'Walking off' an AF episode: I'm interested... - AF Association

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'Walking off' an AF episode


I'm interested to hear about people's experiences of 'walking off' an AF episode. I've read about some instances where some people find it helps them to get back into SR, by walking or exercising. Does anyone have a particular method that they find reliable?

Also, does anyone know the science behind this process? Thanks :o)

13 Replies

Back along in the early days of my AF I used to think that if I were to exercise to the point where my heart rate would have been where it was (if you see what I mean) then when I cooled down it might return to normal. Occasionally it did but my doctor told me in no uncertain terms that this was a very stupid thing to do. I used to go balls out sawing and splitting logs, dashing around etc until I was nearly on the point of passing out.

I can't see a problem with some gentle strolls and the rhythm of walking may actually calm the soul but not keen on too much effort. Personal opinion only of course.

in reply to BobD

I've found that on several occasions, when I had a bad AF episode, the following day I've started walking outside and my heart rate has returned to normal after about ten minutes. Initially I would feel terrible, the usual breathless/angina symptoms, then complete relief when back in SR. It happened by chance initially, when I had to walk somewhere for an appointment. I thought it was a coincidence but have since read about a few other similar experiences.

I always had someone with me, I wouldn't try walking outside by myself when in AF and feeling awful.

On Sunday evening, we were at the World Athletics and I started with AF. I had to walk briskly back to the train station and it went away, but returned quite severely the following morning.

I wonder if any scientific research has been done on this process...

On my first couple of AFs I ignored them overnight and then, not really knowing what was going on, walked myself to A&E in the morning. On both occasions I self-cardioverted shortly after arriving at the hospital. I don't know if the AF would have ended at a similar time if I'd stayed at home, or if the walk helped.

During the early days of AF I found that resting made the feelings worse and that doing something took my mind off the vibrations inside and many times when I had finished, say washing the car or a country walk my AF had gone. But due to the unpredictability of this condition later there were other times after starting the same activities without AF when finished I was in AF! Perhaps the condition had progressed by then.

I'm silent affibber, therefore I have a personal ECG to follow wether I have actually afib or not. Typically I have 8-10 afib events per month. First my aFib was found by chance about 2 years ago, so I have great statics on myself. Approx. about 80% percent of may afibs is terminated by phisical activity. In the simplest case bay morning gym, or climbing up in the stair case. When it not helps road biking is the next trick which can terminate my afib. Being MD and physiologist I have researched the literature. Two similar case study is published with similar experience. Moreover I'm visiting other patients forums as well. On forums far more patient experience supports the self conversion by exercise.

BUT !!! Kep in mind, that we are also different. Some affiber fellows has the opposite problem. Physical activity may trigger their afib.

All the best:


Yes, a big problem with forming a coherent theory, seems to be that AF can be stopped AND started by exercise! I have triggered episodes with sudden running when it started to rain heavily, and also with lifting heavy objects. So even in the same person, exercise can work both ways.

Mercurius - do you have any links to the research please?

Personally never for me. Always on and off during rest position watching tv in a recliner, and I am often exercising. No easy answer it seems. Wish it were so.

Well yesterday afternoon I went into fast AF. Decided to test the exercise theory, but as I was on my own, didn't want to risk walking outside - so I trotted around the house. After five minutes of jogging around and feeling pretty bad, slowed to a fast walk and carried on for another ten minutes. Gradually slowed to an amble then sat down - the heart was back in sinus rhythm! Had a few missed beats overnight but feeling good today :o)

Will try this jogging method over the next few weeks, each time I go into AF. Would be very interested to hear from anyone else who feels able to give it a go. Although, I do think its more sensible to only try it when you've got someone with you!

Oh well done Wendy :-) I am pleased it worked for you.

During AF episodes a couple of them quite bad I have had to take the dog out walking in the fields having trained her not to use the garden so I had no choice . The worry of collapsing in the field because of being short of breath/shaking made me very anxious. I took my phone with me.

This happened on a number of occasions, the walking certainly didn't make things worse and I felt better for the fresh air but the AF continued for some hours.

Now I am on medication I will not be so scared of walking during episodes if my legs are working :-)

The AF returned yesterday afternoon. I tried two separate attempts at self-converting with the jogging/walking method - but to no avail, sat up all night feeling lousy and still in AF today. Hey-ho!

in reply to WendyWu20

Wendy, have you no other means of dealing with AF like a dose of flecainide?

I'm assuming you have an EP as I think you have ablation in the pipeline.

I can quite often encourage my heart to settle by walking. I don't even consider jogging.

in reply to Rellim296

I only jog slowly for a couple of minutes, then walk.

I have enquired about flecainide as a PIP, but GP and other docs have all brushed off the idea without giving me a reason, and I've always felt too ill at the time of seeing them to pursue it further. Maybe its because I'm asthmatic... I'm seeing a new cardio doc in two weeks (I've moved house), I'll ask again then.

in reply to WendyWu20

I use flecainide less than I used to but it is nice to feel you have something that can be taken if needed.

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