AF Association
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Confused and worried

Hi my name is chris and i am 20. I have been suffering chest pains for about 2 years and upon seeing my GP he put it down to anxiety, he prescribed me 10mg of propranolol which i am to take 4 times a day. It calmed the chest pains but until present i still have quiet a fast heart rate he said this was anxiety and i am just to be aware of that. About a 1 year after that i went into AF while out on a run and had to visit A&E for a a drug which they gave me through an iv, this got my heart back to a normal rhythm and they were comfortable to discharge me that night. I am left with no knowledge of what the hell is going on with my heart? is it mental like my GP claims or is it something else like a&e claim? i have had follow ups with my GP and he said i need to identify when i'am going into AF and when I'am having a panic attack. This does little to help me to live with whatever is going on with my heart. Any suggestions or experiences like this would be greatfully appreicated.

6 Replies

Well that isn't very helpful for you is it. Given your a and e treatment I would suggest you insist your GP refers you to an electrophysiologist, ( a cardiologist who specialises in the electrical activity of your heart). That way you can be given tests to ascertain the true status of your heart.

If it turns out you problems are anxiety based then fair enough you can follow a treatment regime to ease this. If you are diagnosed with an arrhythmia then a treatment regime will be given to help it.

Either way you will have a full and proper diagnosis. It's not easy challenging your doctor but you have the right to a second opinion and given your a and e trip then you can quite clearly request a referral to a cardiac consultant. Is there someone who could go with you in support if you were to find it difficult to insist.

Don't just accept an anxiety diagnosis if you feel your heart is the true issue. We know our own bodies and you are clearly not convinced so give it a try.

You need to be assertive it's medics role to diagnose fully don't be fobbed off. Good luck and hope this helps.


if you can afford to get an Alive`cor (Kardia) monitor which attaches to your phone , you could capture these episodes so your consultant can see the ECG,

Most unlikely to be panic attacks if you also had a run of AF- more likely to be one of the types of tachycardia that young people get- you may need treatment for these but they are hard to diagnose without a proper ECG so best to try and get to A and E when they happen, and they will do a 12 lead ECG


Excellent advice from meadfoot chris. Please do follow it as you need a way forward towards having a better diagnosis than you have at the moment.

Best wishes.


Thank you so much for the replies. I should have mentioned they did capture my AF at different heart rates at the a and e. I was told that alcohol and caffeine were triggers for AF by a cardiologist who also did an ultra sound of my heart, telling me structurally it was sound.

Agreeing with meadfoot i do think it is electrical activity. I will be pushing now for a second opinion as health is very important.

I should also add that even though i am 20 i do own a jewellery manufacture business which i employe 23 staff, sometimes this can be stressful any experiences with stress and AF?

Thank you again for all of your help and with adapting my life style i hope to improve my chances of staying out of AF. Any advice would be greatfully excepted.


Hello Chris, been there and have many T-shirts as a result.

I hate that they continue to suggest anxiety even once AF has been recorded. I waited 4-5 years before we eventually got the evidence on an ECG. I think it is fair to say that we all suffer from anxiety to a degree and the majority would begin to panic when first experiencing AF.

Best advice I can give regarding his ridiculous comment about differentiating between AF and panic attack is to check your pulse at the time. Panic Attack would be rapid regular pulse, AF most likely would be rapid but irregular pulse. With AF you have trouble keeping count as there may be a gap or what feels like 2 beats together. (an echo or background beat may also be a fair description)

I would suggest that they have the evidence and now they have to deal with it. You need to see a Heart Consultant and if they capture AF on an ECG again, ask them for a copy or get them to send it to a consultant. The ambulance service insist that they have no qualms about being called out for heart concerns and they will do an ECG there and then. Given the infrequency, it would be PAF and this is hard for them to capture. If the frequency increases, ask your GP for a 24 hour monitor. I initially had a break of 6 months to a year between PAF and this eventually resulted in daily episodes.

We are all different Chris and you may just get the odd event which could be treated by a 'Pill in Pocket'. That said, the AF episode may be short lived anyway and the pill would be pointless. In any case, the problem can be fixed but you need to push for action if the frequency increases.

Yes Caffeine and alcohol but also many other things can trigger AF. Over doing exercise can result in AF but so can standing up or turning over in bed. Continue to do what you do, I doubt that you will find a single trigger which could be avoided.

It's not you, if the evidence is there, it's AF.


Stress leads to adrenaline which can lead to AF. Some of us are much more susceptible to this than others.


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