Experiences with Atrial Fibrillation - AF Association

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Experiences with Atrial Fibrillation

Paulalexander
Paulalexander

Hi,

I am interested to hear of people's experiences such as age you first noticed AF and if heavy exercise, dehydration and alcohol contribute to symptoms.

Another thing I am interested in is if your AF is usually starting whilst you sleep and if you have other sleep related issues.

My first onset was at age 28, it stopped itself in a few hours. My second was again on waking 2 years later and went away within an hour or two. The 3rd onset was in 2012 after I had been on a stag do the week before I was 33 at that point. That didn't stop after a few hours and I had to to hospital to be treated with fleccanide. I had all the usual tests etc and since had nothing for 6 years. Until last night. I woke up and had AF with high heart rate of 160bpm. My resting heart rate is usually below 50. I did contemplate driving to A and E but decided to drink half a litre of water and try to sleep.

I woke and it had stopped but after a few hours googling I am worrying that as I get into my 40's it is going to become a more common occurrence.

I am now at 4 episodes of AF in 11 years plus the odd fluttering that never actually develops.

If you have any experiences you would share I'd very much appreciate hearing it.

Paul

60 Replies
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BobD
BobDVolunteer

Hi Paul first advice is to go to AF Association main website and read all the fact sheets about AF . Yes binge drinking. stress.dehydration inflammation etc as well as a low natural resting heart rate can all contribute to AF setting in but the truth is that you need a pre-disposition first. This can be genetic or it could be acquired. Endurance athletes and fighter pilots are all prime candidates to acquire AF due to the excessive work their hearts have to do. This causes the atrium to enlarge and stretch the natural pathways which can allow extra areas to form and create the chaos.

WE are all different and it really is a mongrel condition but I think you hit most triggers!

Hi Paul and welcome to the forum. A few weeks ago a member of this forum asked a similar question here is the link:

healthunlocked.com/afassoci...

Jean

Thanks Jean I actually replied to that post after posting my own as it was interesting to read that a lot of people don't experience AF until they are quite old.

Glad to hear the link was useful.

I've been on this forum for quite a few years and we seem to be hearing a lot more from younger people with AF now. Another fact I've noticed is a lot of them are often involved with high endurance sports, running, cycling etc. I did a lot of those in my 30's and 40's and thinking back wonder if that's what started my AF off. I believe it's become a known trigger lately.

Have you been involved in high endurance sports?

Jean

Or do we older people not realise we have AF until we have a really bad attack? My first bad one was when I was about 54. In my younger days (30 and 40's) I was always last when doing cross country running, or cycling and could never understand why, as I did as much sport as everyone else, but tired quickly. Now with swimming I could be first! Just makes me wonder.

You know my heart would always bang in my chest on exertion and I thought everyone's did that. It wasn't until after my first ablation that it went and I realised it had been abnormal.

Jean

I did cross country too when at school and after that skateboarding until 22.

I then started training muay Thai and Brazilian jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts and have been into weight lifting since my early 20''s.

I am still training and competing I'm jiu jitsu, none of these are explicitly endurance sports but are ll extremely cardio intensive.

Interesting Paul! I wonder if there's anyone on the forum with AF who hasn't been sporty or had a strenuous job e.g. builder or anyone who had to lift heavy things. I would like to know if anyone who has led a really sedentary life has AF? Will be interesting when everyone starts responding later.

Jean

Hylda
Hylda in reply to jeanjeannie50

Well here’s me, never been sporty, great-grandmother, worked until 63 years old but nothing really strenuous. Convinced my AF arrived via an under active thyroid

I am a couch potato but I wonder if that is partly because I have never had much energy. I lived with undiagnosed asthma for about 40 years so that didn't help! I think (purely my own mad idea!) that my arrhythmia started with measles which I had very badly when I was about 12, after which I began to notice ectopics. My mother brushed it off, which was her standard response, and I don't think I ever bothered to mention my 'funny turns' when I felt as if I was going to black out! So I agree that we oldies have probably had some episodes of arrhythmia long before diagnosis. My diagnosis happened via a virus which caused a pericardial effusion.

Sorry to come in so late. Interesting discussion. Mine started in my early 50s and just as you described Jean, with first 3 episodes years apart. It was very obvious to me when this happened, couldn’t miss it!

Wouldn’t say I was very sporty or loved sport, but games teachers and sport loved me ... I was fast! Ran for my school at county level, always won the hurdles, long jump - short and sharp, couldn’t hack cross-country, never had the stamina. Favourite exercise after that was an occasional game of tennis and moderate walks in the countryside. I have an aversion to gyms!

My AF episodes only last a matter of minutes as I’ve learned a few tricks to stop them, frequency seems to depend on self-indulgences ... hope it lasts!

I’ve recently learnt from my mother that my grandmother had AF which settled when she lay down. Doctor told her not to worry, that it wouldn’t affect her life-span. She lived to 88.

I would love to know a trick that works to stop it?

Well Paul, favourite recently has been to breathe in as far as I can, then a little bit further, like Winnie the Pooh opening a jar of honey!! I do this while lying on my left side if possible. Sometimes my husband massages my carotid sinus (not recommended if you don’t know what you’re doing, and not very successful anyway). Other tricks have just been different positions and timed deep breathing. Of course, one person’s tricks might not work for others.

BUT ... I spoke too soon yesterday! Last night I couldn’t stop it for 15 minutes. It’d stop then start again as soon as I breathed normally. I know that most people’s episodes last a lot longer but I seem to get them more frequently, like most days, although I can go a month between episodes. I was very silly yesterday evening ... had had two G&Ts. Allowed myself one glass of red up until then as I’m on holiday ... well, I had to find out didn’t I?!!

Sorry you have this to cope with while you have a young family but fingers crossed they’ll find a cure one day - there’s a Nobel prize there for someone - we live in hope!

Definitely and I will give what youve suggested a try in the future (hopefully the distant future!)

I had read that running up the stairs could stop it but this didnt work for me! I do try breathing slowly but it didnt stop it, I drank some cold water and then decided to try and go back to sleep, which wasnt easy but when I woke it had gone this time thankfully as I really didnt want to go to hospital. I have no idea how people can just live with AF and not even notice.. when its happened to me its all I can think about, every heartbeat suddenly becomes noticeable and when I take my pulse I can feel it is completely out of time.

A HR monitor shows the pulse as being extremely high although I dont have the hammering feeling I get when doing hard exercise, I think because it is a normal beat or 2 followed by a few much smaller faster beats. There is no way I could not notice it though!

Yes, it’s a strange feeling. My episodes start erratically and make me cough. If I feel my pulse I notice skipped beats followed by a sort of catch-up. Then a crazy rhythm followed by a steady fast beat - flutter. I feel terrible ... have tried to notice the feelings I get so I can describe them later but it’s beyond description. Nearest I can get to it is light-headed, sore neck and head, just weird.

What are the tricks you've learn't to stop AF Hilly? If you don't mind me asking.

Jean

Hi Jean, I’ve only just seen this ... struggling with a WiFi signal.

Just replied to Paul ... best solution at the moment is to take a very deep breath until it feels as if my lungs will burst, and then let it out very slowly and repeat if necessary. Not sure how long this is going to work though x

Hi Jean, go on youtube and search Vagal maneuvers. These effect your Vagal Nerve and slow down your heart, When it is speeding it may and may not work. There are several. Just the slow breathing is calming.

Hidden
Hidden in reply to jeanjeannie50

I was never involved in sports as an adult,,,,just a dog walker for my pets and a gardener to keep some activity level,,,I believe my afib appearance at age 69 was due to mental and emotional stress as my first attack came on a difficult day of worry and stress over my son who is a drug user,,,,a constant source of issues over the past 25 years,,,I also had anxiety attacks since 2003 off and on,,,,,I think this is also related to having afib,,,,,and another clue might be that out of 11 cousins in my family,3 of us so far have developed afib,,,

Sedentary not me. Always been very physically active: runner, SCUBA diver, bush walker, back packer, swimmer, rock climber, wind surfer.... the docs tell me that highly athletic people are more inclined to have 'prolongations' in the ECG, but these can also be caused by anti-arrhythmic drugs, so I have both of those going on. Not sure of the connection between prolongations and AF though.

Me! Hate sport except swimming.Like walking in woods,beach etc but never had a lot of stamina.Telephonist for long time,then mum,then trained as teacher.Officially diagnosed at age 53.,Mum and Grandma had it....

Hidden
Hidden in reply to jeanjeannie50

Morning Jean and Paula,

Just woken up beautiful day and reached for me phone...

Jean your reply has sent me along a journey down memory lane ...

Similarities here being very sporty up to 50's ....Up to mid 25 could outrun anyone - but always from a child had slight tightness after running across top of chest when breathing in...

At 26 was training to be PE instructed and living in London part of training was early morning runs across Hamstead Heath I kept up with the others but only just but was in terrible pain afterwards and ache in chest ...The instructor explained it was because l was tall and slim that l was experiencing this and didn't have same muscle density...

Throughout life was gym member lifting weights and swimming 35 lenghts 3 times weekly think nothing of walking 8 miles a day but like yourself tired and exhausted after - thinking it was normal...

I do have fibro as well but looking back l now associate this chest ache with AF and not the fibro..

Of course when your young you are not aware of these things and just think everyone else is same..

Probably same as yourself would push and push myself being pretty much the same now foolishly - but of course following fully blown PAF and Pulmonary Vein Ablation at Liverpool 3 years ago and now 70 l am limited to what I can do...

I repeat Bobs D's mantra to myself daily as a reminder of how precious life is and so grateful to have reached 70

● Live everyday as if it were your last because one day it will be ●

Have a lovely day ...

Carol x

jeanjeannie50
jeanjeannie50 in reply to Hidden

Morning Carol/Paul

I was tall and slim too Sandra, odd the comment your instructor made about muscle density. I wonder if that's true? Your sporty path, when younger, sounds very much like mine. I'd swim with an advanced class twice weekly, go horse riding once a week, cycle weekends and evenings. Play badminton and always enjoyed long countryside walks. Later in life around age 47/48 I took up the cross country running with the local Hashing group. We ran through puddles, waded through rivers and once waded (armed with torches) through a tunnel where the river went under a town. I have to say that was one of the highlights of my life, though if I'd been told we were doing that I would never have turned up for the run. It was a sunny evening and I wondered why they asked if everyone had brought a torch.

I get puffed going up any stairs now and live in a bungalow. The thing I miss most from my life is the long countryside walks. Had hoped that when I retired from work I'd be out with the local rambling group, but it's not to be. Still manage to do shorter walks on the flat with friends when I can.

Paul, your widely spaced attacks of AF are typical of how AF rears it's head. They start out, years apart, then months and so on. Keep an eye on your diet and eat as much plant based whole foods as you can. Avoid food with artificial additives at all times, as eating wholesome food can really make a great difference to your AF. Also a lot of people sing the praises of magnesium (citrate or taurate) for reducing their attacks.

Jean

Thanks Jean, I do fear that this is going to start to increase now which does worry me but I am glad I joined this forum as I dont feel so alone now (odd as that may seem)!

I will try to watch my diet and I think I will start taking magnesium supplements if it might help, I open to anything that will help to keep it away.

I am not particularly tall, I am 6ft and weight 92kg, I have put a bit of weight on since my baby was born and was previously around 85kg so I wonder if that has contributed to things too.

RexH
RexH in reply to jeanjeannie50

Haven't responded for quite a while, but what you have said about the banging in the chest sounds very familiar. I use to scuba dive regularly and found while struggling up the hill from the dive my heart did what yours did, and I would be exhausted, my friend did not have a problem , just thought it was my 24lb weight belt and dive tankThis was 10 years before I had bad af.

"My second was again on waking 2 years later, and went away within an hour or two."

I think that your second one, was due to the shock of waking up after 2 years. As they say......get plenty of rest. However, that is over doing it a bit 😉

Hidden
Hidden in reply to john6

😂

Paulalexander
Paulalexander in reply to john6

Haha well with a 16 month old baby I'm lucky to get any rest so I think 2 years sleep would be quite welcome at the moment!

One of the things that i believe may have been a factor when i was first diagnosed with AF was sleep quality. I had a child that had transferred from cot to bed and he was getting out of his bed many times during the night and climbing into ours. This continued for a number of months. It was worse than the early baby years because there was very little time between the events ie never a chance to get into a deep sleep.

I also had suspicions regarding a bit of excess weight, alcohol, caffeine, dehydration etc.

My most recent onset was during the night after a heavy day at the Munich Oktoberfest!! (Self inflicted). Previous onsets had no direct alcohol relation.

As well as taking magnesium i also try to ensure i re-hydrate well after strenuous exercise. Not just with water but with an electrolyte solution to replenish lost minerals. I'm not saying this is a necessity, but like the magnesium supplement i like to think it may help.

I had an ablation for Flutter in February, so am trying to be good to keep the arrhythmia at bay.

I did have episodes from about 10 years earlier also, which although reported to a doctor were never taken seriously.

Buffafly
Buffafly in reply to john6

😅

Hello. Mine came out of the blue aged 61. I had just done a two hour drive to visit my daughter and was staying in a hotel so it was quite scary as I had no idea what it was. I ignored it for three days until I got home. I have since been diagnosed as having three leaky heart valves for which I am awaiting surgery. Could that be the cause of the AF? I have always worked hard (full time admin job and part time barmaid) and I admit to having been a smoker but never a heavy drinker. Good luck with your research!

Hi played football from the age of 2 now 60 still playing got AF at 54 it was due to endurance sports ex army PTI also i have a shopfitting company which can be stressful

i be leave the sport had a lot to do with it due to my fitness and a resting HR 35 take apixaban every day and just get on with life and try not to think about AF good luck

Paulalexander
Paulalexander in reply to Geza10

Thanks for the reply my resting HR is naturally low too, normally below 50 and lowest it consistently been was 38. I often wonder if this is the reason my attacks have all happened whilst I was asleep, as perhaps my heart rate has dropped even lower in my sleep. I try not to think about it either, and I had hoped it had gone away tbh... The last time I saw the Dr they did tell me it is likely to become a more regular occurrence as I get older.

Geza10
Geza10 in reply to Paulalexander

Hi Paul

My HR dropped to 23 when i was asleep and wired up to a heart monitor which was a bit worrying but i never woke and did sleep a good 9 hrs without ant interruptions

i am in permanent AF but touch wood i cant really tell even playing indoor footie with guys half my age i can keep up with them just not as quick(never was anyway) looking at the members on this site there seems to be two sorts of AF the people who have a rapid HR that has got to be very stressful and i wish we could find a cure for them

And then the ones like you and me who have a HR under 55 but still out of beat and taking apixaban until they find a cure

Paul i do not like to tempt fate but my AF has not got any worse with age

I try to eat right drink white wine and soda a lot of soda to the wine and do my football few medium weights and chill out reading books on Rome i hope every thing goes well for you and there are plenty of members on the site to give good advice good luck

Paulalexander
Paulalexander in reply to Geza10

Thanks Geza, I hope that mine doesnt progress and if I try to keep fit and healthy then I can keep it that way. I do like the odd beer but I dont tend to drink often, I just need to clean my diet up and try to relax a bit more!

Hi Paul - I think jeanjeanie50 maybe right in that we older people not realise we have AF until we have a really bad attack? In my case I always put the occasional fluttery chest down to anxiety or stress, and the feeling of lightheadedness on waking after an evening nap sometimes, down to low blood pressure none of which caused me enough concern to visit doctor. Then I had a TIA a couple of months back, at which point an irregular heartbeat diagnosed .... Never was a sporty person and had a fairly sedentary job but enjoyed walking and outdoors, now 68 years old

Hi Paul, my áfib started at 48 years, just the odd occasion for 2 hrs and stopped be itself, this escalated at 53 years to once every two weeks and lasted two days. I was proscribed Flecanide which really helped and stopped any episodes for two years until I had an ablation 4 months ago, so far Afib free.

I have been involved with sport from teens to now, lots of endurance running, triathlons. Swimming and cycling, also weights to build strengths, all of which may be factors for the onset of my áfib ?? My Afib would start whilst running and later in my sleep, for sure drinking alcohol was a trigger but I believe snoring could have contributed, along with - dehydration, spicy foods, stress and too much coffee or tea. I cut out all of these which really helped but slowly the Afib came back so àblation was the only option for me. Good luck and hope you find a solution.

Thats very interesting that you mention snoring as I have put a bit of weight on in the last year and I have started snoring. How did you find the ablation procedure?

The Ablation procedure was straight forward, in and out in 24 hrs. It has taken 3 months to heal, had 24 hrs monitor a few weeks ago and my specialist who is brilliant has taken me off blood thinners , Flecanide and said he doesn't want to see me for 12months, if ok at that time doesn't want to see me again! If various meds don't work long term I would think about an Ablation but do some research on the heart specialist as I believe that make a big difference.

Hi Paul, my Af came on 2 years ago, now 61. I have an enlarged l atrium and have rowed competitively for 25 years. I was actually swimming when I had my episode. I am on Apixaban and had cardioversion and to date haven’t had another episode. I have given up alcohol completely and try to eat well / sleep well and reduce stress. Touch wood at present am ok . Good luck with it all and take care, Chris.

Paulalexander
Paulalexander in reply to Cabert

I hope it stays away for you Chris, I had become complacent I think in the 6 years since it last happened to me. I think this was a wake up call that I need to take better care of my health overall!

Cabert
Cabert in reply to Paulalexander

Good luck with it all Paul. Its tricky but I think the more we can reduce our risks the better we are even if this requires changing patterns of behaviour and hobbies etc. Easier said than done but at least we have options.

I had asthma as a child, and consequently was a duffer at anything sporty (exercise-induced asthma? - It wasn't recognised then. I've never had much energy - always hated housework etc! Always assumed my lungs were weak eg I've never managed to blow up a balloon! In my early 50s I started having 'palpitations' from time to time, which were labelled then as a normal consequence of menopause, so never sought help. I told a doctor once but refused his offer of drugs - my episodes were months apart, though getting stronger, so I certainly didn't want daily medication, and didn't know about PIPs. Later anxiety would bring AF on, but I didn't seek help because I knew it wouldn't be happening when I finally got to see a doctor!

Eventually I had a TIA (I took supplements and suspect they were giving me some stroke-protection - Praise God!) and was diagnosed in hospital. Discharged with 6 different medications, including amiodorone (!) all of which I set about decreasing at the earliest opportunity. Now I am on Rivaroxiban, with Nebivolol and Propofenone as PIPs, but attacks are getting closer and closer - maybe 3 days free, then 3 days AF etc. (Not in UK so language is a barrier to getting further help - It's easier not to try . . .)

So - No, We're not all sporty but - my mother had it! So . . . . . . . . . that's probably why I'm here!

Paulalexander
Paulalexander in reply to Polski

Thanks for the reply, my wife is Polish! Are you living in the UK?

Polski
Polski in reply to Paulalexander

No - I'm English - But living in Poland, and trying to learn to speak the language, but it is very difficult!

Paulalexander
Paulalexander in reply to Polski

Oh tell me about it! I have been with my wife for 12 years, been to Poland many times and have also been to college to do a 6 month Polish basic language course and I still struggle with the language!

Hi Paul,

My afib did not come with age per se (I was 55) but as a result of catching 2 infections from rats, Leptospirosis and Toxoplasmosis, at the same time in 2009 (moved into a contaminated rental property). The infections caused inflammation of the membrane around the heart (pericarditis) and fluid around the heart, which was diagnosed with an echo cardiogram. The cardiologist thinks the diseases caused scarring, which became extra nodes controlling my heart. I suspect a lot of people who start having AF for no apparent reason may kick off with some kind of infection, especially in tropical and sub-tropical areas where these diseases are endemic. I've been on Flecainide anti-arrhythmic for the 9 years since. Mostly the Flecainide seems to prevent it, but sometimes I have breakthroughs. Things that trigger AF are: late nights, stress, eating meals (particularly heavy ones) in the evening (full stomach presses on vagus nerve that can get the heart freaking out, or even just the full stomach pressing directly on the diaphragm and heart). Also if I take my meds for a few days from the emergency spare packet in my handbag (like staying away from home with friends for a couple of days) and the weather's been hot, possibly the drug has reduced potency (so now I keep a high turnover going in my mobile stashes of medication so they are always fresh). Also my AF can be triggered by gut problems that cause more frequent motions - it all goes through a bit fast and the level of drug in your body can drop. Sometimes just lying down to go to sleep at night can trigger it, but only if some of the other trigger factors are present. If I'm run down, have a chest infection, coughing, feeling fragile, that can be enough to get the AF going. Mine always comes on at night after I've been lying down for a while.

67 yrs, had no clue....got a physical and my pulse was 188. The doc said, “don’t you feel that? It would have knocked me down!” I forgot BP meds at home while on vacation and the doc strongly believes that may have triggered it. Plus, we were at elevation of 5k....plus I don’t drink enough water. I was a walking candidate.

Paulalexander
Paulalexander in reply to exbcmc

Oh wow I have no idea how you could not feel it! Back in 2012 my pulse was 180+ consistently when I woke up and tried to ignore it hoping it would go away like it had done on the previous couple of occasions. It made me feel so bad, shaky, weak, lightheaded and just that horrible odd fluttery feeling that makes you hyper aware of every heartbeat that I had to go to A and E and get fleccanide.

exbcmc
exbcmc in reply to Paulalexander

I did not sleep on my left side and VERY dizzy standing...that was it. Oh always tired.

I was told I had atrial fibrillation by a general practitioner when I was 71. I had no symptoms. I underwent a maze procedure with open heart surgery when I was 72. The open heart procedure was to fix a leaky mitral valve, which also gave me no symptoms. Since my operation, I have had no reports of AF or mitral valve leakage. However, I had no indication before so there has really been no change. I bicycle fairly regularly but don't do much other exercise, unless you count dancing. So I don't know if I'm improved or not!

Hi Paul , Both my sister and I have AF , she has always avoided any type of sport , never been over weight , no other health issues . Diagnosed at 60 y after 4 yr history of fainting , no other symptoms . I on the otherhand have always been very sporty and work involved heavy lifting , overweight with symptoms ( on reflection ) for decades.

I suspect my Mother had undiagnosed Af , my Grandmother a severe stroke in her 50s. So I guess it's really quite random , extreme sport and genetic leanings contribute but there has to be something that links us all .

Jean S.

#Paulalexander I think AF describes a set of symptoms that have a variety of causes. But there does seem to be two clusters based around either the sympathetic or the parasympathetic nervous system. The first seems to be about stress, physical or psychological, and often experienced by younger, fitter people. The second is the other side of the coin. Slow heart beat and BP, less active , more relaxed or even asleep at onset of symptoms, maybe older? It is perhaps better described as a spectrum, with people sometimes having a mixture. The two nervous symptoms are supposed to keep each in check. I agree with BobD about the triggers. In my case, AF is the most recent of a series of inflammatory conditions, most of which are associated with autoimmunity. So I am working with a nutritionist to reduce inflammation, improve hydration, avoid certain inflammatory foods - mainly wheat and dairy - and supplement with magnesium and other minerals, b vits., omega 3, etc. I have also had an ablation at Papworth and this has been helpful but not a cure. Do your own research, and don't rely on orthodox medics! Can recommend videos on YouTube about AF by Dr Sanjay Gupta, and blogs by Chris Kresser, Dr Rangan Chatterjee.

Thanks for the reply Hilary, I will definitely be doing some research now and trying to supplement with magnesium and stay hydrated.

AF is horrible and I think as time goes by I have become more and more complacent, I actually thought that as it had been 6 years it had gone, only for it to rear its ugly head again.

The way you describe it as a spectrum makes a lot of sense and it looks like I fall somewhere in the middle of that.

Hi Paul :-) we all seem to vary slightly with our experiences of AF .The first of what I now know was an episode of AF was about 15 years ago when I had been doing some gardening on a hot day and I suddenly felt faint, in a cold sweat , my heart pounding erratically, my legs shaking and a feeling of being grabbed by the throat . I just thought I had overdone things and it only lasted a few moments so I wasn't concerned.

I had some 'odd feelings' over the years , a bit breathless and shaky then two years ago I had a bad chest infection and was coughing a lot. Suddenly at almost every meal I found I couldn't swallow food without getting a fast irregular heart beat and feeling faint. I thought I had damaged something coughing. Drinking was ok it was just swallowing food that caused a problem . After two weeks of this I went to see a GP who thought I had a blockage in the windpipe and wasn't too bothered about my pulse until I mentioned previous strange incidents.

The swallowing thing then stopped and the real P-AF episodes kicked in with a fast chaotic heart rate , shaking , breathlessness, the odd feeling in my throat and fear.

The episodes were happening about once a week and lasting for up to 15 hours.

An ECG at the doctor's surgery and the 24 hour monitor I was allowed to keep for one day showed nothing because I wasn't having an episode at the time.

An appointment was made for me to attend an arrhythmia clinic, that took 6 months. A week after attending the clinic where my details were taken I managed to get myself to the local cottage hospital for an ECG during an episode and was finally diagnosed with fast P-AF and prescribed anticoagulants and beta blockers. I also had an echocardiogram but had difficulty getting the results . When I did after 2 months it just said 'no significant abnormalities'.

After that I took a serious look at my lifestyle cutting out alcohol , eating only small healthy meals and makings sure I had daily brisk walks.

I have lost a stone and a half in weight and the long episodes of P-AF happen only occasionally. I get more shorter episodes now and with medication keeping my heart date down they are less symptomatic and scary.

I have lost count of how many episodes of P-AF I have had. I have never been to hospital except for the ecg preferring to stay at home and do 'calm breathing 'rather than adding to my anxiety with a trip to A&E and a long wait on a trolly. What can they do for me anyway except cardioversion with drugs or manually and I don't want that unless the episodes last for more than 24 hours . I would, however, call an ambulance if I was experiencing chest pain or breathing became too difficult.

Hey Paul,

Well, I am 41 and up until recently a police officer. I was always active, and whilst not as fit as I could be I wasn't certainly unfit. I began getting the odd session of AF, but did not know what it was at the time, putting it down to adrenaline of having a knife or gun pulled on you. Then it started whilst in bed at rest and the first night I really realised something was wrong was last October when I got up for a wee at 4am and my HR was 180bpm! I drive myself to A&E and was told I have classic AF, and I was administered Fleccinaide which had no effect and then my HR went to 236bpm and I was told I would be cardioverted. I was placed in a ward to wait for a slot in the operating theatre and whilst waiting fell asleep and I went back to normal SR. After that they became more and more frequent and got to the point where I was signed off work for 3 months (I'm still off, but due to return next week)

This resulted in my ablation procedure being brought forward and I had a successful cryo and RF ablation a couple of weeks ago. I seem to be getting a lot of ectopics, but I am in normal SR. Like you I have a young family and it's awful knowing I can't run with my 5 year and 3 year old boys and do things I never batted an eyelid to before.

All I can say is that I was told that the heart learns to misbehave like a child and that it becomes easier to go into AF. I think the vagal nerve plays a big part, and certainly did in my case. I am not sure age is as relevant these days as more and more younger people are having ablations and suffering AF.

I won't pretend and say it's easy, but I think you have to remain positive when you can, and not become too obsessed with checking HR every time you feel a beat. I understand you want to know what is happening, but I became almost obsessed with it, to the point I put my Apple Watch in a drawer for 3 months and only just got it out recently.

The people on these pages are wonderful and there is lots of advice and knowledge to be shared here, so use it to your advantage.

I wish you luck pal!

Leon

Thanks for the reply, sounds like you are dealing with it very well! I guess my main issue is I really thought it had gone away and that the Dr was wrong when he had said to me usually AF becomes more prevalent with age. It sounds like yours came on quite quickly so that must have been stressful!

I bet you cant wait to get back to work after 3 months off!

I wouldn't say I deal with it well, more a case of having to learn to live with and adapt, which of course makes things easier to handle. I think knowing what is going on exactly helps to deal with things a bit better. That's not to say you won't feel a bit down on occasion, but overall I manage ok. Mine did come on very quickly, but I had a very difficult couple of years with my former career and the consultant thinks that certainly would have helped it along.

I am due back to work next week and I'm worried I will end up going off again as I don't feel great, but I won't know until I go back I guess. My job will be In jeopardy if I go off again.

All I would say is do not be afraid of being a pain in the arse to consultants, GP's etc. This is YOUR health, so you need to understand what is happening.

Hi Paul,

Response 52

From what I understand and everyone feel free to correct me-

Every time you have an afib episode calcium ions are jammed into heart cells which increases conductivity and makes the next one easier to occur. Afib begats Afib.

I saw on Ted Talk that increased heart size also opens up path ways either from excessive exercise or caring excess weight. If you are really heavy fat cells impregnating the heart also opens up pathways. Then you have all the triggers. Alcohol is a big one. My mother had Afib I exercised way too much and probably had 2-3 drinks a night. I had a stroke and temporarily lost the ability to read. It was not diagnosed as Afib until a year latter when I felt the afib and went in for a ECG. I had a couple more events and went on Flecainide. I cut back drinking to 2-3 a week vs day and lost 25 lbs and have been afib free for 2 years. I also cut back cardio. I never met a stair master that I didn't try to max out my HR.

I read an Australian study that determined fit people with Afib had a significantly higher alblation success rate compared with those with lots of weight and health problems.

Hey thats very interesting, I didnt know about the calcium ions it makes sense now as to why as you get older they would start to become more and more regular, I guess over time I will have had an accumulative build up of calcium.

In 2012 I had the entire range of tests and was on the GP watch list until 2016, they hadnt mentioned that my heart was enlarged or abnormal but I would say I do exercise a lot!

I drink a couple of beers a week but in the past I have been out and drank a lot as young people do... I definitely think it contributes to AF for a number of reasons, I dont think people as well even after a single drink, it also dehydrates the body and changes blood pressure. My last episode was Friday night just gone and I had not drank any alcohol for over a week though, but I was dehydrated and I actually remember getting into bed and thinking 'my mouth is dry I hope my heart doesnt go out of time in my sleep...', complacency prevailed and I decided it wasnt going to happen, couldnt be bothered to go downstairs for water and...

I did also train very hard the day before so this could also have contributed as my cortisol levels would have been a lot higher.

doodle68
doodle68 in reply to jwsonoma

Hi JW :-) this article I think relates in part to the activity of calcium but is a bit technical for me ...

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

It also mentions the LEGACY study which I discovered last year and have been putting into practice .

The article above concludes...

''Although results are preliminary, lifestyle modification and autonomic rebalancing approaches may provide the key to more successful control of AF in the future.''

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