AF Association
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ARNP thinks I had an anxiety attack?

An ARNP wants to put me on anxiety med before I see a cardiologist. She does not think I have Afib as it only happened once coming out of anestheia. I do not want to go on anxiety drugs! I want see a cardiologist and get his opinion. This is very confusing for me as I am new to the Afib experience. I would appreciate you opinions.

4 Replies

Hi, if you really don't want to take anxiety tablets then say so. Do you generally have anxiety or was it a one off experience?Prolonged anxiety can cause heart rate irregularities. What happened during your anxiety attack? Did your heart rate go up and was it erratic? The difficulty is not knowing whether it was anxiety or AF. If it was AF it may well happen again out of the blue, and if it does get it checked out at A&E and they and you will know. If it were me I would definitely get another opinion, and take advice from a cardiologist to set your mind at rest. Try not to worry, speak to someone who can give you good advice.

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Hi Tessybear, I had an episode of AF whilst in A&E following a hip fracture. Touch wood I have never had another one. That was 4 years ago. Try not to worry but definitely get followed up.


I must state a vested interest here as I was part of the committee which managed the introduction of arrhythmia nurses to hospitals in England.

These nurses are trained to MA level in arrhythmia and cardiac matters and to be honest most are more qualified in understanding arrhythmias than most normal cardiologists. In fact we did a pole of EPs at several London hospitals and asked if they would prefer an ARNP or another registrar and all went for the ARNP.

If you are not prepared to take her advise then don't waste you time seeing a cardiologist. go to an EP direct.

The other advice I would give is to talk to your GP and arrange a system where you can get an ECG done at short notice to hopefully capture any AF event. If you wanted to go the extra mile. then buy a Kardia (Alivecor) and get your own trace as proof if you are sure that you have AF.

Many people can take their own pulse and that is easy when you can tell at once if it is just racing or chaotic as it must be for AF to be present.

I know that for years people were fobbed off with panic attacks when they had AF but it is easy to confuse both ways.


The difficulty is that unless you capture an AF episode on an ECG it is not documented. If it is not documented then it is unlikely that you would be treated, whichever it is means your anxiety levels will rise anyway as AF evokes anxiety! Chicken and egg? Possibly, as stress can trigger an episode of AF and chronic stress certainly exacerbates AF.

Good advice from Bob and Tessybear. If you do have another episode then ensure you get it documented through ECG. You could have just had a one off episode and you may have further episodes in the future but unfortunately there is nothing at all which is going to prevent having further episodes, therefor you are left with the anxiety of having a further episode, which as has been said can evoke irregular and/or fast heart rate.

Are you anxious? (Whether or not you have AF) If so you have the choice as to whether or not to take offered medications or pursue other methods of soothing anxiety such as breathing exercises, exercise, mindfulness,nota, medication etc etc. All can help and in my opinion are much better options than medications anyway.

You can refuse treatments so if you are uncomfortable about taking the meds, I would just say thank you, but no thank you.

Best wishes CD.

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