Shortness of breath

My husband was diagnosed with AFib about 2 years ago. His main complaint was, and still is, shortness of breath. He doesn't experience feeling any fluttering although it shows up during testing. Lately he is experiencing extreme shortness of breath after midnight which wakes him up. He states he feels restricted in taking a deep breath. All testing on his heart shows no blockage and a healthy heart otherwise. Anyone else experience this? He has an appt Monday with his cardio. We are guessing he is probably in extreme AFib during these episodes.


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9 Replies

  • The main possibilities to consider are asthma or heart failure. So respiratory function tests, an echocardiogram and 24ht ecg monitor should clarify things.

  • What drugs is he on? Beta blockers can cause this problem especially if he is even borderline asthmatic.

    He may also be suffering from sleep apnoea which is commonly associated with AF . Has he had a sleep study done? Worth discussing with consultant.

  • He had all these tests done about 3 months ago. These episodes in the early AM started about a week ago when he had a sinus infection/cough.

  • maybe an infection or a lung problem . If he gets worse it maybe worth contacting a doctor over the weekend.

  • Has he had a chest X-ray? Are his ankles or tummy swollen? It may be fluid if he has a degree of heart failure. Has he tried sleeping with more pillows to prop him up?

  • One of my main complaints with AF was shortness of breath at different times when I was not in rhythm. I always thought this was caused by long pauses between beats. On one trip to the ER the cardiologist who monitored my heart diagnosed it as my heart going from 60 bpm to 170 bpm or more in a couple of seconds. I was totally unaware my heart was racing that fast. It would cause me to almost gasp to get a breath and nearly pass out. To try and stop this high fluxuation, he had me take a beta blocker in the morning and at night, so if I went into AF I wouldn't have the symptoms of difficult breathing and near passing out. This helped until my ablation finally started to work for me.


  • He is on beta blockers and blood thinner for about a year. He states the shortness of breath worsened when he started the meds. It's just odd that he has a bad episode in the wee hours of the morning for the last week or so. We have an appt with his cardiologist on Monday. The Dr has always been surprised that my husband doesn't feel when his heart is in Afib. He's 75 years old but in very good physical health besides the Afib. People think he's around 60.

  • I did find the beta blockers made me feel short of breath; sometimes, when I went to bed but mostly when I walked, feeling like I was going up hill on a straight path. Not sure why your husband's MD is surprised about how he feels in AF. Some people don't feel anything but I will bet the majority of AFibbers do have issues with breathing, lethargy, chest discomfort and palpitations. I do hope your cardiologist is an electrophysiologist (EP). The EPs are specifically trained in heart rhythm disorders and, while, a cardiologist can be helpful, the best 'mechanic' for AF an EP. Hope things turn your way. Take care for now.


  • YES!! I experience this and it's horrible and pretty scary. Even when I'm just sitting doing nothing, I'll gasp for air and then breath really hard. The doc I saw yesterday said it's because the heart is beating too fast and once it slows that will go away. Well, this has been going on for over a week. I know I just started medication (from the ER and prescription after) on Monday 7/31/17, but I'm still struggling to breathe. No idea how long it is supposed to take to slow the heart down with just meds. I hate this feeling.

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