Anxiety caused by AF


Hello. This is the first time i have posted on here. I am 48 and was diagnosed with AF in October 2016. Had to be rushed into hospital. I had another 4 attacks between then and December 2016. I am or was in good health no blood pressure problems. Not over wieght. Do not smoke and only drink alcohol in moderation. I also do not drink coffee. I was however under a lot of stress last year. We had some major work done on our house and was living there whilst this was been done. Since october i have hardly as soon as i lie down my heart starts to thudder. I also had all my attacks whilst asleep. Last week i had another AF attack. This time i was awake. I have had to take time off work as i felt i was having a break down. The stress of having this condition has really taken its toll on my mental well being. The medicine i take is biosprolol. I only score 1 so not on anything for my blood. I have been reading about ablation. Do you think i should have this done or is it to soon for me. I have two children and i just want to go back to how i was before the first attack in october. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

24 Replies

  • hi Mandy,

    Welcome to the site.

    Have you seen a consultant- cardiologist and/or electrophysiologist? They would be able to advise whether ablation was appropriate.

    If most of your episodes are at night you may have vagal AF and some studies have shown beta blockers and digoxin can make the AF worse so do ask your consultant about this, mentioning that most of the episodes have been at night.

    I would avoid any alcohol at present until things have settled down.

    AF isn't life threatening- it's the stroke risk that is the main danger so try and relax a little. Plan what you will do when you have an attack- when/if you will need to go to A and E etc- and you will feel more in control.

    They'll be lots of good advice ffrommothers here

    Good luck

  • Thank you. I have had lots of tests done and my heart is fine. The specialist said he did not want to see me again. After last week when i had to go back onto a and e. The doctor said he was refering me back. I am seeing my local doctor soon. So i will gather all advice and take with me.

  • Mandy so sorry that you have joined us but we are generally a caring lot here and we do understand.

    Anxiety and AF do go hand in hand but do remember it ain't going to kill you. Like many people you say you want your life back. Well you still have a life. just a different one which can be just as rewarding.

    It sounds like you have only seen a cardiologist so far and they tend not to do much about AF other than a few pills so maybe best to ask to be referred to an electrophysiologist who is a cardiologist who specialises in heart rhythm problems. You may be suitable for ablation but you also need to understand that you have AF now and ALL treatment is only about improving quality of life and ablation may be part of ongoing treatment.

    I can also recommend that you go to AF Association website and read all you can as knowledge is power and can help you to come to terms with what has happened to you and alleviate some of your anxiety.

    Ask us any questions and we will try to help.


  • Thank you so much. This is something i will speak to the doctor about.

  • Hello Mandy.....its all a bit of a bugga aint it! The good news is you are not alone, there are a lot of folk here with a wealth of experience and you soon find your knowledge and understanding of this 'orrible condition improve. As it does, the chances are you will gradually come to terms with it and find a way for it not to rule your life as it probably does now. Because there are so many variables, the best way forward is for you to have your condition properly assessed and the ability to get this done depends largely on the medical facilities you have access too. Rosy is right when she says talks about seeing a specialist but it may take a while given the current situation with the NHS but it is something you must pursue. Very often the anxiety, stress and downright fear element is harder to treat than the AF. I know from my experience, I was climbing the walls because, like you, my lifestyle was pretty healthy, reasonably fit, and just didn't "do" illness!! If it becomes evident that seeing a NHS cardiologist/electrophysiologist will take a long time, if you can, consider seeing one privately. Again, from experience, doing this was my turning point and it did not prevent subsequent treatment being undertaken under the NHS but you should not think this will be a way to queue jump because that will not go down well!! Knowledge is the key, apart from the information you will obtain from members, there is a wealth of information available on the AFA webpage, just use the search box top left of the page. Also, look to see if there are any AF support groups within striking distance as they are a terrific source of not only knowledge, but meeting other with condition and learning from their experiences.

    We are not medically trained therefore unable to recommend treatments, but it generally understood that newly diagnosed patients, with good general health, a healthy heart and paroxysmal AF (the type, like yours, which comes and goes, are considered as good candidates for an ablation. However, you need to understand all the risks, alternatives and benfits in order that you can make any informed decisions regarding the best route forward for you.....hope this helps, best of luck, John

  • Hello Mandy and welcome to our forum.

    You have been given good advice and I would reiterate what Rosy has said about deciding in your mind what your plan of action would be should you have a further episode...particularly as you have children to consider as well.

    I too was 48 when I had my first episode...a very frightening time....with 2 children at primary school. Blood pressure normal, non smoker or drinker . In my case this was precipitated by ' diet pills ', since withdrawn from circulation. I'm still plagued with AF 24+ years later despite 3 ablations. Of course RF ablations for AF were only in their infancy then.

    I can resonate with all that you are feeling. My episodes were also almost always at night. Try sleeping partly propped up with plenty of pillows, avoiding lying on your left side if you can. Personally I read until the book drops from my grasp ....helps me get to sleep without AF thoughts!

    I do think that you should ask to be referred to an EP (electro physiologist ) as others have advised.

    Best wishes


  • Thank you. It does help to know that although i am not young. I feel to young to have this. Other people my age have this condition. I hope you lead a good life and this does not interfere to much for you.

  • This is really good advice. I live in york and i have just this minute been looking into seeing someone private. I think for my current mental health i need to see someone sooner rather than later. I need to come to terms that i have this and to take control. I have a holiday in Turkey planned for this August and am fretting so much about going. I just feel that the life i had has now gone. I have a good job that i now fear i may lose because of the time i have taken off sick. I am sick of feeling sorry for myself and asking why this? Why me? I woke up this morning and thought ok girl its time to sort yourself out. I am going back to work in the morning.

    Thank you

  • That's right not let AF take control of you. As has been said on here before ...AF may be in your life but do not let it be your life !


  • Fanbloomintastic....can't beat a positive attitude!!

  • Thank you. I just hope it lasts. I have never posted on a forum in my life. Well i have once on trip advisor. I am such a private person. I want to thank all of you for posting back to me today. I am now in the A F gang. I just have to learn that this is it.

    Thank you once again to you all.

  • I live near York...if you need a chat at any time!!! Im post ablation number 3 and been through your feelings many times!! Ann

  • As you live in York, there's lots of information and advice available on Facebook here: Yorkcardiology.

    Also on Youtube and Twitter I believe. Not pushing you there - that was not my intention, just that I like his style.

  • atta girl!

  • Mandy - Everything you say about the condition and when it happens is understood by lots of us. As you talk about the anxiety of it I wonder if EFT would help you. Emotional Freedom Technique. It's a simple tapping exercise you can do in the anxious moment. I don't get anxious when I get AF I get it when I have to attend hospital and doctors so use it them. You can buy a book or even look on You tube and follow the advise. Even better find a local practitoner. I have found it a very useful tool. The more you can settle your system down the more in control you will feel. Good Luck.

  • HI Guys, I am sometimes thinking that for those without an underlying heart condition that have AF, / paroxysmal that the anxiety that goes with it and the symapthetic / parasympathetic reactions do not help in fact make it worse over time, as we end up reprogramming our bodies behaviour. Therefore I have wondered if we somehow manage to calm the body and retrain our behaviour both internally and externally whether this might have an impact. Just a thought, but like others have said see an EP and a Cardio, take some time to understand it. I too worry because i have a 4 and a 2 year old and i struggle with the acceptance of AF, but i also think ACCEPTANCE of it is a good first step.

    I hope this all makes some sense.


  • I definitely agree with you on the importance of acceptance for your own sanity.

    I learnt to accept many years ago. Accept and try to make the life style changes which we all know make sense. This is a work in progress for me !


  • I was diagnosed 4 years ago at the age of 48, but now know that what my doctor had put down to me 'going through the change' for at least 6 years previous to that was actually AFib that was undiagnosed. When I got the diagnosis I too that that my life was over and hated the condition with a passion, thinking why me? Once I accepted that I had AFib things started to look different, so the advice above of acceptance being key is so right! I still do what I did before, I still exercise although not as much, I even climbed Helvellyn last November, ok it took 9 hours so around 3 hours longer than the first time I did it, but I did it! It is hard to accept this condition and I know it must be hard for you, especially with children, but please know that there is a life out there for you still to be lived!

    By the way, bisoprolol made me very down, tired and breathless and felt so much better once they changed my meds!


  • Thanks, Mandy for posting this and for all the replies - right on cue. I couldn't sleep last night and had some hours of fear/panic about having AF. I ended up reading which was calming and have woken this morning with a determination to get a private appointment if my referral to the AF clinic takes much longer. I think getting the facts and knowing about the treatment options is a good step in dealing with the AF anxiety. Plus, of course acceptance -the more I trying to fight this thing emotionally, the more helpless/hopeless I feel. It's inspiring to hear from all those who have taken this thing on and are dealing with it positively and creatively.

  • Mandy232426 , Just two little points which might help to get things in perspective.

    1. I recently spent 9 weeks in hospital due to an illness which was unrelated to my AF. In the first couple of days some doctors and consultants grouped around my bed and told me that the treatment for my sepsis/endocarditis was in direct contrast to that for my AF, so they had to give priority to treating the former since it was by far the most dangerous. That put AF in its place as far as I was concerned.

    2. The Sister in my ward was the only one, not only in our hospital, but in our Trust, who was "hands on" in the ward and did very heavy manual work alongside her staff. This gained her a great deal of respect from her colleagues and patients. She also had time to talk to everyone and listen to their fears. I was concerned about my AF treatment taking a back seat and told her so. She laughed it off, as she herself was post ablation for the third time and had had PAF for years.

    You have the right attitude, but everyone is entitled to a down day as long as it doesn't last too long. Xx

  • Only point I can make here is that you may suffer from feelings of anxiety for a few weeks after coming off of Bisoprolol.

  • I am 48 too with para AFIB - the kind that comes and go randomly. Have no CHADS score except the 1For being a woman. Upon my first consultation with EP at 46, they gave me a pill in the pocket of metroprolol and flecanide. I take it when I have An episode which is like 3 times a year. Within an hour, I'm back in rhythm. This year I had more episodes and talked with a new EP. I catalogued every time I got one and what precipitated it. Drinking cold water and taking multiple vitamins sends me into one. Adrenaline rushes can also like watching an intense movie or high anxiety. I have done some research and some things tell you to get rid of inflammation triggers so now I rarely eat wheat and sugar or keep it in low amounts, no caffeine and limited alcohol (like once a month I'll have a beer or glass of wine). Also I ready MSG can cause it. The dr recommended eating a high magnesium and potassium diet. Drinking coconut water, taking a drink called "CALMS" that is a magnesium drink and can help you relax. Since I have been doing that, I feel much better and haven't had another episode. Now that I have a pill in pocket, I feel much better and don't take anything else except an aspirin a day. Husband has it too and is scheduled to have an ablation this summer (took him 3 years to finally decide to do it.) Im thinking I will have one too within the next year or two. Supposedly higher success rate when done earlier. Acceptance is key and realizing it isn't life threatening just annoying as hell. Typically for a stroke, my Drs tell me you have to be in afib for over 48 hours. I would definitely get an appointment with an EP. You will feel much better when you understand the options. Good luck and try the calms drink- it's a powder you put in water and has magnesium in it. I get mine at health store like sprouts or Whole Foods.

  • Thank you. I have been reading about diet and lack of minerals. This deserves a try.

  • Also check out breathing exercises online. I forget what it is called but you take a deep breath for 5, hold for 4-5 seconds and then let out slowly for like 5-8 seconds. It's suppose to change your nervous system to a more relaxed state. I feel for you getting it while you sleep as when it happens to me, I can't sleep either until it goes away. And I am very acutely aware of my heart beats so I can understand how difficult it can be to try to tune out and relax. Meditation may help too. Good luck! It stinks getting it but at least it's night life threatening (although I know it feels that way when it's flip flopping inside your chest).. I pray you get answers and can feel peace in the midst of all of this. So sorry!

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