Could these attacks be AF?

Since August 2016I have been having episodes which I'll try to describe. If all symptoms present it is as follows: dizziness/vertigo and blurred vision. This becomes nausea. Intense thirst starts. I become aware heart is pounding and slightly faster than usual. Very intense chest pressure and intense sensation down both arms (occasionally just left arm). Feel very unwell. Feel as if something very serious is happening (not fear, it feels like a knowledge this is serious illness - I'm not prone to anxiety). Each attack lasts 2 or 3 minutes then subsides. They have come in clusters over the course of several days - the worst ones have always started at night just when relaxing into sleep. Sometimes have episodes for two or three hours during the night leaving me totally fatigued and unwell the next day. Milder versions can come any time and though I think there are always triggers, I can't always work out the triggers (could be extreme cold; stress). Seems to be associated with GERD too - I never had even indigestion until this started but each episode seems to leave me with belching - eventually got a very raw esophagus and swallowing problems all the time independently of these episodes, had an endoscopy and I do have a lax esophageal-gastric junction and gastritis.

Had a couple of ecgs, always a day or two after the events (one at a and e, one at a nurse-led angina clinic) which find no abnormalities but I haven't had an ambulatory monitor and could not get a referral to a cardiologist as GP seems convinced that everything is GERD. I think she also thinks I have anxiety and panic though I'm actually quite calm and resigned throughout these attacks though feel very ill! It is so difficult to describe that though GERD is happening, the worst episodes though related to the GERD, involve my whole body in a way that I simply can't believe is GERD. I came across a video by Dr Sanjay Gupta on this forum on AF and GERD which I thought might describe some of my symptoms. Anyway, I'd love to know if AF can feel as described as I would probably just make a private appt to see Dr Gupta if it sounds likely or even possible.

I'm having very mild episodes today which include a little dizziness, pounding heart and thirst though they are resolving in less than a minute.

9 Replies

  • Sounds like you really need a monitor to catch and what is happening. You could consider buying a Kardia device which would allow you to measure it yourself and then have something to show your GP.

  • I agree with Richard- Cardia had an offer- not sure if still on, but well worth the money

  • So difficult if your GP is fixed on the cause. Have you had your blood sugar monitored? Have you had full blood test and did they show anything unusual? Have you been tested for thyroid dysfunction?

    Doesn't sound typical of AF - if there is a typical? - but sounds like you need some investigations to find the cause, getting a diagnosis is often the most tedious process. Certainly a Kardia trace would be evidence of Arrythmia, if you could capture an episode.

    I am afraid we cannot diagnose or advise other than go back to see you doctor and be insistent.

    AF for me was thumping in my chest that I could hear and that felt like my heart was disco dancing to a very loud, irregular beat going fast, fast, pause, slow, fast, fast. When I went to my GP he asked me to beat out the rhythm on the desk. But everyone experiences it very differently. I had no thirst, no dizziness and no nausea.

    One of the typical symptoms of AF is frequent peeing though.

  • Thank you everyone for your replies. I'll try and get the Cardia app and appliance, thanks for the recommendation. Thank you very much for your detailed reply CDreamer. I didn't like to mention the peeing! the thirst and peeing seem to go together. I could easily believe it's something to do with an endocrine surge of some kind - I have also had a calcium score of zero and a normal echocardiogram (I have quite a loud murmour which has been judged benign). I have had quite a few blood tests which seem to show something slightly different each time eg once an abnormal AST/ALT ratio but then it was ok and I do have very low ferritin. Basic thyroid test is normal. I'll post back when I get the cardia app to let you know! Thank you again.

  • Regarding the peeing! This is caused by the stressed heart causing salt to be excreted and strangely it is important to drink plenty of water so that dehydration doesn't set in, as this can make AF worse.

    Buying my Kardia was a superb investment - best wishes with yours.

  • Thankyou for the info. Have been trying to catch the episodes on my normal Samsung phone heart monitor - definitely something not right as the monitor couldn't get a reading when the episode was at its peak, the line was all over the place but it did resolve within a minute or so. Just not sure if it's AF or what! I will get the Kardio as soon as I can afford it - have to pay tax bill first😆

  • It does sound like GERD ( and diabetes ,and anxiety ) GERD has a surgical repair and diabetes in its lesser form is diet controllable, You dont say if your on any medication.

    The pounding heart and dizziness are symptoms I have experienced with AF but they did not resolve themselves in minutes , or at all before medication.

    When my wife had GERD it did impact more when prone rather than standing but the operation cured this totally.

    Have you had a Helicobacter pylori test ?

    The unknown is more frightening than actually knowing what is going wrong , it could be something as simple as an allergy .

    Most bp units have a signal if AF is suspected , mine shows a broken heart !

    Well worth £24 to know what your hearts doing during these episodes.

  • Your symptoms sound very similar to mine, several visits to gp and tests showed nothing unusual because when not in af everything is normal, after 2 years I had a particularly long episode and my gp sent for an ambulance I was diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibullation, it's hard to explain when you know how I'll you feel but by the time you get to the doctors the symptoms disappear, keep pushing for an appointment with a cardiologist

  • Thank you Denise. My symptoms have been improving and I think that's because my GERD has improved. The heart symptoms in my case do seem related to GERD (maybe to do with vagal nerve stimulation?) even though the first heart symptoms occurred way before I was even aware of any digestive problems. Anyway I have just been to the GP and she's going to do a 24 hour monitor. She has said to try to trigger an episode which I'm not keen to do. I think I might have to come off the proton-pump inhibitors temporarily. Thank you for your encouragement and I'm glad you eventually got a diagnosis. To be honest even finding this forum and having some knowledge about triggers has been very helpful - it was so frustrating before when trying to talk to health professionals who were dismissive. I am a health professional myself so maybe that makes things worse!

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