AF Association
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Worried about holiday

Hi. I haven’t been on here for a while but needed someone to talk to. I was diagnosed with parasoymal af / svt in 2013 and was put on bisoprolol 2.5mg once a day. I’m still on the same medication and dose. Took a while to get used to the medication as was suffering with slight shortness of breath. Have had lung function test but all tests were clear and was told it was anxiety and told not to think about breathing (easier said than done). I am going on holiday to new York for 4 days in June and am really worried about the flight. I’m worried my SOB will be worse and I will get a panic attack and my af will trouble me when I’m on holiday. I have insurance and have told them all my pre conditions. Don’t know what to do. No one understands my worries. I’m not on blood thinners as my fa is come and go and my consultant (I’ve asked for two second opinions as well) said at this stage I don’t need them. Also suffering my ocular migraines as well. Dr has diagnosed me with depression as I’m crying all the time and worrying (though I was start the menopause but apparently not). I’m so worried and cannot cancel my holiday and don’t want to let me friend down. Please help.

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Hi MIllie

I understand, and of course you understand that your anxiety often triggers AF, and that you may be worried about this.

There is nothing inherently about flying which usually triggers AF or is likely to give you any problems, except of course your anxiety.

However I fly a lot with AF and all I can say is that although none of us like travelling too much, arriving is fantastic. Focus on the arrival and you will be fine.

Be well

Ian

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Thank you Ian. I know my anxiety is not helping and have been offered counselling. I really want to go as New York has been the one place I’ve always wanted to go. Really appreciate your kind words of wisdom.

I just need to focus on the good and not the bad.

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healthunlocked.com/afassoci...

It is a very common symptom. Just to reiterate Ian’s assurance - flying will not make your AF worse - sometimes it can even help - but your anxiety WILL exacerbate your AF. Please find a strategy to help - Counselling is not required but I would suggest you read the notes I put up a month or so ago - link above.

You may also find this helpful

hgi.org.uk/useful-informati...

All anxiety relieving practice start with the breath so deliberately slowing the breathing to 6-7 breaths a minute is the best solution to SOB without physical cause. Relearning how to breath really will help.

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Hello Millie....it's clear that you are in a bit of a tiz about travelling, but you need to bear in mind over 1 million people in the UK have AF and a large number of them do not let it stop them from travelling by land, sea or air. I know a number of people (me included) who fly and they just take it in their stride and Beancounters reply kinda sums it up. If the insurance companies are prepared to provide cover to the USA then the risks are there, but maybe not that great. It's not quite true that no one understands your worrys, but it is true that if you cannot find a way to overcome them, then you would be unwise to make the journey and that would be very sad, because it really should not be a problem. There are a number of things you could do that will help.

Prepare a checklist of all the things you need, such as money, passport, ESTA etc and be clear about where you are going when you land and how you are going to get there.

Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, get through passport control, security and arrive at the departure lounge nice and relaxed. Take plenty of water (buy that airside!!!) to keep hydrated and keep mobile on the plane and avoid any alcohol. Spend time with your friend preparing for the journey and make it part of the adventure.

Nearly all the issues you raise are problems which are sitting in your head and are probably not problems which effect you from a day to day normally, so do all the preparation and planning with your friend and literally, focus on all the nice things you can do while you are there and make sure you spend some time in Central Park!!......

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Hello Millie. ..I fully understand how you feel. Could you ask your GP for a small dose of Diazepam to cope with the flight ? I had this for the first time before undergoing some dreaded dental treatment recently and it worked a treat. You will need to get your friend to distract you on the flight so that your thoughts are not preoccupied with panic attacks.

Ian has given you good advice. Concentrate on the arrival and not the journey.

Sandra

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Hi Millie

Everyone has given good advice and Ian flies the world in AF!

Don't forget they have oxygen on aircraft should you need it.

I had AF on holiday recently and just sat it out and it stopped- you shouldn't get a high heart rate as you are on a beta blocker so really all should be manageable even if you have some AF- and then you have sensibly got insured for it so really you have covered all eventualities- now just enjoy New York. I always feel very upbeat after a visit to the states so it will do you a lot of good.

We are all here if you need any advice!!

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Good morning Millie. Just how bad is your AF when you have an attack and how often to you generally get them? Does it leave you worn out for days afterwards, or are you quickly back to normal? We all have different degrees as to how it affects us.

Jean

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Hi Millie,

Lots of great advice for you from the other posters to which I would add two things. Fear of flying is really common, when I first started flying a lot for business, I used to focus on the Air Stewards and tell myself that they spend half their lives in the air and if they are calm there's no reason for a part time flier like me to be nervous. I also suffer from parasoymal af and anxiety/depression. There are lots of good non medical ways to lessen anxiety but I have to say that the Fluoxetine pill I take every day makes the World a more relaxing place to be. If your doctor prescribes Anti Depressants (AD), give them a go, as with every drug, you need to find the one that suits your body so you may have to try a few. When I have come off my AD meds, my AF gets worse as I worry more so they can help for sure.

Pete

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I go one further Pete....I work on the basis that the pilot don't wanna die either!!!....worked for me the first time I flew.....

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Good point Flapjack. And a final one from me, New York is one of the Worlds great cities, it will be a wonderful, uplifting holiday.

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I am planning my first ever trip to the US for the wedding of my godson. I feel like you do. I have audio books on my phone and MP3 player which distracts me a lot. I plan to have lots to do on the plane like treating myself to magazines and books. If you have a smart phone or tablet, load it with games and maybe tv programmes and films. Take some of your favourite sweets and snacks. With breathing exercises, I find counting in and out helps but I do counting backwards which means you have to concentrat more. Do let us know how you get on and pass any tips on. Have a great holiday.

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Hi Millie..Understand your concerns being a long flight..my Af has followed a similar path to yours and Ive had as long as 12 years in between attacks.I take Apixaban now and am reassured that even if I go out of sinus rhythm I wont have a stroke.My problem is that my heart rate goes up to 140 but quite frankly even tho I was admitted two years ago..they didnt do anything apart from put me on digoxin with my sotalol which after 12 hours slowed it all down.I weaned myself off that tho fairly quickly.So to give yourself confidence I would ask for a blood thinner..and if your rate stays low..dont worry at all.My hubbys is out all of the time and he cycles 150 miles a week.We're both early 70s..and remember..AF is NOT life threatening..it will not kill you!!!xxxx

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Well hello Millie , you sound like a mirror version of myself. I to have a 7 day holiday booked in April and had my ablation procedure 6 months ago and am still petrified of something happening to me 😩 my anxiety is horrible but I have not had a holiday in 6 years so I am pushing myself to do this for the husband as he has put up with me over the years. Anxiety and are conditions go hand in hand . I also had worse anxiety and symptoms before I started on estrogen replacement I was 40 at the time and all tests came back normal as they do 🙄 but once on the treatment it made I huge difference in my depression and anxiety. I have been off antidepressants for nearly 5 years now 👍🏼 you are bound to feel nervous about it and I hope I can help you get through it with myself and my fear . I also am terrified of flying so I have just jumped in head first and am grabbing this by the balls , pardon my words . I to had PAF and SVT , I am here any time if you want a chat ❤️

Best wishes

Sam xx

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I echo a lot of what you both say ... I’m very nervous of travelling and especially flying. My lovely,, long-suffering husband (whose 40th birthday I wrecked with medical stuff) has special holiday booked in April-may, I can’t let him down again. But knowing my PAF events have always averaged 180 bpm, I’m extra nervous.

But we will manage it! And it will be a good time :) Hearing everyone’s encouragement and travelling experiences is a great boost. Sending love and prayers and positive vibes to you both 💖

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Aww Jane , I feel you hun were are you going if you don’t mind me asking? It’s exactly the same for me 😩 me poor husband wouldn’t be bothered about me backing out once again but I just can’t let him or my family down as they have arranged it for us . I have a 9 hour flight and a foreign country to try and cope with. I just keep thinking go on girl you can do it lol 😂 meanwhile I am like a nervous wreck underneath 😐 aww yes we can do it keep in touch and what date you going ? I am going end of April x

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Millie why not build up your confidence by having a quick holiday just to test the water. There are many cheap flights available and you could perhaps even a have a day trip somewhere. The more you do, the more you find you can do and the less of a hurdle your holiday in New York will seem.

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Hi Millie. As everyone says do try and focus on the wonderful time you are going to have in New York and try to find some sort of strategy to control the anxiety- lots of people posting lots of practical advice here! For me, meditation has helped me deal with my own panic and anxiety attacks. If it helps at all I also have PAF and I am currently traveling around Sri Lanka— long haul flight was no problem but make sure you drink plenty of water and don’t get dehydrated And last year i flew to Portugal all the while in the middle of an AF episode- I just did my relaxation and rode it out.. it eased on arrival. I try very hard to not let the AF dictate my life but I do sympathise as I know it isn’t easy to control the anxiety that comes with AF. I really hope you will soon be posting from NYC!!!

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