Panic attack and/or AFIB: Hi all, I was... - AF Association

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Panic attack and/or AFIB


Hi all,

I was feeling really anxious at work on Monday. I had had a big lunch that made me feel full and so I went for a walk to relieve some pressure. Came back to work and was still anxious. I climb the stairs to my office, about 15 steps, and suddenly my heart started beating really fast, which triggered a panic attack. It was an embarrassing ordeal. Lasted like 10 minutes with coworkers around me. I just could not calm my heart rate down no matter how many deep breaths I took. Again, it only lasted 10 minutes, and I didn't notice any fluttering or abnormal rhythm. Just a fast heart rate. I know I was having a panic attack, but could it also have been afib? Does the heart have to flutter or be out of rhythm to be in afib, or does a fast rate count too?


10 Replies

I have that, too on occasion even if I don't feel panicked or anxious. I had afib as well until I had an ablation in late November. I have an inserted loop recorder and it has shown only tachycardia, which is a fast heart-rate, not afib. My EP is not concerned about it. Controlled deep breathing does help, but coworkers standing around do not. Best of luck!

With Atrial flutter the heart stays in rhythm, plus various forms of SVT.

I think it was more likely to be a panic attack induced by anxiety, AFib is when the heart goes out of rhythm so it will go fast, fast, fast, fast, fast fast. It isn't a fast heartbeat, although the rate often does increase but another indicator for panic is the feeling of not being able to catch your breath - different to just feeling breathless when something is wrong with your heart.

I used to carry a brown paper bag and breath through it for panic attack breathing, a few breaths and biologically everything settles.

Remember breathing - whenever you start to become anxious - notice it and then stop whatever you are doing and just focus on your breathing, slowing it down and taking deep, slow breaths rather than the fast shallow ones which lead to panic attacks.

The only way to know for sure is of course to have an ECG, but to catch that when you feel fast heartbeat is the trick, not easy unless you carry a portable ECG gadget around with you - which many of us do.

Anxiety and panic attacks are not good for wellbeing generally and can lead to heart problems and are a pretty good siren that you need to change something in your life.

Ooooh....... and look at the next post........

Ok, sorry you had that. Could be panic? Let the experience go, could happen to anyone. Now you are aware slow breathing rate, stay calm. I know it isn't nice and its a bit embarrassing but hey...

Hi, anxiety can trigger AF for me. When you have anxiety / panic attacks your fight or flight kicks in which produces adrenaline. Adrenaline can trigger AF. Well done for been aware of it and taking that walk. You did the right things it just didn't quite work this time I suspect the stairs increased your heart rate and as you were hyper sensitive to what your heart was doing this increased the anxiety.

I have got help through the NHS with CBT and use an app called headspace. Headspace helps develop mindfulness and has sessions to use in 'emergencies' , e.g. You could have listened to it whilst in the walk.

Thank you so much everyone!!!!

Keep a food diary to see if a pattern emerges with foods that may trigger your episodes. This is what I'm doing at the moment as the medication the cardiologist prescribed made me feel worse. Look at the FODMAP diet, it will explain things, Good luck

I suffered anxiety attacks while flying ( when I was in PAF ) so I had hypnosis ( two sessions) and found this also relieved a lot of the PAF symptoms. Well worth trying it out if only for the calming effect exercises that work - besides all the other advantages.

T_costa in reply to sleeksheep

Thank you! Might try out hypnosis !

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