What does an AF attack feel like to you? - AF Association

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What does an AF attack feel like to you?


I have been in NSR for a few weeks now, having previously spent 3 weeks in constant AF. During the time I have been in NSR, I have had 2 AF attacks whilst sat at my computer.

The first attack was really bizarre and scary. I was looking at my computer screen feeling completely normal, then out of nowhere, I went extremely light headed. Within a few seconds, I noticed my HR went really high, and I had a strong feeling of anxiety / adrenaline (fight or flight - type feeling). I can't remember whether the anxiety / adrenaline happened before or after I felt the HR go up. Within a few minutes, I was back down and feeling normal again, although was left extremely anxious, and my chest hurt.

The second AF attack, the anxiety definitely hit first (I could feel it in my hands particularly, like a high frequency tingling), then the HR went up. Again, within a few minutes, I was back down again, but the anxiety remained for the rest of the day, as did the chest pain.

I suppose the reason I am asking is that I am optimistically wondering if what I experienced could have been light-headedness from a big ectopic run, at which point my adrenaline kicked in, and so the heart went crazy, and perhaps, just perhaps, these weren't AF attacks (clutching at straws!)

Interested to hear other people's experience of AF attacks (and / or your opinion on mine).

Thank you again.

5 Replies

AF is an irregular HB, completely random, so unless it was irregular as well as fast it wasn't AF. People who have PAF sometimes experience a feeling of doom 😰, don't know how or why. It can be similar to a panic attack even though nothing has happened to panic you! As you had chest pain worth having a word with a professional.

LubDub in reply to Buffafly

To me the feeling of doom is my heart letting me know that this is something to take seriously so I need to lie down and rest my body!


I've had all sorts ranging from not being able to feel anything, but you could easily see it on a monitor. Also had a tiny twitching under my left armpit which was monitored as AF. And sometimes like a demented rabit trying to jump out of my chest and hitting his head on the roof (I think usually after alcolhol, so now teetotal). I've not had the elevated heart rates much, maybe a bit, but I have a fairly fast heart rate as standard.

I suppose the most common feeling for me, is just that the heart feels wobbly and uneven. Some people describe it as a bag of worms which is a reasonable description.

Since writing this post, I have realised my optimism was unfounded. I have gone back into constant AF and have just written a new thread on this.

In terms of answering my own question here, for the record, this latest AF has few symptoms other than I can feel the irregular heartbeat and see it on my ECG. Also, when I walk up stairs, my HR elevates to 160bpm. This time last year I was cycling over Col du Galibier with a lower HR!!!

Find a top cardiologist even if you have to drive to a different town as I did. Proper treatment can change your life! Best wishes

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