Newly diagnosed with AF, help with some questions please

I was diagnosed with AF on Friday after spending the day in A&E. Admitted with 'fast AF' (alarming, my pulse suddenly set off at a great rate and it persisted, I called an ambulance) treated with metoprolol and bisoprolol and went back into sinus rhythm after several hours. Sent home with 5mg of Bisoprolol to take and a letter for my GP.

What happens now? I had blood tests and was wired for ECG all day in the hospital. But now what should I look out for? What tests should I have? Should I wear any heart rate monitor? Should I get a blood pressure monitor?

Found this site and various things on the web which are a godsend to trying to understand all this.

9 Replies

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  • First thing to do is go to AF Association main website and read all you can about AF, it's risks and it's treatment and then come back and ask us any questions that does not answer.

    AF is scary but it won't kill you even though it may feel that way sometimes. Sorry you have had to join our club for this most mongrel condition.

    In a perfect world you should have an echocardiogram to check for any physical anomalies in your heart and various blood tests such as thyroid etc. You also need to be assessed for stroke risk as AF increases the risk of stroke depending on various other factors. Look up CHADS2VASC and you can do your own risk assessment.

    The bisoprolol is a beta blocker which slows your heart rate when it AF and in fact most of the time and many people find it makes them feel like a zombie so don't be surprised if you feel washed out. You do need to see a cardiologist or even better an electrophysiologist who is a specialist in arrhythmias but see your GP first. Knowledge is power so do that reading please.

    Bob

  • I too had the same experience a couple of months ago had seven day tape etc now waiting for results. This is a very common occurrence and can be managed effectively try not to be overly concerned although I know easier said than done. Am with you on that one!

  • I think the best description of AF I heard was "serious but not life threatening". It is a strange condition in that different people are affected differently by the same underlying condition. My sister and I have AF: I have it permanently and it has very little affect on my life. My sister gets occasional periods of AF and, when they happen, they wipe her out completely.

    BobD is right - learn as much as you can and you'll feel better about the situation - though you probably won't understand it and what causes it - don't get hung up on causes. Live sensibly and (mostly) with moderation and you can still have fun.

    If you find drugs (especially Bisoprolol) make you feel depressed or zombified, have a word with your GP, Cardiologist or EP and see if they can be changed - there are usually alternatives. One piece of advice I was given was to make friends with the medical professionals because you'll be seeing a lot of them for a long time. I haven't been able to do that because, in my area, I never seem to see the same person twice (with the exception of my GP) but your area may be different.

    Try not to get depressed about having the condition in the first place - it is not a death sentence! There is life after (and with) AF!

  • I think your advice for a first time AF sufferer is spot on but find it difficult to "make friends with my GP". After my ablation a year last November when I slowly came off heart rate control tablets I again started experiencing periods of rapid heartbeats. His only reaction at that point when he referred me for further tests was "Oh well, we seem to be back to square one here". Not very positive!

    I eventually regained normal sinus rhythm a few months ago and am now drug free apart from Warfarin. When I asked about alternatives to this, his encouraging remark was: "Well, the AF team at Derriford are expecting you to go back into AF so you'd better stay on it."

    You can probably understand why I am now thinking of moving to another surgery.

  • All good advice above. If you want to acquire some gadgets, a blood pressure monitor is very cheap at supermarkets.

    A lot of forum members have a Kardia (formerly Alivecor) which will take and store basic ECGs which you can later show to any doctor.

    I'm slightly assuming that both would give an indication of heart rate. I don't have a Kardia.

    It is all too easy, when first diagnosed, to get slightly obsessive, so if you get these, don't use them too much!

    AF is just an electrical problem and to start with the heart can be quite normal. In time the left atrium can become enlarged, so as Bob says, an echocardiogram is a test you should have.

    We all have different brands of AF. It does not go away but progresses - sometimes slowly. The good news is that there are various ways of getting on top of it.

  • Thank you everyone this is really helpful!

  • Hi and welcome to our club. Take a nice deep breath and, as Bob said, read as much as you can on the AFA website or other similar AF organization sites. Typically it is a good idea to have an echocardiogram and a stress test to make sure there are no structural or functional issues with your heart, and that it is an electrical issue only. Electrophysiologists (EP) are the cardiologists who specialize in AF and you want to find a way to get a consult as you sort through this so that you have a great game plan and see what works best for you to keep it at bay. A fib tends to be a reflection of one's global health, so this is a good time to address any health or lifestyle issues that can contribute. Fixing them does not cure AF but it helps in the management significantly. Good luck to you as you navigate the new territory. You'll do fine. We're still standing and you will be too. Take care.

  • I would find a good headt doctor..he'll tell you what you need... how was your Blood Pressure? See the doctor first and see what he recommends for you...

  • Hi and welcome to the crazy world of AF

    Id say you have made a good start by joining the forum.

    Many have had the same scary experience so don't feel alone .

    Those first few days do turn things upside down for a while . I would not get to bogged down in self testing , mind you I dont need much of an excuse to buy a gadget. its my retail therapy . Some seem to be scared knowing to much and for others its a comfort . Others will tell you the best to get for the job.

    I guess what happens next will be down to want the docs want t to find out. Over the last 15 months I've had quite a few tests and visits to consultants clinics , but very little contact with my GP m but i have made an appointment to discus the latest letter from the hospital and the recommendations for new medication.

    The most important thin is dont let it get you down , dont be afraid to ask if something is bothering you, I found this site is a massive help and a great comfort to read other post. It certainly helped me throught he early days following that scary A&E visit

    I think the most important thing is to find out what you can

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