Stress

Morning all

I've been reading some of Dr John's posts and I am coming to the conclusion that AF is not a disease or 'condition' on its own, but rather a symptom of something else. Obvious in a way I know but it's been quite a lightening bolt for me.

I've struggled, since diagnosis in March, with the "why me?" type questions. Unlike many I know, I'd never had a single flutter and had lived for 48 years quite oblivious to my heart beat. I was healthy, very active, with no medical issues at all, low BP et al.

Suddeny one evening while watching tv I felt the mad thumping and racing and surge of adrenaline we are all familiar with and 2 weeks later had a firm diagnosis, pills for life and a very likely 'different' old age than I had anticipated.

At the time no doctors or cardios or EPs asked about stress. I didn't join the dots. But let me tell you I experienced some of the worst stress of my life in March, after an incredibly trying year, and within days of really terrible news for our family security I had my first AF attack. Ongoing stress has been drilling away at my mind for 18 months by then and continues and will do for as long as the oil price is in a slump and our small business is clinging on in a sea of huge tax bills, school fees and an overworked beloved husband looking older and more tired each day.

It cannot be a co-incidence! I am going to embark in the New Year on a programme of self improvement - for me that will mean exercise without fear, yoga, lots of family time and trying to save cash and work a bit more to get some wool on our backs. I'm going to discuss coming off the calcium channel blockers which haven't done much besides add a stone in weight (but stay on the anticoagulant of course).

I'd love to hear others' thoughts on stress as a cause, as well as a trigger, of their AF.

Be well x

20 Replies

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  • I always found that is was post stress during relaxation that it hit me but we are all different. 50 years in the high stress world of motor sport did it for me I'm sure.

    It has been said that AF can make people live longer if they stop and listen to their bodies and make life style changes to improve their life/work equation. Too many people live to work rather than the other way round. Good luck.

  • Without a doubt, in my case, stress is the main protagonist for my arrhythmia. Family history too for me as I assume we need some sort of predisposition to af in the first place.

    My life has been lived in the fast lane in all respects and stress feels as though it's in my Dna as I am so used to it. I am convinced I am now paying the price in terms of arrhythmia. I find that post stressful incidents is when I am most vulnerable to af/Svt incidences. I have recently been under great health stress and lo and behold, once resolved, the arrhythmia reared its head big style.

    You are absolutely right in your plan to change your lifestyle, go for it and be well. Best wishes for a calmer time for you and your family. X

  • think you are right and your health must take priority. some people on here have some excellent meditations that might help- I hope they may post them for you

    good luck

  • You are absolutely right. aFib is a symptom. Your fate depends on the dissease what caused the the aFib. The spectrum is broad - from the miocardial infarct to the far more benign genetical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

    Stress not causal for aFib, but may provocate it if you have (like me) the structural changes in the heart tissue. Yoga might be excellemt for the alleviation.

  • My wife believes the stress/anxiety/worry I put on myself through has caused my AF. She may be right - she is about most things! Either way I now have a condition that currently involves taking some quite toxic drugs that makes me worry about them and the effects on my body as well as worrying about my overall prognosis. What if's? I have never been told what caused my AF - I just have it.

    I have started yoga, have a mindfulness APP on my phone and have started back down the gym. I used to relax with a couple of glasses of wine but can't really do that now.

  • Hello Scottishmuppet, as Bob says we are all different, but stress has always been a factor for me. I had Heart Palpitations for 20 years before I was diagnosed with AF, and in 2007 both me and my Husband were 60 and had a holiday to Italy. Although I have a fear of flying I decided to bite the bullet for my Husbands sake, but as soon as I boarded the Plane, the palpitations came on so bad I thought I wouldn't make the trip, but as soon as the plane landed, the palpitations stopped. Again in 2014 , we had a phone call to say my Brother was very ill in intensive care, immediately my heat started pounding so bad I could hardly breath. We can stop smoking and drinking and lose some weight and stop doing the things we are told will trigger AF, but how do we stop stress coming on when life throws something bad at us ? I'm sorry you're going through a rough patch and I hope things will start to get better soon. I wish you and your Family a Happy Christmas and a much better 2017.

  • Yes - me too. I think that the type of personality we are is a stress factor too. When I was diagnosed, I was happily retired from a job with very high levels of stress and always prided myself on being able to do ten things at once.

    After diagnosis I gave myself a good talking to and tried to slow down - it's a learning experience to try to break the habits of a lifetime. I often wonder if there are any 'laid back' people with AF?

    Best wishes with your new lifestyle - may it help in every way, not just with calming the AF. xx

  • Stress WAS the leading reason for me developing PAF in my late 50's. I was in a bad relationship that should have ended years earlier, but being the good guy white knight I stayed with it and incurred heavy personal health and emotional damage that I regret today even 5 years later. My GF lived with me for many years and If I could do over again I would have done things significantly different as I am paying for that the rest of my life.

    Now I keep myself away from stressful situations as best I can.

  • Thank you everyone for sharing and for your good wishes. There is obviously still a lot for the medical profession to learn (or accept) about this condition and I am always better for having asked a question here. Have a great weekend all.

  • Stress can for sure be a trigger, but I didn't develop full blown AF until AFTER retirement...as a special education teacher and mother of four, working the whole time. I often felt ready for an emotional meltdown, but simply hadn't the time! Considering a brother, sister, and several nieces and nephews with AF, I'd say there is a strong case for genetic predisposition, with life styles a contributing factor. We are all nondrinkers and otherwise health conscious, so pretty sure physiology plays a large part. My only true relief came with ablation.

  • I do think stress is a trigger for AF. I'm sure mine is as I have had a lot of stress for years.

  • I too have read a lot here and elsewhere. Forgive me if I get the terms wrong (but you'll get the gist), its a busy 'pre - Christmas' day. My understanding of the facts for what its worth is that due to stress the parasympathetic and the sympathetic systems have been stretched. One of these calms your stress, if you have been leading a very stressful life the parasym. (I think I have got them the right way around) is dealing with it during the day and when you relax in the evening or in bed it keeps working at too high a level and calming you down more when you don't need it, what that does in turn is reduce your heart beat too much giving the AF a chance to start up.

    So, I have steadily reduced stress on all fronts and accept it will take a couple of years of changed habits and lifestyle to get the two systems back to normal. e.g. if you do have any stress at all, slow down slowly don't just collapse in front of the TV or into bed. I have changed my habits completely. Good luck.

  • When we are stressed we use far more magnesium and B vitamins - as well as all the rest! We also use these up when we process the medicines. So our bodies struggle because we no longer have enough of the necessary vitamins/minerals etc, for our bodies to work normally. Look into taking magnesium and other supplements, and then the consequences may be less dire. They won't necessarily remove the AF, but it may well decrease the severity and/or the frequency, and so possibly decrease the need for such high doses of meds.

    (But it can take six months to get enough magnesium in, and all other supplements should be used consistently for at least three months to get the full value, and then perhaps repeated on a yearly basis)

  • No stress involvement for me. Inherited and accelerated by malaria type infection.

  • I suppose it can be argued that one persons stress is another's excitement. Before I slipped into persistent AF my AF episodes could be triggered by excitement I. E. Looking forward to a holiday, going to a concert, birth of a grandchild. We are all so different.

  • At age 69,I developed afib and believe it relates to living with a close relative who is a drug addict and alcoholic these past 21 years,,,unable to desert this person whom I feel responsible for,,I have lived with unbelievable stress and chaos despite some periods of relative calm,,,also have 3 out of 10 cousins with afib,,,,it is distressing to be aware of this but no real answers seem to exist,,,,hoping to spend my remaining yeas trying to put it all in better perspective with my own health a real priority!

  • How awful for you. I hope you find a way to take better care of yourself and make your own health a priority in 2017. Best wishes.

  • Although I have had high blood pressure for years AF did not rear it's ugly head until I suffered harassment from my neighbours who actually were harassing me. The police sided with them but the CPS found I had no case to offer. However their harassment continued and till does.

    The stress of all this was and is, unbelievable especially as we had been on good terms for 6 years before they started.

    So I firmly believe that AF can be started off through stress. Of course it could have been coincidence but I don't believe so!

  • I have horrible neighbours too and I truly sympathise. Try and make the best of it and make a life within your own home. Best of luck for good health and peace.

  • Thank you so much scottishmuppet. Your words have really strengthened me.

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