Maybe in between ...

  • Thank you Susie, we have a lot in common.when my heart already in 80s all night , shot to 140 as I tried to get out of bed , my legs went , and I thought that was it . It felt like a mad jelly rocking my chest! Bob and others replies are so wise and encouraging , and I'm  so grateful. I guess we aren't there yet, able to control that fear, but I hope we will be. I like your idea for some anti anxiety meds for the plane, I'm going to ask my gp.

    I hope you manage to take your holiday ( me too !) thank you for being there , and get well x

  • After my first afib event (fast rate; age 65) in January, I also was concerned about travel. (car)  We needed to go on a 3 hour road trip, so we took the route that took us through towns that had hospitals...just in case. I brought a project to do along the way, so the time went pretty quickly, and we didn't need any of the hospitals that were in route. 

    Being as this was the beginning of my afib journey, I didn't know what to expect, what to worry about, etc.  Now, a couple months later and having had 4 "events," I feel a tiny bit  more comfortable with a-fib expectations, etc. This website has been so very helpful, and I'm very grateful for that.  

    It's a bugger of a disorder or whatever it is called.  I'm seeing an EP cardiologist tomorrow to discuss the future.  I do know he wants to schedule a stress test; have had the EKG's, blood work, echo, etc.  I'm going to be asking about an ablation; what to expect for % of success, etc.

  • It's best referred to as a condition. 

    You will probably find that you become more confident about travelling as you gain experience.

    Good luck with your EP visit.

  • Thanks, Rellim296

  • Yes understand that and not advocating for it just putting it out there as an option to consider. I have been looking at mindfulness this morning and am certainly considering it as a proactive way to try and deal with things.

  • Comments were to CDreamer - I don't know when your holiday is Janna but my thoughts were that all the cognitive approaches take a little while to embed and used a s a temporary crutch are anti anxiety meds so bad?

  • Sometimes we all need some help in that respect and while drugs are not usually the long term answer they can be helpful as a crutch from time to time. 

  • Yes, I think so 

  • Hi Bob,I following your post closely, and today,  when I read  about your past cancer, i understand where  your positive and assuring approach to people, complaining about AF, coming from. Since the anxiety the one of many reasons for AF occurring ,the best be calm and positive.

    I have my episode of AF this morning , grabbed the med.(Bisoprolol ,Flecidiane) , taking as PIP ,and set quietly ,reading the posts and waiting "for drug/crutch  help". No other help have around, and of course, the hospital is not the issue. Trying not to much worry about AF occurance, sometimes i  continue  morning  routine.

    Yes, medication gave  me headache, cool sensation, but to return heart to normal rhythm is priority.

    Thank you for your posts. Inna

  • Susie I know what you are going through as many others do!  AFib is a horrid condition that you can never predict you just wait till next time!  I have had it for 5 years.  The first time I had a HR of 268 was in intensive care for 3 weeks and my heart stopped on the 5th day and I had to have a pacemaker.  Mostly due to how the medication can lower your heart rate to such a low rate.  It took 4 months for my heart to calm down.  I had two blissful years on Sotalol and then boom it was back with a vengeance!  I had a cyroablation a year ago and so far so good!  I do take anti anxiety meds and they help very much!  I take zanax twice a day and it helps.  Here in the states they do give you those as anxiety causes the rate to go even higher.  I wish you and all of us the best!

  • I would think they would be OK temporarily .I feel panicked when an attack starts , and perhaps that might increase the rate , especially sitting on a plane . It would be one more tool to help me take the holiday .I so used to enjoy going away, and it depresses me that I am now having to talk myself into it . I want my life back.I hope it will come , as Bob says ....

  • Janna, in your position and state of mind I would certainly see your GP for a relaxant drug before contemplating air travel.There is no time to faff about with ' mindfulness ' etc, that can come later.

    Your heart rate of 140 is not massively high for AF and you will find in time that you can function with this.

    I assume that you have alerted your insurance co. re  your AF

  • Thank you for that. I haven't contacted the insurance people as yet . Would I need it in addition to the European cover card ? The 140 felt as if I was dying. I couldn't believe my heart could take it and with a fast irregularity too, without it stopping altogether ! 

  • Yes Janna, you do need to inform insurance company about your AF. EH card would not be enough.

  • See my reply to CDDreamer. 

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