AF Association
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Newbie with AF

Hi everybody. I am really new to this so be gentle with me! I am 55 yrs and just been diagnosed with AF. I am waiting to have a heart scan before a see a Cardiologist. I had my first attack just under 3 weeks ago and it was just awful as it also led to a panic attack. I was given a beta blocker 2.5 mg Bisoprolol which helped. The episode went on for more or less 3 hours and it knocked me for nearly 2 days. In between that episode I have had 3 attacks lasting up 4-5 seconds. The doc today has put me on this medication permanently. Did anybody else suffer anxiety as I am. Just taking this tablet today has made me very anxious.

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Hello 6jane and welcome to the place you would rather not be! Firstly, we all have been where you are now to one degree or another so we do have an understanding of what you are probably going through now. Anxiety is a major problem with AF and it will probably remain with you for a while, but as your knowledge and understanding of AF increases, so will your confidence in dealing with it. Some important facts for you to take on board. There are well over 1m people in the UK who suffer with AF and around 250,000 who have it and don't know it. Say there are around 12,000 members on this forum, probably only 20% are regular active members, so it possible that there are many, many thousands of folk with AF who lead fairly normal lives. The other important fact is that as far as can be ascertained, no one has ever died from AF so try and put any such thoughts out of your mind. You probably know by now, the major risk associated with AF is having a stroke and hopefully you are aware of the need to take anticoagulants depending on your CHADsVasc score. If you need to know more about that please ask.

The good thing is that you appear to be pursuing a treatment plan with a cardiologist but you should be aware that it is an Electrophysiologist (EP - cardiologist who specialises in arrythmias) who is best placed to treat AF. Many people experience problems with their medication and it can take a while before things settle, but there are alternatives and you need to discuss this with your specialist.

At the moment you are scared, frightened and apprehensive about the future, all issues that we have faced too. Others will come up with suggestions to help you, but as I said earlier, there are so many that go on to lead relatively normal lives but the best thing you can probably do now is read up on all the information available on the AFA webpage using the search box top right of this page. I hope this helps you a bit.....but do not hesitate to ask us any questions that pop up. Please bear in mind that we are not medically trained therefore we do not discuss medication in any detail. Best wishes......

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Thank you for the quick response. I also have Fibromyalgia and peripheral neuropathy which attacks my feet so this on top has tipped me over a bit so to speak. Live on my own with two children aged 24(boy) and 15yr daughter. So I haven’t a partner there for me which is hard. Lack of sleep and a new medication has bought on this anxiety. Trying so hard to tell myself all will be okay and stop being silly. Does anyone know whether bisoprolol can cause anxiety as I had tablet at 1.30 pm today and I still feel anxious?

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As mentioned, I'm no medic, but I don't think Bisoprolol will, in itself bring about anxiety. Like most medication, if you read the list of side effects on Bisoprolol it will probably cause everything up to and including ingrowing toenails!!

However, it is likely to cause breathlessness, fatigue and could effect sleeping. I suspect, but don't know that the anxiety is coming from dealing with the unknown and what might be going on in your head. The fact that you do not have a partner to share issues and concerns with at this early stage probably doesn't help either. The most useful thing I did was to get involved with an AF support group where I met many kindred spirits and came to realise that there is life after AF.

I don't want to disappoint you, but I don't think taking Bisoprolol will improve anxiety. It's primary function as far as AF is concerned, is to reduce a rapid heartbeat and also reduce blood pressure........

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Thank you I think it’s a case of mind over matter and I’m trying so hard not to let the mind win! My mother who in her 70’s has AF too. She says she had the anxiety too first of all but has learned to cope with it. Time will tell I suppose. Had a terrible nights sleep last night which I think hasn’t helped.

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Welcome

I was going to respond to your post but quite frankly FlapJack has posted a very comprehensive reply that says it all in my opinion.

We have all suffered from anxiety when in AF and many of us continue so to do despite all the reassurances, unfortunately it comes with the territory.

I hope you get some good support from the EP Cardiologist.

Pete

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Thank you Pete :)

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Hi 6jane and sorry you are feeling so unwell. I was diagnosed a year ago and initially, found it a very scary experience. I was fortunate enough to find this wonderful group and also a local Arrythmia Alliance patient support group. I would also recommend seeing an EP asap. I wish I had done it sooner as that appointment made all the difference to my anxiety levels.

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I hope Jane is comforted by all the sensible response she has been given. Medications have such different effects on people, it takes a while and, confidence to work out what is the pill's effect and what is the " naturally scared"effect.. Some people just can't take Betablockers, there are alternatives , you have to write questions down before you see your specialist. Being for armed is SO helpful. Or, go with someone who will remember what is said in the appointment.

Does any one know of an Arrhythmia patient helpline in the Cambridge area?

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Hi, Welcome to this great community. I am covinced that myAF was triggered by my mental state (female, middle age, 2 kids, divorced, elderly parents, stressly job). I took AF as a warning sign of my body. My anxiety was ruining my life. I was on bisoprolol, also. Than, as I started a 10 -15 min of meditation during a day such headspace helped me a lot. I started walking and bit of yoga, too. You have to find time for yourself to start healing your body.

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Please don’t stress about this , it’s easy for us to say but we have all been where you are. I was originally put on bisoprolol 2.5 like you and beta blockers weren’t for me, resting heart rate went below 40, so we finally ended up on flecainide 50mg twice a day! I had my ablation in March last year and have been med free since nov 17! All the best , please try not to worry too much ! They will have to do tests before you could change your meds but don’t suffer in silence, if the meds make you feel rough tell someone !

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Thank you for your reply and a question what is ablation? So new to this as you can imagine.

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An ablation is where they enter your groin with catheters and isolate your pulmonary veins in your heart and any other areas to block the rogue signals that bring on Af attacks, it can either be done with extreme heat or cold! I had to have heat as my left atria was very slightly enlarged! This then does the job of your medication and in many cases way more than the meds! That’s obviously my version and you can look in to it way more deeply 🤣my ep was a young genius from the royal Brompton ! My ablation experience was amazing ( at the royal Brompton)I went under although in sinus Rhythm my heart was a bit bumpy , when I woke up it was solid as a rock! There is light at the end of the tunnel , you are at the start of the journey, it will become easier , I promise ! All the best!

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Thank you for clearing this up for me :0)

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I had quite a bit of anxiety when first diagnosed, and felt a bit...off... for first two weeks on beta blockers (1.25 mg daily for my arrhythmia, which is not AFib, but has some similarities). Hard to describe the early days on blockers, but I felt like was not getting quite enough oxygen throughout my body, though I could breathe just fine. I just felt.... physically anxious. For me, I settled inyo the beta blockers after a couple of weeks. And after about 2 months of feeling low level anxiety and overly watchful of every heartbeat, my general anxiety with the diagnosis faded, which is what I hoped would happen, with a bit of experience. (The beta blockers seem to work well for me, for now, though I know is that is not always the case.)

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Hi 6jane2 and another welcome to the forum. Please read a lot of the posts on here, they can be SO informative. None of us can advise you on medication, as we don't have your history or the necessary medical training (at least not very many of us), but other peoples experiences will certainly help you get to grips with all the variability and strangeness of this condition called A. Fib.

One thing I can tell you from my experience is, that after reading all I could on here and on the AF Association web site, when my second event occurred I was ready for it, and really quite relaxed about it. As I was away from home, camping in a remote farmer's field, and didn't want the complications of involving a strange hospital and A&E, I didn't even phone an ambulance. I just took three records of what was happening with my Kardia device (look it up if you like) and then went to bed in my caravan. I awoke during the night and realised that it had stopped. I booked in to see my doctor a week later, and got a referral to an EP at the nearest heart specialist centre.

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Hi jane! Just relax! Afib is just an uncomfortable nuisance. And bisoprolol is not too bad of a betablocker. I have taken some that made me feel lousy. I’ve had Afib for years, 20, and hundreds of episodes, some lasting as long as 72 hours. Have had two ablations, which unfortunately did not give much relief. The first one seemed to help for few months, the second didn’t. I have a pacemaker now, so I can take more medications, which I am not so crazy about. All this is helping me now, I still get episodes of Afib, but I don’t feel too poorly, so it is nice. With my episodes I just lay down with high pillows and relax and try taking deep breaths. Anxiety makes you feel worse. Good luck to you!

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I'm terrified of AF and indeed I suffer from anxiety. I've had it on and off for one and half years. I take Inderal 40mg 4 times a day and Flecainide 50 mg every ten hours. I was doing well on the Flec, but I had a break thru. I was on the phone with my Cardiologist in seconds. He told me take another 50mg. I did but it lasted for two more hours. I have been on Flec for three weeks and I thought I was doing well. Now I have lost my confidence again. He said we might up the dose to 100mg twice a day. But I hate the sside effects.

Sincerely,

Anna

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Hi

At 65, I’m new to all this too!

I have had health anxiety for as long as I can remember (everything is always terminal!) and have had panic attacks and palpitations on and off for 10+ years. The palpitations got worse a few months ago so I got checked out by a cardiologist who diagnosed PAF from a 24 hr monitor and put me on bisoprolol, rivaroxaban and atorvastatin. To say this all sent me into panic overdrive is an understatement!

For weeks I didn’t believe it as my pulse never, ever raced and I was never aware of having had an AFib episode but researching I discovered vagal AFib where it doesn’t race and is made worse by beta blockers. So I am now coming off the bisoprolol but my anxiety and nerves are all over the place.

I’m hoping this will all settle down as I get used to the idea that I’m not going to drop dead.

This really is a frightening complaint and I absolutely sympathise and understand your anxiety. The good thing is that generally the docs do seem to know what they’re doing so that’s reassuring. I just wish I had a pound for every time someone told me to relax and keep calm. Easier said than done!

I’m sure you’ll feel better when you’ve had your scan and have some proper facts to deal with. Good luck!

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Thank you for your kind words. Each day it’s getting easier but I don’t think I can settle properly until I have had a scan and seen a cardiologist. It’s just the wait as I want everything done yesterday......lol. I hate sitting around now in case it starts off another episode. I worry in case the beta blocker slows down my heart too much. I’m already on medication for high blood pressure and worry as the doc told me the beta blocker will also help with my blood pressure with bringing it down, that it will bring it down too low. It’s stupid I know as he said it will only help me. He also said if it helps bring my blood pressure down even more I will be able to stop one of my other tablets. The brain is a wondrous thing but also a pain when it comes to anxiety.

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