What exactly is this??: Hi all, Bit of... - AF Association

AF Association

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What exactly is this??


Hi all,

Bit of background; I have been diagnosed with PAF for just over a year, have only had two definite episodes and have Flecainide PIP as treatment. I am 28yrs old and have two small children aged 2 and 3.

Had a follow up with cardiology yesterday after a recent battery of tests (72hr holter, exercise stress test, echo). I have been having unexplained bouts of sinus tachycardia, up to 160bpm resting and all the associated side effects; dizziness, breathlessness, exhaustion and some chest pains.

The doctor asked me a few questions and then explained what he thinks it is. He says that once you have had an episode of AF, the connection between your heart and brain becomes slightly damaged (for want of a better word - this isn't verbatim) and so it becomes easier for the signals to get messed up. This affects both the adrenal system, causing fast heart rate etc., and the opposite system, which I can't for the life of me think of the name of! The one that allows up to calm down, rest and sleep etc., so can cause sudden drops in blood pressure, which I had at the end of my exercise stress test.

He says that with the adrenal system, you get these palpitations for some unknown reason, which cause your brain to send out adrenaline, which then causes more palpitations and it goes on in a vicious cycle. He says that it's 'common' in people with AF, that he sees it all the time and that I have three options; live with it, try to conquer it on my own through meditation, mindfulness and yoga, or take beta blockers which will in all likeliness cause side effects that will lead to more medication.

I don't just want to live with it. I don't think that mindfulness etc. will be entirely possible with my little boys around, but I'm going to try as a first port of call. I'm not keen to go on lifelong medication if not totally necessary.

The doc didn't tell me what this thing is called (assuming that it has a name at all), and I of course am keen to do my research and look for tips on how to manage it. Does anyone have any experience of this? Can you give the beast a name??

Thanks for reading. Best wishes,


7 Replies

Hello Nsnowden :-) I think you may be talking about the 'autonomic nervous system' and possibly vagally mediated AF . There is a lot about them on here including some excellent articles with diagrams if you do a search it box top right of the screen.


For all explanations about AF - what it is - what helps etc. Drugs etc. Also reading through the posts - you will learn a whole lot.

Please know there is no cure and it is a matter of managing the condition and treating it whilst in its infancy has MUCH better results. Many people can and do manage to change their lifestyle and have no more episodes as it is the No1 contributing factor.

Mindfulness can help you cope with the episodes but I don’t think your doctors explanation about brain/Heart connection very good. May I suggest you research Autonomic Dysfunction and it’s connection with arrythmias for a clearer understanding.

No-one know what causes AF but there are known links ie - poor vagal tone, lifestyle - no exercise and over exercise, diet, certain foods, chronic stress, poor nutrition and poor sleep.

There is a lot you can do to help yourself regarding lifestyle but there is a lot more to consider than just Mindfulness - although I am a HUGE fan.

Personally - I use an app called Calm - has a FB page for support as well.

Hidden in reply to CDreamer

My hubby listens to Calm also, I will download it and give it a go. I certainly dont want to b the only anxious one in the house!😂

Hi Nsnowden,

I go along with what CDreamer and Doodle68 say. I would suspect that there is some dysfunction with the vagal nerve, a nerve in the central nervous system which acts like an information superhighway between the brain and the heart and the digestive system. Suggest you Google vagal nerve and in particular Google a schematic diagram of the vagal nerve and you'll see how it is located within the body. Be interested to know if you have any digestive issues brought about food or drink.


Nsnowden in reply to carneuny

Thank you for this. Yes, I do suffer with digestive issues related to food. Upon looking into Autonomic/Vagal Dysfunction, it sound like what my cardiologist was getting at. It also seems to fit well with the symptoms I have been experiencing. I don't know if I should relent and just ask for the tablets as I feel I'll end up there eventually anyway. It's such a frustrating thing to live with! Standing up on the tube into work is terrible; the longer I stand, the worse I feel.

carneuny in reply to Nsnowden

There's lots of things I don't know from your post, but, based on my own experience I would go for medication and try and get a grip on things. Then I would consult a Nutritionist and see if you can get to the bottom of the digestive issues and start cutting out foods that your gut finds offensive. If you are in UK, go online and look up BANT see if there is a nutritionist near you. I went through this process and eventually won through.


Your cardiologist sounds OK to me. I would focus big time on lifestyle including diet and consider supplements Mg Taurate & CoQ10. Make an early appointment with an experienced London Naturopath.

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