Recent A/F shock

I have recently had several af episodes. I have been extremely frightened by these as I have never experienced them before. I have had panic attacks earlier in 2016 and wondered if these were, in fact, af episodes on a milder scale? I am on Rivaroxoban and now being told that there is no antidote if I experience a serious bleed. I feel my life has taken a major turn for the worse. Can I overcome the feelings of anxiety that this situation is causing me?

21 Replies

  • YES! The first thing to understand is that AF will not kill you even though it may feel like that sometimes. Anxiety goes with the it hand in hand I'm afraid but the good news is that knowledge is power and power to drive away fear.

    Go to AF Association website and absorb all the fact sheets there and then you may start to understand this mongrel condition.

    Don't worry about antidote for anticoagulation. Why do you think that you will have a serious bleed. Are you a stunt driver,knife throwers assistant or any other such dangerous past times? You are no more likely to have a bleed now than before and in any case were you (heaven forbid) to be in a serious accident , there are ways to deal with it.

    Ask any questions and we will try to help but RELAX. Life goes on but maybe not quite so kick ass as it used to.


  • Thank you for your reply. I feel that I need to stay in my comfort zone at the moment and have stopped doing most of the things I enjoy, Zumba, line dancing and the occasional glass of wine. I am also thinking of canceling a cruise in September for fear of needing emergency treatment if something awful happens. I've even tried CBT to help but no luck so far.

  • Why would you give up everything you enjoy? What is stopping you doing them? Enjoyment counters fear - the endorphin effect.

    The anxiety you feel are just symptoms of the vagus nerve reacting to AF or in some cases, triggering AF. Stop doing the things you enjoy and basically you give up living and start dying.

    Yes AF is scary when you have your first episodes, it takes a bit of getting used to but if you look back on the posts on here you will see almost everyone's first post is similar to yours - mine certainly was!

    I took a bit of convincing as well, but you will get there. The best thing you can do to help yourself is prepare for that cruise, go back and Zumba & line dance - feel the fear and do it anywase - you have just had a tempory lapse of confidence and it will come back when you know more about AF - research, research and more research, Become more familiar with AF and learn you will survive, whether or not you thrive is entirely in your hands, it is a choice.

    Practise the breathing exercises for at least 5 mins if you feel an episode coming on - delibrately slow your breathing down and use your diaphragm to push air into your belly and then use your diaphragm to slowly push air out - in for count of 7 - out for 11. Practise this every day for 5 mins until it becomes second nature. This will help anxiety and improve Vagal tone.

    May not be what you want to hear but sometimes straight talking has more impact than sympathy.

    See a Electrophysiologist ASAP and get a treatment plan in action.

    Then get on with enjoying the rest of your life! Believe me there are a lot worse things than AF.

    Very best wishes and sorry you are here with our AF club - CD.

  • Please don't give up on the things you enjoy. After my initial AF diagnosis I too thought I had to slow down but with the support from friends and definately the good words of people here I have got my life back. I'm now doing Pilates, walking my 10k steps daily and have just come back from a cruise where I felt so relaxed. I control AF it doesn't control me (any more!) Have a good day :)

  • Hi Bob, thank you so very much for your reply. You were the first to reply to my post but there have been many others that have flooded in overnight. I am so pleased that I have found the forum as I have felt as though I was the only person in the world with this problem and all of the worries that go with it. One or two replies have referred to local community groups where like people can meet and discuss af etc. I live in Gloucestershire and note that the AFA is in Bristol, is there a "club" anywhere in my area, please.

    If any other of the people who have taken time to reply read this then thank you all for your kind help. It's very much appreciated.


  • I try to have a lunch three times a year in Taunton if that is of interest. It is not a support group as such, more just a social occasion. Look out for West Country Lunch as a title. Ring the AF A helpline in case there is a support group nearer to you.


  • Thanks for that, I'll keep it in mind. I have checked directly with AFA and we don't have one locally.

    Thanks again.

  • You will overcome your anxiety although it wont go away overnight. I know how you are feeljng. AlthoughI must have had A.F. for some time before diagnosis, when I knew I actually had a condition to do with my heart I went into panic mode. Finding this site was the turning point for me. There were so many different people with good advice. BOb and Ian for down to earth practical advice and no nonsense talking. There were so many people willing to listen and dole out tea and sympathy and others who were at the same stage as me to commiserate. Also , even now, I know that if I am feeling down I can come on here and have a moan. It makes all the difference. At the end of the day A.F. is just one of the things sent to bug is in life and trust me it will eventually become normal to you. The main thing is to make sure you get all the appropriate medical knowledge and help. Good luck and I hope you are feeling a little bit better before long. X

  • Hello Dapper and welcome to our forum. I know exactly how you feel - bewildered, scared and fearful for the future and there's probably not one of us who hasn't felt the same at diagnosis. BUT - these feelings do lessen as we learn about the condition and about how adaptable our bodies and minds are.

    The panic attacks may well have been episodes - that's what I thought my AF was for quite a long time. From that knowledge I learned that I could function and get through them safely. It was only when I was told what they were that I got really worried!

    It's good news that you are anticoagulated - don't worry about 'no antidote' being available. The new anticoagulants have a short half life and leave the system very quickly, and there are plasma and other treatments in the event of a very serious bleed. I've had numerous cuts, tooth extraction and other mishaps without problems.

    Anxiety is our worst enemy but it can be helped by understanding. Do go to the AFA website and look under Publications on the left hand side. Read all you can find - remember to think positively, not everything described happens to each of us all the time. You will find a way through this - episodes can be scary at first - I found lying down on my right side, breathing deeply and calmly helped.

    It's important to try to do things you like, but I know how I felt at first - too scared to go to Tesco! Set yourself a small task - short line dance or whatever. Accomplishing just one task is a great booster so that you can plan to go on that cruise in September.

    Do keep posting - we are all here together.

  • Hi, thanks for your kind message, this forum is a great help.

    Been to see my cardiologist today and he has said similar things to you. He confirms my anxiety is my biggest enemy. He says there is no reason that I can't get back into a normal life style and is happy for me to excercise and drink in moderation, ( which is the norm for me anyway).

    I'm sure this will take time to sink in but I must give it a go.

    Thanks again.

  • Dapper - thank you for the follow up post. That sounds very positive and helpful. Remember to take 'small steps' until you get some confidence back and build on that. There will probably be glitches to overcome but keep your eye on the goal of putting AF into the background of your life.

    Best wishes

  • It all seems awful to start with, but what feels scary soon becomes merely tedious as you gain experience and the anxiety diminishes. I felt I'd suddenly aged about 20 years, but I'm back where I should be again now.

    I take Rivaroxaban and don't have worries about the so-called lack of antidote. Those of us taking anticoagulants are only going to leak for a little longer and are, yes, more vulnerable but a serious bleed, if serious enough, is a problem for anyone. I don't think many of us have really been too bothered by that in better times.

  • I know how you feel when I had my first attack I was scared to death then I spent everyday waiting for the next one every little blip I was off to the doctors ,one day I noticed I was getting the oh no it's her again looks and I heard a nurse say oh she's only got AF I felt like hitting her instead I started to think how much I had let AF take over my life And at 72 every day is precious ,it still scares me when I have a bout of AF but I don't spend everyday waiting for it to happen . I hope you can overcome your fear and start living your life again xxx

  • After my AF I vowed I would do far More things I enjoy and to worry less. To be honest it was a wake up call to get on and to be glad

  • I can only echo all the comments of others. In my case, I was diagnosed 2 years ago. On a Monday (or whatever day it was) I felt fine, but saw my Doctor suffering from minor breathlessness. On Tuesday I felt as if my world had virtually collapsed! In essence my health had not changed but physologically I was in a terrible state, totally brought about by ignorance. I was lucky, with the help of this forum, our local support group in Surrey and getting good medical advice (albeit privately) I did get my life back and you will too - but do not give up the things you enjoy doing!


  • So much good advice here. I can only echo the comments above - easier said than done sometimes though and if you have a bad day don't beat yourself up about it!


  • Lots of good advice already. Just wanted to say that I'm guessing from your "name" you are about the same age as me. I too have had panic attacks and problems with anxiety in the past. For me actually having a diagnosis and something physical/electrical causing my problems was almost a relief especially as my attacks of fast AF have only been accompanied by mild chest ache, whereas the symptoms of my panic attacks were far worse ( and continued after my AF diagnosis without any change in heart rate or rhythym!) I finally ( after a nudge from our dog behaviourist!) had three therapy sessions with a Human Givens therapist which has helped so much ( and that from a skeptic !!) The book below was where I started and the 7 -11 breathing mentioned by CDreamer is in the book too. Your breath is always there to ground you if you feel the anxiety creeping up.

  • Hello there oh dear me I'm sorry to hear you're finding this so hard. We all do sometimes!

    Loads of great advice and good wishes here already but to add my tuppence-worth....

    A major bleed due to an accident when on anticoagulants is EXACTLY as likely, or unlikely, as when not on them. They don't predispose you to crash cars more often or fall on a carving knife. (Also reckon Zumba is totally blade free 😉). Yes there is no antidote currently available but my GP recentre told me something very interesting - that a) an antidote has been developed and may be available for use by NHS trusts within months and b) in 6 months as a registrar in the busiest A and E in Europe he only once knew of anyone needing the warfarin antidote to be administered. In other words, all other bleeds regardless of anticoagulant or not were dealt with in the usual way with pressure etc.

    Would you rather have a massive stroke than a bad cut necessitating a bit more pressure and maybe even in worst case scenario a transfusion?

    You need to confide your fears to the professionals and they will reassure you but you also have to be prepared to listen to what they are saying AND BELIEVE IT.

    I have recentry heard of a lovely ex colleague who died within 8 months of having MND diagnosed. AF is a pain in the bum and we all come here for a jolly good moan sometimes but it is NOT going to kill you and you really need to get back to living your life. Go and do some Zumba - just don't take up sword swallowing 😀

  • Thanks for your message and, believe me, I hear what you say and I'm desperate to get there. Seeing my cardiologist today and will be asking some of the questions you refer to. Getting to the stage that I know that the worrying and anxiety is more dangerous than the af. This forum is a great help and people like you make a massif difference, thanks again.

  • Are you taking magnesium? Try powdered and mix in water. Morning & night. Don't drink alcohol and coffee for a while . Go on low-carb diet for a while. I was better almost immediately on this program. I've had only two very short cases afib in five months. One case was 30 minutes and the other was six hours with a low 90 bpm rate

  • Dear Dapper

    A phrase you will often see on this site is that 'AF begets AF'. I am starting to understand this. For a while I thought I only had AF episodes when I was relaxing. Now I realise I only notice them when there is nothing else occupying my mind (work, good book, knitting, having a good laugh with friends, visiting new places etc, etc). Now although I know that means I have had to accept that I may actually have more episodes than I think I do, it means AF is not controlling my life. If you have been checked by medics, and particularly if you have got anti-coags sorted, try to let the AF sit in the background and go out and enjoy yourself. do however make sure you have told your travel insurer about your condition. It may add a bit to your premium, but it will add to your peace of mind that you are covered. If you do have an 'off day' on your cruise, you can just take it easy and literally watch the world go by.

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