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AF Association
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On the mend (hopefully)!

Hi all, firstly, what a great forum for support. I've been following others posts before making my first one today and it has been a great support tool. I'm a young, fit 29 year old who was diagnosed with the dreaded AF late last year and following a short stint on Bisoprolol 2.5mg then Verapamil and Flecainaide and a few hospital visits, had a Cryo ablation done 3 weeks ago.

Good news is that aside from the odd skipped beat and ectopic here and there, I haven't had an AF episode since however my anxiety has been really bad, especially today which was my first day back at work ( phased return). Any tips on reducing my stress / anxiety levels aside from the usual breathing techniques and mindfulness?

Thanks again!

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make sure you are doing all you can - e.g. healthy weight, no alcohol, plenty of potassium rich foods ( no supplements and not if you have kidney problems) and gentle exercise and them just breathe deeply and hope for the best. Good that it sounds as if it has gone well.

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Thanks Rosy G. I'm a healthy weight and will look into potassium rich foods ( I do eat lots of bananas so that's a start!). Haven't been able to do exercise until this week due to the ablation so hopefully that will help as it's my usual stress outlet. Thanks for the advice!

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I haven't had an ablation but after noticing, on my third visit to A and E with AF, that my potassium was below range ( and had other blood tests to compare with so it wasn't usually low) I increased potassium in food and had no more AF for 3 years and then just 2 episodes in last 18 months ( before that episodes were every week, two weeks or monthly for the 7 months since AF started. I also have a magnesium supplement prescribed by GP as a cardiologist said if I was upping Potassium I should have the Magnesium for balance, One easy way to get a large amount of the 4500 mg Potassium needed daily is jacket potato at 1000mg !! Salmon and bananas both are about 450mg each. Coconut water (Vitococo brand is highest in Pot.) is even better than a banana.!

Rest is from fruit and veg!!

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Hi Rosy, each time I've been in ED I've had low potassium too so makes sense. Will look at the coconut water in conjunction with a banana etc to keep it up and look into magnesium supplements. Thanks!

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it will definitely help I think. You may be well off !! but it's worth me mentioning that Sainsbury's, tesco, Waitrose and Ocad o seem to take turns at reducing the Coconut water from £3.50 a litre to £2.50 or £2 and I then get a bulk order as it lasts a long time!!

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Perfect, always looking for a bargain so will keep an eye out! Thank you so much

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Costco sells vitacoco in bulk boxes that work out much cheaper than buying singles, especially if you pick it up when its on offer. Ask around among your friends, one of them will probably have a card.

:)

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I had an ablation 3 1/2 months ago and my anxiety has just begun to go down. I haven't had any classic afib since the ablation, but I have had ongoing episodes of palpitations (my heart rate stays even but doubles all of a sudden for up to 5-10 minutes) that totally freak me out. My primary care doctor gave me an SSRI antidepressant, which has helped out. I also went back to the hospital for some tests that proved pretty definitively that my heart was fine. This helped cut down my worries about my overall heart health. But mostly it's just been time and getting used to a new reality. I agree also about weight, healthy eating and limiting alcohol. All part of new reality.

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Hi Bshersey, thanks for that and good to hear you've had no AF since the ablation! Good to know that the anxiety is easing for you too. I know its still really early in the grand scheme of things (3 weeks since ablation) and i think once i have my follow up with the EP after 3 months I will feel a lot more at ease. It's just the constant worry I have and it can get a lot sometimes. I did consider asking for an SSRI to help out but was worried I might become dependant on it or struggle to come off it in the future. So much to think about and consider! Think I'll give a nice light gym session a go tomorrow and see how I fare after that. Thanks again, it's nice just to hear about others who have gone through similar ordeals. Oh and I have eliminated alcohol and caffeine from my diet since the ablation too :)

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Be careful with the exercise. Three weeks is still pretty early. Let your body guide you and don't expect to be able to pick up where you left off. My cardiologist gave me the OK for serious cardio exercise after I passed a nuclear stress test four weeks after ablation. But I've still mostly just been walking my 10,000 steps a day. I think doctors undersell ablation recovery. It's helped me to hear from people on here who say it took 6 or even 9 months to feel right. It's major surgery.

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My body itself feels pretty good. I'm not on any of my medications I was on previously, just Rivoroxaban for the blood thinner. Im weary that I can't do any sort of weight lifting or even medium level cardio. I'm thinking just a gentle walk up a slight incline and some stretching or light ab work. More for a change of scene as I always enjoyed the gym pre-ablation. Fair point about the longer recovery time and underselling and will make sure I keep it in mind if recovery takes a little longer.

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Great about being taken off meds so quickly. I am just starting to be weaned after 3 months and I expect the process to go on for at least 3-6 more months. The EP does not seem to be in any hurry.

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Yeah I had only been on medication since February so 4 months total so after the ablation, my EP was happy for me to stop my meds and only take a verapamil and flecainide if I have any episodes of AF between now and the 3 month check up. Glad to hear you're coming off them slowly but surely too!

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Ugh, I am still on 120mg of sotalol 2x daily, lisinopril and lipitor. But he did take me off Eliquis, imdur and reduced the statin to minimum dose. So it's progress. I will be happy to get off the sotalol eventually.

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As Bob says on here Make sure you drink at least 2 litres of water Anxiety goes hand in hand with AF I have been off work since February and am very anxious about going back

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Hi Vonnieruth, thanks for the advice. Luckily I drink plenty of water since being diagnosed so no issues there! Just need to relax and stop thinking about the worst case scenario (I.e. what if the AF comes back!). Sorry to hear you're anxious too but I'm sure you'll ease back into it in time just like me :)

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Tell me about it my mind is in over drive I do 12 hour shifts

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Hi Bobgolf2, it's great to hear you are doing well after your ablation.

All the suggestions so far will definitely help you to overcome stress and anxiety but I don't think there is a magic wand that will make it disappear quickly, however, as many say, time is a great healer and provided you continue to do all the right things, I'm sure your confidence will return and all the issues which cause you concern will fade.

Like most of us, you have been through one hell of a rollercoaster ride in the last six months or so and the fact you are so young probably makes it worse. You sound as is if you are responding well to some good advice on how best to recover so all the signs are looking good. Soon you should try and fill your life with as wide a range of interests as possible so that AF becomes less important and takes up less of your "thinking" time....all so easy to say, but not so easy to do, but it will pay dividends in the end. Best of luck, a few gentle rounds of golf might be a good start!!!

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Thanks Flapjack! Definitely hit me a bit hard because I thought I was young and bulletproof for sure! Will take all of the comments on board and just power through my phased return back to work. Good advice re: hobbies. I do love golf so will likely get out in the next week or so and ease back into the gym very lightly tomorrow as a tester. Thanks for your comments, my logical mind is a curse as I want a list of steps to follow to get rid of the anxiety as quickly as possible! I know it isn't that easy but nice to hear from others who are / have experienced similar things.

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Depends on what sort of anxiety? Do you have physical symptoms - increase in HR, dry mouth, feelings of doom, adrenaline like rush, feeling helpless, sick stomach feeling etc?

Or do you have worry thoughts? Or both?

hgi.org.uk/resources/delve-...

Best done in the moment but also to have some sort of regular relaxation exercises.

Doing anything you enjoy - increases endorphins which promotes healing which banishes stress hormones. I suspect you have always got this from weight lifting - it’s made you feel good. BUT right now, it’s the last thing you should be doing! Your body will be suffering withdrawal like symptoms if this was the case so of course you will be itching to return to something that makes you feel good and therein lies the danger. Light exercise - fine but avoid

ab & chest work for another couple of weeks as it could trigger a vagal response = ectopics or even AF if you persists. Listen to your body, go very slowly and gradually and you will soon heal. Too much, too soon and you will be back to square one. (Speaking from experience - not a good one!)

There is also emerging evidence of nutritional deficiencies being associated with anxiety which you may want to research.

Best wishes for your recovery

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Hi CDreamer, thanks for that. I have a little bit of both. Mainly at work my HR increases and I feel a bit overwhelmed but have occasional worry thoughts too (I.e. what if my ablation wasn't a success).

Will take your point about the gym and maybe leave it for another week to be safe as don't want to undo the good work so far!

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Feeling overwhelmed is an early warning sign of chronic stress building - Daily Mindfulness & breathing exercises do help most people to ground themselves & prevent burn out. Does your employer has an Employee Assistance Scheme? You can often get help from people outside of the company if they have EAS

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Hi CDreamer, I'm doing daily mindfulness and breathing which does help. I think it's just the fact that I've had a month off work and try it to deal with both easing back into it and the changes to my lifestyle. My employer do have an EAS and I am getting some private counselling to help as well.

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Hey Bob,

I had a cryoablation almost 4 months ago (3/12/18) after very sporadic AF which became more frequent. I too am young and very athletic. I haven't had a single bout of AF since the ablation and have been off of the Flecainide for 3 weeks. I have had a few episodes of regular and rapid beats that usually dissipate by the time I grab my Kardia.

I've been back to work for 3 months. I work as an ER physician in a very stressful trauma center.

So...let's talk about anxiety.

Anyone who tells you to get over and on with it is ridiculous. That's like telling someone who hasn't eaten for 5 days to stop being hungry.

I have never experienced anxiety in my life like this, and that's saying something for a person in my position who has done my job for 20 years.

The anxiety completely disabled me at first. I couldn't even leave my home.

By far, the worst part of this whole mess: The surgeries, meds, cardioversion...has been the daily anxiety and constant ruminating thought patterns.

The first skipped beat that I had after my ablation sent me into orbit. I was completely convinced that the ablation had failed and that my life was over.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: This is your heart. It is the single most important part of living because if it stops, you stop. How could something like AF NOT cause constant anxiety?

I know what's in these minds, because it's also in mine. WHEN will it happen again? WILL it happen again? Will I die? Will I be that person that cannot be helped? Will I become disabled and lose everything...never be able to enjoy the things I did before? Will I lose my mind?

The answer is: I don't know. Neither do you, Neither does anyone else. No one can tell you that it will or will not come back. So, let's throw out a few facts.

Many ablations (in the right patient) are successful and cure AF. Second ablations have an even higher cure rate.

AF won't kill you unless you have a massive stroke or go into heart failure, which doesn't happen as quickly as you think in an otherwise healthy heart.

Rapid AF (AF with RVR) is a horrid feeling. But you can actually sustain this rhythm for weeks before your heart fails. There are many case reviews where people had it for months. I personally can't imagine being in that rhythm for more than an hour, but I see it all of the time in the ER.

My point is... you have TIME to get help. You can be on a desert island in the middle of nowhere and still have time to charter a flight and get help.

The chances of you staying in rapid AF for days to weeks is very slim. Only 5% of patients have this happen.

Your heart is on your side. Although it has been damaged a bit and is confused, it is on your side and always trying to maintain NSR.

Always have PIP meds and anticoagulants on hand. This will decrease your stroke risk a lot and most likely cause you to convert.

If you go back into AF, you and your EP can deal with it then.

Until that time, know that anxiety is NORMAL. Let it happen...it will fade. This is a life changing disease. One with many, many treatment options.

The more you beat yourself up about your anxiety, the more you feed the beast. Let it happen, this is your normal fight or flight. Cognitive therapy, meds, and mindfulness are great tools. Understanding and accepting are very important.

Our journeys with AF are recent and fresh.

Listen to those that have dealt with it for years...they don't even pay attention to it anymore!

Hope this helps.

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Thanks for the message Quilafizz, very helpful to hear from someone in a similar situation. It's definitely the fear of the unknown that does it for me so need to try and accept it and take it day by day. I've arranged some counselling, practicing mindfulness and am eating a healthy diet etc to help with my mental healing so just needs a bit of time I expect.

I have my PiPs with me in my wallet in case I do get any episodes but touch wood, I've been alright since ablation. I expect each day I get through at work will become easier and easier and the worry thoughts / anxiety will fade. Thanks again for your message, really helped me!

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Do you take any antidepressants for your anxiety? I had four hospitalizations and and abliation and cardioversion. Abliation 3 months ago. Out of work and my anxiety and stress is over the top. They tried Zoloft but made me very unsettled. Any advise. Than yiu.

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Hi Rebma, I don't take any antidepressants as I am trying to employ mindfulness and counselling first to understand it better before taking that route. Sorry to hear that Zoloft didn't work for you.

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I did try some cognitive therapy one on one sessions. Just didn’t click for me. Don’t want to get on antidepressents and never was on them before. this afib started 6 months ago. It is a life changer. Do you live in USA or UK? Do you see cardiologist and an EP?

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Hi Rebma, it does change you and you do need to cut out certain triggers. For me this is alcohol and caffeine and I try to get good night's sleep too. It is manageable and I recently had an ablation to fix the issue. Most of my anxiety has been around whether or not the procedure will work and having more AF attacks as I had a couple in work situations. I've only had one counselling session which seemed to give me some relief but mine isn't CBT, it's just exploring the anxiety itself and how I can understand it better. Just try and take it easy and if you have an AF episode, stay as calm as possible. I live in the UK and saw both a cardiologist before having the ablation with my EP. I hope it gets a bit easier for you!

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Thank you. I don’t drink or have caffeine. I also have high blood pressure which is controlled with metoprolol. A beta blocker. They say it can cause depression. Was on a lot of different strong medication in hospital I think my body is physically and mentally exhausted. My husband has been so supportive but I seem to have a hard time getting over the fear of it all. This is not an easy one!!! Never knew what afib even was. We live in US not too far from Manhattan in the state of NJ. We are surrounded by cardiologists. Finding a good one is an issue. Thanks for helping.

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High blood pressure gradually remodels your heart and is your main enemy, Pills work for some but in the longer term I found the only way to get blood pressure down and keep it down is to ruthlessly lose weight.. It is hard to do but a1000 - 1200 calorie a day diet will get you there. Doctors are busy people, for them' take a pill' is a tempting answer.

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It is a pity this reply has been 'lost' in this thread, it would be good copied and posted on its own as it is such a great description of the AF experience and very reassuring to hear assurances from your professional perspective. I wouldn't feel right to do it myself but I hope you will.

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Feel free to repost. I’m trying to do it from my phone but apparently technology on the I phone has been lost on me!🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️

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I too have anxiety about PAF returning. And in the beginning after my ablation I was afraid to leave my house. Time has helped decrease my anxiety. So it gets better has you doing the things you did before. So give yourself time to heal.

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Thanks cupcakes. Really encouraging to have someone say it gets better! I've always been an impatient person so after one day back at work which actually went okay aside from a constant underlying anxiety, I was ready to retreat again. Another day back in the office tomorrow and already I'm feeling better about it. Small steps

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Yes baby steps lead to bigger steps. I am working on traveling. It was such a relief this pass weekend when my daughter and I drove 2 hours from home for a strawberry festival and 2 hours back. I was nervous on the way up but not back because it went well. We are going to try more short trips then flying . I use to never want to leave the house due to the anxiety. So it definitely does get bettet

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