New to AF - in shock it happened

Hello. Thought I had a chest infection as I was having trouble breathing. I am 50. Doctor sent me to casuality and I had a heart rate of 186. Now told I have AF and they don't know why. Still in hospital, heart working at 35%, see a different doctor every day and they question why certain medication was given the day before and then they take somethings get away or add something. No consistency and not sure when I am coming home as it keeps changing daily by every doctor. Been in for 8 days now. They are talking about a scan in about 4 to 6 weeks, then a shock the heart treatment then a possible pace maker and this is scaring me so much. Any comforting advice for moving forward as healthily as possible?

23 Replies

  • Hello Spiteri, sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time at the moment. You need to understand that the majority of people using this forum are not medically trained and most comments are based on personal experiences. AF is a very complex condition that effects over 1 million folk in the UK and to make things even more complex, we are all affected differently. I doubt that this information will be particularly comforting, but at least you are now aware that you are not alone and that it does take time for the medics to properly assess how AF affects you. The good news is that you are in the best place at the moment, and clearly they are attempting to determine the best treatment plan for you. The other bit of good news is that it is generally accepted that AF in itself does not kill you, but it can be debilitating until the treatment plan becomes up on the AF Association webpages where there is a wealth of information and try to be a patient patient as the outcome is likely to be better once all the tests are completed.....hope this helps and please let us know how you get on.....John

  • This is all sounding very unconnected and I feel for you.There is nothing worse than inconsistency to worry a patient. Do you have anyone,i.e family member to help you try and find out what is going on...or what might be going on? When you are unwell it is not easy to do it yourself.

    The shock you refer to probably refers to cardioversion which others here can enlighten you about . I have not had one .

    Our lovely volunteers Bob and Ian will probably arrive soon on the site to advise you as well as others.

    Hang in there. We are here to support you.

  • Agree it sounds as if they will try cardioversion to stop the AF. You do need to have all the tests to see what started this off- the AF itself is, while unpleasant, something that can be managed effectively but it is normal for all the tests to be done to eliminate other things that may have started it off ( thyroid problems for example- easily eliminated as a possible cause through a blood test)

    Do let us know how you get on and ask questions as they arise as someone on here will have had same thing and can advise

  • So sorry things are not going your way, but they will settle down and you will probably find that AF isn't as bad as it might seem. It is a problem with the heart's electrics and an electrophysiologist (EP) is the expert rather than an ordinary cardiologist. Bob isn't on the forum right now but his wise comments usually include a remark about electricians and plumbers.

    It sounds as if you have persistent AF which can disappear with a cardioversion. It isn't as bad as it might sound. There are various good ways forward and a pacemaker might be on the list but not at the top of it.

  • Thank you for the information and a listening ears - very glad I found this forum x

  • Well what maybe really encouraging is that if this did start with a chest infection, then there is a very good chance it will all settle down once the infection resolves and you have had treatment.

    However if there was no infection and the cause was unknown then you will be joining most of us here who develop af without a known reason

  • Hi and welcome to our forum. I'm sorry to hear you are having problems with your heart rate, we all totally understand here as we were all like you and worried when we first heard we had AF. I'm about 12 years down the line now, started out just like you and right now I'm leading a totally normal life.

    The shock to the heart treatment is a very common routine process called cardioversion and involves sticking pads on your chest and administering a shock to your heart to hopefully put it back in to normal rhythm. This is all done under general anaesthetic and takes just minutes. I've had lots of these and there really is nothing to the procedure and you go home about an hour later. When my heart starts it's constant racing I really can't wait to have one. I've personally always woken from the anaesthetic to a normal heart rate.

    I believe a pacemaker is usually given to stop your heart going too slow, not too fast, but there are times when that can be the solution - too complicated to go into here.

    I can't think why you would have to wait 4-6 weeks for a scan, unless they don't see your condition as serious, but different scans can be given for certain reasons. The usual type given for AF is called an echocardiogram and that shows if all is functioning well within the heart i.e. it is pumping correctly.

    Feel free to ask any questions, we understand exactly how you are feeling. Above all try and stay calm as being anxious wont help your condition, the more relaxed you are the more likely for your heart to go back into it's normal rhythm.

    Big healing hug.


  • Thanks for your responses they are much appreciated. I have had 4 echocardiograms so far so. what is the name of the scan I have to have in outpatients in 4 to 6 weeks as it was not the same thing that I have had already. I think I should make notes of what they say when they say it but it is difficult to concentrate when all I want them to say I can go home. I am scared that the 35% is such a low number and I am only 50 - what does that mean for the future health of my heart.

  • Cross each bridge as you come to it read lots to ask informed questions and make informed decisions. Knowledge is power. As well as chatting with us write a list of the questions and ask the docs and write down their answers to digest later. Make sure you are speaking with an expert in the electrics of your heart for your AF try not to worry takes a while from diagnosis to feeling better

  • It could be MRI heart scan? This will give far more detail than echocardiogram. These tests will show if there is any structural changes in the heart which may be causing the fast AF. There is often a long waiting list for MRI unless considered an emergency, so take strength from knowing you are not considered an emergency,

  • Or could be a ct angio to look for ischaemic heart disease. This will be important to exclude if they want to use certain antiarhythmic drugs like flecainide.

    It sounds like they are trying very hard to sort you out

  • My grandmother had a pacemaker for years. Just after her 100th birthday, she fell and broke her leg. Unfortunately she didn't recover from this.

  • For I formation please check out this link -

    Whilst you are in hospital ask for the name of the consultant who is overseeing your case. Ask about his qualifications and ask if he specialises in Electrophysiology.

    Before you leave hospital ensure you will receive copies of all letters sent to your GP - this is way to get to learn about results, names etc, so you don't have to rely on memory and who said what - you may have to register at the hospital. All the medications you have had in hospital should be described in the letter.

    Many times forum members have discovered the necessity of becoming our own experts, it is all very confusing at first and of course very scary and difficult when you are not feeling well.

    Please do keep posting and ask any questions, there is always someone around to help and support,

    One of our most knowledgeable volunteers - Bob - who is often referred to in posts - is unfortunately in hospital himself so not posting at present.

    Sorry you are having such a rough time and hope you get home and feel better soon.

    Best wishes CD.

  • As C Dreamer says above make sure you get a copy of all the test results, scan results when you are discharged, I was first in hospital with AF/heart failure in 2014 for 14 days and my discharge letter was 14 pages long. Not that I understood a lot of it but it is useful to keep if you see an EP or differect cardio in the future. Unfortunately I did not know of this sight when I was in hospital, wish I had I could have asked a lot more questions as not a lot of info was given to me by medics at the time.


  • You already get excellent advices. BEFORE considering ablation try to read everything about it. There is a lot of information on forum. Between other things there is a number questions you should ask before ablation. With best wishes Arveno.

  • If you are in AF your heart is not working efficiently, if you have not been in AF for long then hopefully your heart hasnt suffered too much.

    I was in a similar position to you just over a year ago when I was 47. My heart rate was 195 and had been for at least 2 months as I was wrongly diagnosed by my GP ( said I had asthma caused by a virus)

    My heart had become enlarged but they couldn't get my heart rate below 100 to get a proper echo done.

    I was in hospital for 2 weeks until I saw an Electro Physiologist , as soon as he had seen me I was out 3 hours later with a plan for treatment.

    I had a cardioversion a month later and had another echo 3 months after that. Heart had returned to normal size.

    I'm now waiting for an ablation following several more AF attacks.

    My advice would be to ask to see an EP as soon as possible

    Try not to worry too much

    Be kind to yourself, read as much as you can about this condition

    A year on I'm a much less stressed person, eat healthier and do more exercise. So in some ways AF has been good for me.

  • Oh, and don't worry about the cardioversion, I enjoyed going in with AF and coming out in normal sinus rhythm

  • What's meds you on and do you have heart problems before just stay relax I was in the hospital for 2 weeks afib let me know

  • Sorry to hear that you have AF. It is very scary first time you have it. One had it for 18 months when I have episodes I have to phone ambulance as my HR reaches 190. I have to be cardioverted as heart will not go back itself. I had an ablation last July and I felt great. Unfortunately my AF started again 2 weeks ago have had a date for another ablation on 24 March 6 days before I go to Lanzarote. Cardio dr said I'll be ok to go.

    Only medication is APixaban.

    If they offer you an ablation take it even if it doesn't work first time you can have it done again.

    Hope all goes well

  • were you aware of any AF issues before - if not it could be the chest infection driving it.... re cardio version its a breeze you are out for about 2mins and if it works back in NSR ...hope things improve.

  • Thank you all, now at home, scan at St Barts in 5 to 6 weeks a, rare now stabilising between 60 and 80.

  • Good to hear this. It's always nice to get an update.

    We have BobD back with us now after his own trip to hospital.

  • Following a routine ecg now bn diagnosed...waiting to see what is going to be prescribed. Only sympton I have had do far is feeling more tired but out that down to my underactive thyroid.....all very confusing and worrying

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