Second fast Abfib and a bit freaked out!

Im 35 and I had my second bout of afib last Friday, my heart was going to fast I felt faint, out of breath and weak. It took 4 hours to reduce with some drugs from hospital. But, after that, they just kicked me out and said 'make an appointment with cardiology'! I have done a fair bit of reading and realise it porbably isn't life threatening at the moment but need a check up. Last time time it happened the tests didn't show anything but I also thought the consultant had lost my results ;)

I just wondered how people find it and get their head around the fact it could happen again at any minute (I can't recognise a common trigger). I'm booked for a cardiology appointment on the NHS which should come to in a month. Is there anything I should do in the mean time? I've felt really tired since it happened and feel really out of breath and tired today - but that may be all in my head.

I also am thinking about going privately as pychologically the worry is actually causing more harm than my heart!

Any words of wisdom.would be greatly recieved.

32 Replies

  • Others will advise but I do understand how worrying this is- it's very bad waiting for appointments. Some who post on here did get an initial private appointments so I will leave them to advise - e g on how easy it was to have subsequent treatment on the NHS.

    In the meantime, try and relax, avoid stress, lose weight if you need to, avoid alcohol for now, eat loads of fresh vegetables and fruit and keep in mind AF isn't life threatening although it feels like it!!

    Let us know how you get on.

  • Can I ask a stupid question ? I have read it isn't life threatening but I'm not sure why I get rushed to resuss when it happens? My heart rate was 200bpm but I was super calm (I'm a teacher so I know how to keep my cool, even when worried). Would it in theory just reduce itself?

    It is funny as I'm super health conscious anyway, so don't drink or, smoke. I exercise and avoid (usually) processed foods. The god of moderation is laughing at me now ;)

    Thanks so much for answering me I'm trying to keep relaxed - I just don't want to end up in resuss again peeing into a kamode!

  • I think with any fast heart rate you need to be monitored- just in case!! Also they would want to decide whether to cardiovert you if they thought the rate was causing bad side effects. There is a hormone that is released with fast AF which makes you pass urine a lot!! When it happened to me, just on the initial very vigorous attack, I though it was that it was like when you exercise a lot and your metabolism increases but actually there is a specific hormone released!!

    It's great that you are healthy- does you exercise to a high level as some athletes get AF because the heart muscle( in line with other muscles) increases with the exercise- they then have to de train- worth not over doing the exercise until you are properly tested but some exercise is good for you still.

    I am still doing some teaching- although older now so appreciate what you said about keeping calm- but it's hard not to worry about the unknown.

    Wit 'till the others advise re seeing someone privately for the first appointment.

    Your GP should be arranging and echocardiograph , blood tests, 24 hour ECH etc to look at other possible causes (thyroid for example) and it may be good to be able to take those test results to a private consultation??

  • That's so useful, thank you, I wish I'd posted on here days ago, rather than panicking.

    My doctor just said they were referring cardiology but have booked me in for a blood test. I might enquire about the other tests (which I have had done previously).

    I think you're right about getting those tests done first. My gp was really sweet, but she suggested that I rub the top of my nose if I feel it happening again and, although I'm sure that has some effect, the rate my heart was going last week would not have responded to a rub on my nose!

    Thanks again for your time (fellow teacher) I'm.starting to understand a bit more!

  • It's a scary condition I understand only too well. Once you have seen a cardiologist (incidentally are you seeing an electrophysiologist, a cardiologist specialising in the electrics of the heart) and get a treatment plan you may well start to relax a little. Check that your referral is to an EP as you need a relevant specialist.

    Alongside Rosys suggestions keep well hydrated with water as dehydration can be a trigger but don't drink ice cold as that can bring it on for some people especially if you are prone to vagally mediated af. Cut back on caffeine too. You will find your own triggers over time but they are just that, triggers, we have to have a predisposition to af in the first place.

    Not sure from your post if you have had the full range of tests but if not there is a raft of tests your EP may do after your initial consultation. Have you considered paying to see someone more quickly. It's usually around £200ish for a private consultation then they can do any tests on the NHS.

    With regard to psychological support there is cognitive behavioural therapy your GP could refer you to, or google it to see if there is anything helpful on line. Try breathing exercises which help, if you type these into the search facility on the forum it will take you to relevant posts. Mindfulness is very helpful too in helping to calm things emotionally.

    My EP wrote to my GP and asked to refer me to a psychologist specialising in chronic health issues and she was extremely helpful. I suggest you secure some help so that you don't become bogged down with the emotional aspect which I know is easy to say and only natural to do.

    Read all you can on the afa website about arrhythmia as knowledge can help.

    The symptoms you mention today are debilitating and stress will add to them but please try to stay calm and positive, the medics will get you back on track. We have all been where you are and can speak from personal experience. I must add I am not medically trained in any way whatsoever and can only answer as a fellow sufferer. Take care and best wishes.

  • Thanks for this - I definitely want to see a specialist privately as I think the worry is actually the worst thing. As far as I know, my gp has referred me to the cardiology department at my local hospital. I'm pretty sure she didn't order any tests apart from the blood testm. I might call them. Is it better to wait for the test results to see a cardiologist, otherwise I'm just going with a bit of paper with my af attack and nothing else!

    Can you just ask that they referred you to an EP? I'm not sure how clued up my gp is!

  • I would ring cardiology to check if you are seeing an EP. May as well get to the most relevant specialist straight away. You say the hospital has diagnosed afib when you were in resus so they know you have an electrics problem.

    I am assuming your GP has referred you to general cardiology and it would be good to think that cardiology have seen your recent hospital diagnosis via a and e and stacked things up. However you can check via a phone call.

    This is assuming cardiology is at the same hospital as where you went into a and e.

    Your GP will have sent relevant information along with your referral and any test results on your record. The specialist will refer you for any tests they deem necessary after your consultation so the sooner you get in front of your specialist the better.

    This all sounds like a minefield right now at the start of your journey but things will stack up for you as you go along. Ask as many questions as you want on the forum ongoing there is always someone who will have an answer or suggestion or experience to share with you.

    Welcome to this club, one where we would all be pleased not to be a member but here we all are and all here to tell the tale. The medics will get you sorted and life will settle down and become good again rest assured.

  • I've been to two different hopsital both times so neither will have my records. Sounds like I should do a bit of admin and calling to make sure I get to the right person to get the tests going. I'll hold off with the private consult as I have nothing to go to them with!

    I am really hoping this isn't exercise related as exercise keeps me sane! I've just continued with light exercise but making sure my heart rate doesn't go too high.

    Thanks - I'm feeling like I need to be a bit more proactive with my doctor now I have a bit more info.

  • Good idea to keep exercise to scale till you have had expert input. Also ask your GP for advice on it in the interim. Everything in moderation until you have some answers.

    We all need a good exercise regime to be healthy just rein it in for now, better safe than sorry short term.

    Be gentle with yourself emotionally and physically, you will get back to normality, now it feels scary and unnerving but it won't always seem like that.

  • This is good sound advice. I am also very new to the forum. The supporting advice has helped me so much. I am 48. Started with this in october 16. I was under extreme stress. House extentention. Work. I also work in a school. Taking care of my own kids. I know the stress of having an AF attack can bring it on. Today i have been for a lovely walk in the country side. Up on a steep incline my heart started pumpung. Which it should. I panicked thinking it would go out of rhytmn. It didnt.l spent the rest of the walk thinking how or where the nearest A and E was. I am now sat at home. Having missed beats and feeling anxiious that my AF may start. BUT. After today it has made me realise i have to spend the money and see an EP privatly. For me the NHS has always helped when i needed it. However the last time i was in A and E with this. The doctor was amazing and he said he was refering me back to the cardiogolist ( he wrote me off because all tests came back clear. Just told me not to drink coffee or alcohol. Prescribed with betablockers and told if i wanted to have an alcoholic drink to increase th dose ) i went back to my doctor who said to me " it will get better, i wont refer you back for the moment". I have now got a telephone appointment with the doctor for this week.thats earlier than face to face. Thanks to the support and advice given to me from the people from this forum i am prepared to ask for an NHS referal with enough knowledge, now to know what i am talking about. But i am also prepared to pay privately.

    Food for thought for you. I would ask you to read all comments from this forum. These people know so much and if like me the anxiety of having another attack is starting to have an impact on your day to day living. Go private.

    Let me know how you get on. I will also.

    Take care.

  • Most doctors would advise not to drink other than increasing meds- which I think sounds odd!

  • That's great that you're feeling more confident to ask for the proper referral. I dont know how gps can make decisions in ten minutes, I really don't envy their jobs at all. This forum is really helpful I feel even a little more informed.

    I sent out an email round to work to let people know I have these attacks of afib some times and said what to do - I did this because I was really close to passing out last time. Should I go to a and e if it happens again? I can you sit it out? My pulse was about 180 - 200 resting.

    I'm thinking of cycling to London today it is 14 miles but this attack has made me a bit scared, but my heart rate never gets that high what a head play!

  • My pulse goes over the 200s, not fun and I am in resus then too, Rosys post says it all. Ask away here there is always someone, as diverse as this condition is, who has the same symptoms and experience as you. Welcome to the forum. Please let us know how you get on.

  • Welcome to the club none of us want to be in... I was 39 when I had my first episode after s heavy bike ride and run.... since then I've had one small episode lasting around 30 mins... I decided to be aggressive in my treatment to try to nip it in the bud as early as I could before it became entrenched....I underwent an ablation last oct, touch wood so far I'm doing well👍🏻👍🏻

  • Wow, that's good for thought. Did you do that privately.

  • I signed up for trial of new procedure

  • Mine was persistent for two years but I didn't go to hospital. I'm now five years done the line after a variety of tests and treatment. I take meds and have a pacemaker which in the main gives me good QOL . Educate yourself about the condition formulate questions to enable informed decisions. Good luck and welcome to the forum

  • You asked "I have read it isn't life threatening but I'm not sure why I get rushed to resuss when it happens?" Well, if anyone presents with a heart problem the first thought is 'heart attack!!! - they might die on my watch!!!'. I think I'd respond that way, and any way, it is safer to take you to A&E or the 'Emergency Room' or whatever, than leave you.

    Yes, I'm new here too and recognise the anxiety that a bout of AF causes. I was left weak and tired (mind you 10 hours sat up on a trolley in A&E would do that to anyone even without the AF!). The anxious nights of broken sleep that follow leave you still as weak and tired as the AF itself did. It has taken me over a week to calm down and get back to normal life without constantly thinking about what I'll do if/when it happens again. My only resource has been the fantastic people and their collective wisdom on this forum, I'm still waiting to see a cardiologist.

    I suggest that you don't rush into anything (I did, I bought a Kardia the next day!). You are right to wait until you have some more evidence.

  • Good to have the Kardia- great to catch short bursts and you can e mail them on to your doctor!!

  • Can I ask what a kardia is? I have seen these alive for things but I don't think I need anything like that as hopefully I'll get some tests which show what's going on? It'll stress me out more !

  • Hi eddieacorn. A Kardia is a flat black plastic bar with two metal plates on it and stuffed with electronics that act as a two-wire Electro Cardiograph machine, when used in conjunction with an Android or IOs smart phone. It is designed to be stuck to the back of your phone case, but can be carried loose. Marketed by a firm called AliveCor. In the UK it costs £99 plus if you want to use it a lot and keep all your recordings, there's a subscription charge of £10 per month. Your first month is free.

    Now there are different views both on this forum, and in the medical profession about this device. It can generate added anxiety or addictive behaviour, or the opposite (in my case). I find it very reassuring that I can establish that I am still in sinus rhythm at any time of day or night, if I start feeling strange.

    Google Kardia.

  • Kardia is an app and a small device that goes with it and costs £90+. It records your heart rate and rhythm and tells you if Afib is suspected. But instead I have a phone app called Preventicus, which costs £4.99 for a month or £24.99 for a year. It works by holding your little finger under the camera of your mobile phone. It will either give you a quick, 1 minute reading of heart rate and rhythm or a 5 minute exact reading that you can email to yourself or GP etc. It has 3 interpretations - green is normal, amber is something not quite right and red is arrhythmia / suspected atrial fibrillation. If you google Kardia and Preventicus, you can find info about them.

  • Hi Kath. I have a free app on my phone that uses the same methodology to give me my pulse rate. I have heard though, that pulse and heartbeat are not necessarily the same? The pulse app will give heart rate from the pulse but not show other events in the train of beats. Maybe I heard wrong though, this was somewhere on the forum, not a medical opinion.

  • Preventicus gives you a printout of the heart rhythm - google it to see. I took the pdf files of my arrhythmia recordings to my GP and she accepted them as proof of Afib.

  • Hi, and sorry to hear you have acquired AF! I was diagnosed in March after a year of being told it was my imagination. I saw a cardiologist privately, and he arranged an echocardiogram and a 7 day monitor. However, he is anti ablation so I'm in the process of arranging to see an EP privately, just for an initial consultation. There is a 6 month wait on the NHS in my area. At least I'm taking blood thinners now which is one less worry.

    Good luck and definitely go private for your peace of mind.

  • Like you I too was very distressed after first attack. Luckily I've only had two major ones. Terrifying. I saw cardiologist privately as I needed to know what was going on. I think money well spent. I then reverted to nhs but in fact I've not needed to see anyone. I'm 66 female and was in good health I hope but stressed with job and at the time, Xmas , I take magnesium and Hawthorne like clockwork. I was on anticoagulant for five months as a precaution.

    Cardiologist gave me echocardiogram and looked at arteries to see if clogged. I would check the background of any cardiologist and many onnthis group would see an electro person. An EP. Problem with NHS is you might not see a consultant Good luck xx

  • It sounds like you are doing very well i.e. keeping calm when it happens I'm like that too even when the beats went up to 240 in A&E. Your experience of being rushed into recuss might have worried you but its GOOD that they give us priority when we arrive for them until they see us they don't know if its a heart attack or not. It's certainly what they test for when we are there to be sure. If you ever walk into A&E don't wait in the queue - give them the nod you have AF and then sit they will give you priority. Your main concern how you are feeling and I agree that CBT will help you - it will teach you you have the feelings but with you I think you know - its a shock and a panic about what is happening. You may have to wait for that too. Something very easy to learn - you can just watch it on You tube or buy a simple book is EFT. It's one step on from CBT it gets rid of the feelings you have when in the moment - its a simple tapping technique which is a very handy tool you can use anywhere and for many things not just AF. Good Luck.

  • It is a very scary thing when Afib strikes, and panic is normal. But as time goes on, I am more used to it and "wait it out". My events last a couple hours on average. Sometimes I take another 50mg of Flecaniade which sseems to bring it under control after an hour or so. Try not to stress over this, you will learn that it will not kill you, but just feels that way. It is an unpleasant experiance for sure.

  • Hi there

    no words of wisdom I'm afraid, but I can let you know I am going through the same thing. I'm 40 and have had 3 attacks of fast AF, the last 2 in the last month. It is quite a shock to find yourself vulnerable to quite a scary thing, and to come to terms with having to make lifestyle changes, and being aware that - although attacks are infrequent and relatively not that dangerous now, they are likely to get more frequent and more risky with time.

    I'm also waiting for various tests and consultants. I'll report back on this site with what they say. In the meantime I'm trying to get on with life, but it does preoccupy my thoughts somewhat. Last week I was working 2 days in Copenhagen and I was quite distracted wondering what I'd do if it came on again. I've got beta blockers to take if it happens again, but I've not taken one yet so I've no idea if they'll work or cause weird side effects. Not something I wanted to test in a foreign country.

    Please keep reporting what you find out from the experts too. It's good to hear other people's experiences.


  • Thanks to everyone's words of wisdom. I've not had a great day, I've done a lot of walking and a bit of cycling (only half an hour) and I've felt really out of breath and really light headed. This is where a fib plays you as I think I only have lone afib so not sure why I feel so lightheaded and feint! Thus club isn't fun ;) I find the most frustrating thing waiting to be referred. But everyone words have helped as I know that even if I am in a fib now (my pulse is its normal rate) it won't kill me :)

  • I see you live close to London. You have some of the best EPs in the country to choose from so are extremely well placed. Choose wisely. I travel from the north of England to London to see my EP. Under the patient choice option you can ask your GP to refer you to the medic of your choice even on the NHS. Things will improve once you are under the care of an excellent EP. Best wishes.

  • Hi Eddie, sorry to be tardy to the party. I too was in the same position as you, in mid 30s and a very scary few episodes of fast AF.

    I've so far had 2 RF ablations and 9 cardioversions. I won't bore you with the details but if you wish to ask me anything feel free, also click on my profile and looks back at some of my early experiences.

    Happy to help in any way I can

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