The shock of developing AF

As a regular gym user and healthy eater with a naturally low cholesterol level my sudden development of AF has been a shock. I am a 71 year old man who likes to keep active but in less than a week have become breathless with relatively little exercise. My GP has provided very little information and although I have been referred to the Atrial Fibrillation Service I have no idea how long I will have to wait for an appointment.

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Please feel free to visit our website afa.org.uk you will find an expanse of information on living with AF and the treatment options available. You will also find patient stories from people in a similar situation to you. This forum is wonderful, and I regularly signpost new contacts here. If you have any specific questions, you can contact us at info@afa.org.uk or 01789 867502.

Best wishes, Rachel - Patient Services Associate - AF Association.

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If you're in the UK you could ask for a private referral and pay about £150-250 for a consultation. That's what I did, no way was I going to wait months to see someone. Best £200 I've ever spent in my life.

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I agree, a private referral to an EP (electrophysiologist) would be money well spent and speed up your management.

Make sure you have basic tests of ecg and bloods done by your GP to save time and money.

If you are in persistent AF you may need a cardioversion (electric shock treatment) which may put you back into your healthy rhythm, but meantime should be started on an anticoagulant for stroke prevention.

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I also had a private referral to an EP just make sure you find the best in your area.

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From fitness to AF is a shock for healthy regular exercisers as I found out. The process of getting something done was a little slow in my case which I found frustrating because all the time my exercise and training was curtailed. However, now having had a procedure and medication that seems to be broadly successful I am now rebuilding my training little by little, no rushing back too soon.

I have written before about the psycological knock that I took when I wasnt able to "compete" at the same level as before questioning my ability. I have reworked my goals and done a heap of research (that is my way) and although work in progress and beginning to get fit (by my measurement) again. Short achievable goals appear to be my saviour.

Good luck with the full diagnosis and treatment which can come in many forms to suit the individual.

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Kelton42 It does come as a shock. I was similar to you, fit, active gym goer etc - except I was 55! I have to agree with the others, pay to get a private assessment with an EP. And wrong as it may be, you'll probably get moved to somewhere near the top of his/her NHS list for appropriate treatment. The sooner you are back in sinus rhythm the better.

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I paid to see an EP and that's what he did, my first consultation was as a private patient then he transferred me back onto the NHS. At least it gets the process started quicker! My appointment was £200 and well worth it in my opinion.

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Hi Kelton :-) you say...

'''My GP has provided very little information and although I have been referred to the Atrial Fibrillation Service ''

My GP provided no information and having approached her with symptoms I had a 6 month wait to attend an arrhythmia clinic and to finally get a diagnosis of PAF.

I was shocked to find out that while awaiting diagnosed and experiencing increasingly severe episodes I had an increased risk of having a stroke. I assumed I couldn't have anything that required urgent attention or I would have been seen earlier.

Had I known when I first approached my GP what I know now I would have had a private one off consultation with an Electrophysiologist.

You have at least had a diagnosis but in your position I wouldn't want to wait around very long to discuss treatment.

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Hi and welcome to the forum. I can empathise with the shock of AF when you are a cardio gym bunny. I agree about the need to see an EP, but it depends on who you see. On the NHS I could only see the EP's specialist nurse. He wouldn't see me when I developed a rare life-threatening reaction to a drug that he had prescribed and, he didn't follow the hand-over procedure from secondary to primary care for that drug. He eventually saw me under pressure from my GP and, he knew that a cardiologist was submitting a paper on my reaction to the drug. He assessed me at age 68 with a CHADVASC score of 1 as not needing to take an anticoagulant. Eighteen months later with a biological age 15 years younger than my true age, I had a full stroke that has left me partially sighted.

The positive side is that I had a wonderful Consultant Neurologist - dare I say an EU National - who has supported and advised me. I'm a regular at a Pilates class and, I row 2 to 5km a day on a Concept 2 rowing machine.

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