AF Association
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New and scared

I have recently been diagnosed with AF. This is after being told numerous times that I am just anxious and need anti-depressants. The 24 hr ECG proved I had AF, now the GP cannot do enough to help.

I take 12.5 Bisoprolol, and apixabam, but still get AF at least 4 times a day, and especially at night.

Is there a specific diet that helps the symptoms, or lifestyle changes, I am in the dark. Scared and alone.



13 Replies

Hi jo I am new here and went through exactly the same thing about anxiety, if you read my posts you will see . I am 44 and got diagnosed last November. It was a shock , but I am having an ablation in about 3 months time . You will get some good advice on here like I have over the past week. Do you get any little warning signs before your AFib kicks in ? I get ectopic heart beats 💗 but only had one run of AFib that I felt in November. I don't no about diet but certain things like caffeine alcohol and some hot spice foods start me off. Also chocolate. I am sure you will get loads of feedback on here 😊 best wishes X



Jo first off go to AF Association main website and read all you can.

You have AF therefore you will have AF but this is not the end. Good life style changes such as a move to a more plant based diet, avoid stress, caffeine and alcohol have all been reported as helping reduce symptoms.

Great you are on anticoagulation as stroke is a real risk for us with AF but you do need to see an expert and not rely on your GP. Cardiologists may not be best either as we class these as plumbers. AF is an electrical problem so you need to speak to an electrician who goes under the title of electrophysiologist. If you are not getting support and satisfaction from your current doctor(s) then do ask to be referred.

Sadly your story is all too familiar especially for ladies but now is the time to move forward. Life may not be the same for sure but it goes on and many of us have long and fulfilling lives with AF.

Finally you are not alone unless you ignore the million or more in UK with AF let alone the rest of the world. Ask us anything and we will try to help.



Thank you. xx


Hello paddygal and welcome.

First of all, you are not alone - we all know exactly what you are going through after diagnosis.

It may not feel like it to you at the moment, but things do get easier with knowledge, a good cardiologist or electrophysiologist (cardiologist specialising in heart rhythms) and a treatment plan.

The best sources of help and knowledge are this forum and the main AFA website which you can access here via the link

There are downloadable leaflets and articles on all aspects of AF.

Has your GP referred you to a cardiologist or an electrophysiologist (an EP) yet? That is usually the best way forward in deciding how to manage your AF.

If your episodes are triggering mainly at night, you may have vagal AF which can be helped by the way you eat - small meals and the type of food. I'm not too well up on this area as my AF is adrenaline driven but there are other posters who, hopefully, will join in.

Lifestyle changes are essential and in a nutshell are usually:- avoid alcohol, processed food, artificial sweeteners, colourings and flavourings, limit sugar and chocolate. Lose weight if you need to and get anything such as thyroid, blood pressure problems or sleep apnea treated. Try to do mild exercise every day and enjoy a hobby or past time.

You will get the hang of it - knowledge is our greatest asset and it is good that your GP is supportive.

Do ask anything - someone will be able to help.


I remember feeling like you do, I am sure things will improve, especially after seeing the right people. As suggested get a referral to an EP. Best wishes



I'm new to this forum but not to AF which I've had for several years.

At first I found that when I was in AF it was all I could think about, constantly checking my pulse and concentrating on that feeling in my chest.

After seeing several not very helpful consultants I finally found someone who knew about AF which helped enormously.

As others have already said find a good EP in your area.

In the meantime unless the symptoms are very bad try to concentrate on something else. I find yoga and gentle exercise help a lot.


Hi Paddygal, you have had a lot of good advice already. Take it one day at a time learning from here and elsewhere and back your own feelings e.g. cardiologist doesn't seem right or food makes you feel funny make changes. A few more notes on how I have successfully avoided AF and an ablation on just Flecainide over 3 years.....

Be prepared for feeling rotten at the start, I was very anxious bordering on depression but don't take those anti-depressants. Start early on stress reducing exercises (Deep breathing, Yoga, Qigong, Nature walks, Mindfulness, start a new hobby), include prayer if you have a faith, reduce gluten (but buy a quality bread substitute not supermarket 'cardboard' full of gum), reduce sugar, give AF priority over everything and build a better life using AF i.e. it can really be positive in avoiding other problems in the future. See an Alternative practitioner re supplements e.g. Magnesium & CoQ10.

I am still learning.... the latest is deep breathing x3 (in, hold 4 secs out 6 secs) regularly during the day and when I wake up in the night really makes me feel better and eating early in the evening 5pm helps sleep.

How do I feel today, absolutely normal with a normal busy life. How will I feel tomorrow no clue but I will worry about that tomorrow if necessary. Good luck and Happy Easter!


Sincere thanks, thats what I needed to hear. Everyone here has helped, I feel much better about the future now.


Yes having AF is scarey. The main thing is that you are on anticoagulants which will protect you. I must say you are not alone. Reading this forum lets us know that there are others out there suffering and frightened. Its taken me 3 years to get right again. 3 ablations on I have been AF free for 18 months. So there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep contact with health unlocked. We do care and understand. Its good to talk.

Best Wishes


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I have a thought which helps keep me calm when I have an episode. "It's not life threatning, it just feels like it" Slow even breathing is good. Also I have become more self indulgent. A anti coagulant nurse with decades of experience told me it can be all about keeping the heart calm. So I do hobbies and activities which make me feel good but not overexcited. We are all different though. Some people on this forum find exercise can get them out of AF. Learn not only about the condition but also what helps you.


Bisoprolol slows down your heart rate, so the AF won't damage the heart and will probably be less distressing, but it won't do a lot to stop it. There are other drugs which will help to do that, if it is important to you to stop it. If it doesn't affect your quality of life then it is not essential to stop it, only to slow down the heart so that it beats at a rate below 100, even when in AF. However, if it slows your heart when not in AF too much, then you will feel rotten at other times - a normal heart rate above about 60 seems to leave us feeling good!

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Hi Polski, the rate control drugs (of which bisoprolol is a beta blocker rate control) affect the sinus node to slow down the contraction of the ventricles, but the atria will still beat fast. Yes, rate control drugs are not aimed at returning to normal sinus rhythm; the rhythm control drugs are.

The focus of the medical field is very much on the "quality of life," and sadly not on the progression of AF. In my opinion, when one gets AF, one should evaluate how quickly the AF may progress, which mine did big time and now I am in persistent AF.

GPs are not really qualified in the treatment of AF (mine certainly wasn't allowing the condition to deteriorate to persistent in one year before he sent me to a cardiologist) The cardiologists are general -- plumbers as has been defined by some.

So paddygal, get yourself referred to an EP (electrophysiologist) as soon as possible before any more time is wasted as your GP has already wasted some time as my GP wasted mine big time.

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Hi Everyone, thanks for the advice, its been invaluable.

Things are not great, I now take 17.5 Bisoprolol, but still have bouts AF, at night. Ive seen a consultant, had a angiogram and cardiograph, 2 months ago, but heard nothing.

I am struggling, I am so tired, exhausted to be honest. I hold down a full time job as a Nurse, working 11hours a day in a non-stop chaotic service. By the time I finish work, I can barely get upstairs to bed.

I am lucky to get 6 hours sleep (the AF kicks in big time at night) and I am piling on the weight, I don't have the energy to exercise, too tired to cook healthy so grab anything just to eat.

I feel so low in mood, lost and fighting a losing battle.

Nobody seems to understand (except here) all I hear is, "Oh yeah, lots of people have AF without knowing it, its not serious".

To me its life changing, I have lost me, the person I was has gone.

There is no light at the end of my tunnel


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