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AF Association
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Anxiety and af

Hi all not been on for a couple of days as I've just needed to take some time and get my head around it all.. first up thanks to every one who posted on my last post and for all the help and support.. being a very anxious person I have been struggling with anxiety pretty bad over the last week.. I have been to the doctors twice since and what I am struggling with is the fact that I don't seem to be know much about it all if that makes sense!! No one seem overly worried about my condition. I have been given nobivolol to take when the next attack happens but no 24hr medication.. (I'm guessing this is a good thing) basically to cut a king story short I've had two attack I go to hospital they give me flecanlide after approx 2 hours my heart goes back into a normal rythem they monitor me for a bit after. the cardiologist looks at my ecg's says everything is ok and off I go home!!! In the mean time I feel fine to get up and go out and do things with no symptoms in between the attacks just come out of nowhere and are quite extreme.. but it's the nights that I am struggling with the most I will be in bed dosing off and just as I go into a deep sleep I wake up thinking I'm about to have another attack check my pulse and all is normal I go back to sleep and the same every hour or 2 till it is time to get up I also get aching pains in my chest nothing serious but it just bothers me as I'm paranoid i am going to go to sleep and never wake up leaving my 2 young children without a dad!! (Bit extreme I know but that's me) is this all to do with the anxiety side... like I say I am one of those people who like to know but the more I read the more I'm convince I am going to die.. sorry for the long post but it is very stressful

Thanks ben

13 Replies

I know a diagnosis of AF feels like the end of the world or of your life. One of the things a cardiologist said to me was "Nobody dies from AF - it might feel like you will but you won't". I think that statement could be argued with but, in essence, it is correct. If you have a bout of AF, it can be managed, it won't kill you.

It isn't easy but try to relax and don't worry - you might find something like meditation or mindfulness helps. I'm afraid anxiety and sleep deprivation can only make your AF worse.


Hi Ben - it is really important to actively do something to eliviate your anxiety. Unfortunately AF and anxiety are bed fellows and there are 2 types - the physical which is a direct symptom of the heart's electrics going wonky and then the worrying. The worrying is usually much easier to address and CBT is excellent as a strategy to combat this - but you need to practice it.

Breathing exercises help as do Yoga, Mindfulness, Exercise, Relaxation or Tapping (EFT). You need to engage in one of this type of activities or you will drive yourself mad with the anxiety.

Believe me when I say nearly every one of us has been where you are now, my first episode was over 10 years ago and after the initial shock, I learned that unless you continue living, you start dying so yes you need to adapt some activities but you also need to live. I didn't need to check my pulse all the time because when AF strikes I knew about it - we AF'ers become very conscious of our own heartbeat whereas most people are never aware of it. However, it is worth checking your pulse to know your heart rate when you do feel the Arrythmia kick in as it's not a good idea to stay in a fast heart rate for too long.

Sleep can be a problem - I use Yoga Nidra exercise just before bed and if my heart kicked off anyway, which it often did at night, I listened to audio books as a distraction and always drifted off.

Have you been tested for Sleep Apnea - I was advised by my EP to have a sleep test and prescribed CPAP and that is the one single thing that has improved my QOL overall because nowadays I mostly have good quality sleep.

Best wishes CD.


Sound advice cdreamer. There is a strong link between sleep apnea and A Fib. Even with out true sleep apnea many of us can link poor sleep to bouts of A fib.

I use Yoga and audio books dkwnloaded onto my ipad from Audible. I just plug in my ear phones and wake up sevaral hours later, 10 chapters into the book. There is a sleep function to limit the time to 30 minutes or however long your mind takes to settle.


Ben I know it is difficult but my EP told me three things to remember about AF 1) it isn't fatal. 2) it won't kill you, and 3) Nobody dies from AF.

For many years during my AF journey I have tried to get more help for people on the anxiety side as the two are self perpetuating in some people. You have AF so you worry. The stress increase the AF so you worry more and so on ad nauseum. Try to get some help for the anxiety either CBT or mindfullness which many people find useful. Yoga may also be suitable.

Most of us have been where you are and in my case it started years before AF Association began when there was no forum, little information of any kind and largely unhelpful doctors. Ablation was just beginning to be more common place and at least there were a few specialists in arrhythmia who I was lucky enough to find or be directed to. As mentioned before, learn all you can from AF Association fact sheets and booklets as knowledge is the power to dispel fear.


It is interesting that EPs advise that AF won't kill you when they mean it won't once it is diagnosed. Unfortunately it is often diagnosed post AF related stroke. I really think more should be done to raise awareness of the condition to reduce the stroke risk.


Having had an A/F induced stroke I have to agree with this and I had been diagnosed however I was not put on to Warfarin and this was the result

1 like

Hi Ben. I have spent a long time being anxious and for an equally long time on medication to 'control' it. However i have weened myself off the drugs purely because i didnt want to spend the rest of my life taking them. For me it was a matter of convincing my self that anxiety was all that it was and that all of the sensations and symptoms were not physical, purely of the mind.

Although Afib is physical (electrical) and does very much trigger anxiety i have adopted the same approach. I have had all of the tests to confirm the clinicians diagnosis and in that process it has been established that physically my heart is sound and there are no underlying problems. So, perhaps easy for me to say but with the knowledge that i have Afib and not any other heart condition i can convince myself that there is nothing to worry about as long as i maintain the drugs routine and my symptoms remain constant.

There is some very good advice on this site from fellow sufferers and i would say that somewhere in the advice that is offered is the major approach that will help you being able to conquer your fears of your condition and worry less and reduce the anxiety.


Hi Ben

I really empathise with you.... When I was first diagnosed I was in a terrible state and was utterly convinced I would die and that despite all my efforts to be healthy my body had conspired against me. Previously to that I had just been told that genetically I was in a high risk category for a heart attack as my Dad and his Dad died at 40. After nearing hysteria I had to really take a long hard look at the situation and tell myself that if AF was not a killer I would worry myself to death anyway if I carried on as I was doing, I am not saying it is easy to change a mindset but the mind is very very powerful and I am living on mind over matter. Positivity is the way forward so if you cannot do this without help then please please see someone who can help CBT for example.

Although I feel very positive, I still do check my HR often and am hoping I won't feel the need to do this soon.

There will be blips, I cried for a couple of days after my ablation on reading others experiences on this site of having had numerous ablations...not what I expected, but I was supported through it by kind comments and informative ones. This is a lovely community of people trying to help others.

I wish you every luck on your journey........seek support, remind yourself you will be okay :-)



Getting the right knowledge about A/F is the best way to deal with your anxieties and being better informed gives you the ability to discuss it with your GP and specialists in this field. We are all anxious with A/F and that in itself is part of the problem because it will exacerbate the condition even further. I have posted this information several times as I feel that it covers the topic well explaining and outlining what we need and want to know so I hope it helps you too. guysandstthomas.nhs.uk/our-...


I understand because I feel the same way. I almost can trigger my own heavy palpitations just by thinking that it hasn't happened for a while (an hour or two - ) - because death is almost always in my mind. I think anxiety is playing a big part in how I am feeling. I just don't know what came first, the palpitations or the anxiety. Good luck to you.


I suppose each of us handles anxiety in a different way. My route out is knowledge. That is the reason I bought the Kardia device for my smart phone. I rarely use it now, but it can reassure me when I'm wondering if my rate has increased, or if my beat seems irregular. I have also managed to catch and keep recordings of my most recent AF attack, and I'm waiting to show them to my GP when I ask for a referral to an EP.

Meditation, reading, movies, all might help others. For me it's knowing what's going on.


Hi Ben

At the beginning I was incredibly anxious about my AF episodes and felt like I was about to die any moment. But I've found that taking action has helped enormously and now, a couple of months later, I feel calm, sorted and able to manage it. Some things I've done:

1) Get a GP referral to a cardiologist and have an initial £200 private consultation within a week with the cardio to get investigations and treatment started

2) Get a Kardia app on my mobile (cost £90+), at the cardio's suggestion, so I could monitor my heart rate and rhythm and email anything unusual to him (this was because there were no ECGs of a PAF episode)

3) Have an Echo and CTCA to check whether there are any other heart problems. Had both on the NSH, but booked by the cardio after my private appointment. Calling the NHS booking office for cancellations can speed up these tests. Had a follow up £150 private appointment with cardio for test results (all good!) and treatment discussion.

4) Start on anticoagulation to address the stroke risk from AF

5) Get pills in pocket for AF episodes and instructions from cardio on when to dial 999

6) Go online and research all the huge amount of information available on AF, to be informed on the different aspects of AF - using both medical sites and patient forums

7) Look at my AF triggers e.g. stress, exertion, heat, and do what I can to minimise them

8) Get referral from cardio to EP for NHS ablation - long wait and probably not needed, but want to be in the queue in case the AF gets much worse and ablation is the way to go

I've found taking action to be very empowering. The whole thing, including the Kardia, has cost me £440, but I don't need any further appointments, my anxiety has subsided and I feel that for me, it was well worth it.

Wishing you all the best



Afib is not, to my knowledge, much of a threat until it lasts around 24 hours. And someone correct me if I am wrong, but the threat is clots, not heart attack or such. I have had many 2-8 hour episodes and several 2 day episodes and it is distressing and scary but after some time you sort of learn to live with it. I do not look forward to my next episode but have come to the conclusion I will survive it. I hope you get there soon!


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