Causes and Symptoms, Stress and Cures - AF Association

AF Association

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Causes and Symptoms, Stress and Cures


Posted this on Facebook yesterday, thought I’d share here too

There is a group on Facebook called, Alternative AF Cures. But is there a Normal, or Common Cure? Is ablation considered a “cure”? I don’t think I’ve seen any cures. So the title is a little misleading but I understand that the motivation is to open up the dialog for potentials beside the allopathic route.

I have never had health insurance until I got married at 58 a decade ago, so before that time I always had to deal with my own health, and lapses thereof without the assistance of a medical professional. One of the insights that I gained is that to look and understand the causes must be my priority... symptoms are secondary. I have read many times that “no one knows the causes of AF, there is no cure.”

How many of you have come up with a cause? When I say cause I mean primary cause… you may say alcohol, or heart disease, or weight, or sleep apnea… but before that… what caused those causes? There are only two possibilities, two categories… it is either something external like a virus or genetic certainty, or it is internal, something that we have chosen to do, or not do. There is much less we can do about external causes, but the internal one we are quite capable to moderate if we are willing to take full responsibility for our healing.

And I say the the root cause is stress. I believe the elimination of stress is the cure for AF.

I believe my case of AF came on from stress in my life, emotional, mental and physical. I am retired and I have the time and interest to look at the condition soberly. At first I was quite upset. The pounding in my chest, the tachycardia, shortness of breath, the weakness, the irregularity, the confusion of why this is happening to an otherwise healthy person. An avid bike rider I’ve learned AF is common in athletes. Why? The heart is stressed. Not everyone has the kind of heart that can ride 20 miles a day without problems. Some can get healthy by riding, some get AF, it depends on your physiology and anatomy.

If stress was the cause, the symptoms themselves were more stress! Getting ultrasounds and EKGs were stress, see the cardiologist was stress. Reading about the condition was even more stressful with the dire diagnosis. Pharmaceuticals are stressful to the body in several ways… don’t get me started! So I had stress in my life, the AF doubled my stress, the treatment options, as well as exploring alternatives were nothing but stress. Mindfulness based stress reduction is itself a subtle form of stress . Something's not right with this picture.

I was having 48-72 hour episodes two or three times a week for six months. Four days without AF was a rare occurrence. Now it is nine months later and I am virtually symptom free and stress free. My path was custom made for me, and yours need to be custom for you, but the key is that stress must be eliminated, not reduced, not managed, it must be eliminated completely. It can be done, it’s not necessarily simple, but it is worth it. You must look at where is the stress in your life, how are you complicit in creating and maintaining the stress. What are you doing with your body that is physically stressful? Food, chemicals, behavior, environment? What about your mental states -- do you think constantly about the past and future -- how much of your thinking is stressful? What about your beliefs and assumptions, are they contributing? Emotions… how often do you find yourself in some form of fear? Are you disconnected from your inner joy, love, peace, and compassion? We must identify where the stress is in our lives and eliminate it completely. We must heal our relationships, with ourselves and others. We must find a way to quieten our minds, to be present and engaged. And we must really pay attention to our body -- how are we mistreating it, disrespecting it, ignoring it’s messages.

Best wishes to you all!

39 Replies

Interesting post. I might agree a lot more if you change Stress for Distress. A zero stress life would mean not working. not finding food etc and man the animal needs some stress in order for the body to evolve. and develop. Remove every stress from a person and they become a vegetable very quickly and would fade away in quite a short time.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction (Newton's First law) so when you stand up your body gets pushed up by the earth beneath. The stress this causes on your muscles is why you have them.

Sorry to be pedantic but it is not stress that is the problem it is distress when the forces exceed the needs. It is a common missuse of the term I agree but let us not kid ourselves anybody can have a zero stress life. Avoid distress by all means and changing the way you deal with life is known to help many conditions.

Kaioatey in reply to BobD

Hi Bob... thanks for the reply. I hope my post wasn't too stressful for people. :) It is true that to function in society we often sacrifice our inner peace for nice house, nice food, etc. But I do know people that have set their spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health as the first priority, and they are stress free. Some are yogis, some are monks, some are simple people who have tapped into a deeper wisdom, or are simply accepting of what is given and live in surrender to the present moment. They have tapped into an deeper, timeless way of living. They have no stress because they have found peace in every aspect of life. It is rare, but if ending AF is your goal, there are living examples on this planet at this moment. It is probably true that not working is a pre-requisite for ending stress, but ultimately it is our choice to get on the stressful hamster wheel because of the programming we have been given by our family, our teachers, and our churches.

BobDVolunteer in reply to Kaioatey

You have spectacularly missed my point. I argue not with the premise but with your word stress which is totally incorrect in every way. IMHO. As an engineer I believe that the only truly stress free situation is zero gravity and vacuum.

Kaioatey in reply to BobD

As an engineer, you have heard of Inner Engineering?

pottypete1 in reply to BobD


My problem is that my subconscious brain gets distressed and my logical brain has no power to counteract the manifestation of fright and flight.

Last evening I had an appointment to have an Echocardiogram. The reason is that I am getting more breathless more often and my EP has said that I have Left Ventricular Hypertrophy to add to my personal medical dictionary.

I have had a number of Echocardiograms before and was in no way worried about it.

Try telling that to my subconscious brain. As the evening approached my blood pressure went up and I developed numerous fast runs of heart beats. Add to that the constant need to go to the toilet, by the time I got to the Echo department of my hospital I was a quivering wreck.

This morning BP back to normal and my heart nearly in Bradycardia with no medication or medical intervention.

A recent course of Hypnotherapy was of no use to me I think I am just not susceptible to the process.

So back to all the usual basic remedies of meditation and slow breathing.

I had tangible stress all my working life and now I am semi retired my subconscious mind is inventing worry that in reality doesn’t exist in my conscience mind. It makes it even worse when my logical brain knows that distress is not good for an AF sufferer like me.

There is a good children’s Mr Men book about Mr Worry. Throughout the little book he encounters things that worry him and then when all the worries are over he worries because he no longer has anything to worry about.


Hidden in reply to pottypete1

Hi pete yes oh yes I'm exactly the same and i have no control over the stress/destress response, i have done all the mindfulness courses read all the books but it is what it is, Sue

bennie06 in reply to pottypete1

Mr Worry has it right. Without stress our life would be empty and in a wealth creation society day to day stress is difficult to avoid. How you manage that stress is the key.


Every person on this planet lives with stress, but only a small percentage gets into trouble with AF. There is also a physical predisposition for AF (genetics). Take care!

Tantaanna in reply to Hidden

How do we know if we are predisposed to AF through genetics- just ran into one of my many cousins- saying that’s a Havemeier thing.

(my maiden name and paternal side of my family) Drs said my dad had an irregular heartbeat and as he aged certain Drs wouldn’t sedate him say for hernia repair rather do a local) my dad said he had a buzzin in his head.

Hidden in reply to Tantaanna

It is hard to say how the inheritance goes round. In my family all the males are bald, and I still have the hair at the age of 66 (I'm the only one). One can never be quite sure...

I would say define "Stress"? With some individuals it is a (problem) Or as they say these days, (a Challenge) that will bring on a stress/stressful situation. As Bob alludes (I think), "distress" is a more likely cause of stress.

Kaioatey in reply to john6

Hi John... distress is entirely a way we meet something... one person's distress is another persons play. I know two people who lost their houses in the recent fires in California. That is clearly a distress. But while one peon is suffering with the loss, the other has accepted it and has moved on in an amazing journey or discovery and growth. It has to do with our programming, our preferences and judgements. We actually decide what is distress.

I am defining stress in three areas, mental, where the mind is thinking thoughts that are anything but practical or peaceful; emotional, where there are emotional states of reactivity and pain; and physical, where the body is experiencing anything that is inharmonious to our natural physiology and anatomy. The point is is that we are fully responsible for the stress in our lives, and we can change it if we are motivated, curious, and feel empowered. But we are trained to accept the advice of others, and to trust doctors, etc. We alone choose how to meet life's challenges, and we can do it. We possess the keys to our liberation.

john6 in reply to Kaioatey

Are you saying that Monks/Buddhists/those into meditation/Yoga enthusiasts etc do not get Afib?

I think that it is also fair to mention that it is NOT always possible for many people to de - stress, basically due to their mental make up. Your perceived idea of self cure would possibly have some merit - in an ideal world.

Kaioatey in reply to john6

My mention of yogis is based on my knowing some and feeling the radiant creativity, health and vitality that they exude. They have rejected the conformity that we are taught as children. They are committed to health and understanding. Not all monks... it was just an example of my first hand experience. They have taught me to let go of stress and struggle, reactivity and fear.

We are told many things..."this is not possible, that is not possible... there is no cure... etc etc." I reject all outward authority if it doesn't sync with my experience. We are told many things but people and agencies, and entire professions are uninformed or outright untrustworthy. You say we don't live in an ideal world. Our world is actually based on our perception and our belief system... (see Viktor Frankl). We are the ones who can make it into an ideal world... we can be the ones who unlock our minds, our hearts, our bodies, our health.

john6 in reply to Kaioatey

"Our world is actually based on our perception and our belief system.".

Hmm, not really. With many people it depends as to whether they want to live Or just exist - a big difference.

It is basically the old story of; does one wish to live a (normal) life, or does one live an abnormal life due to fear. The bottom line being is that both choices end up with the same result. You/I could of course wrap ourselves up in cotton wool and if your/my time is due........something else will get us. Having said that, I would go along with moderation of excesses and foods/drinks that are bad for us, as for stress - that can follow many people in different forms.

Ger12345 in reply to Kaioatey

Enjoyed your posts , knowing my country is an occupied country ,and most politicians are middle men for the occupiers has improved my paf 95% , i can today can think critically, democracy is critically flawed.

Hidden in reply to Kaioatey

I'm sorry but to say we choose our stress is like saying it is our fault that we have AFib and in my case other heart problems, but what about genetics? What about the environment we were brought up in?

Kaioatey in reply to Hidden

Hi Scoobisu... thank you for the reply. I am very aware of genetics (and my wife gives lectures on trauma informed care for physicians,) so I am not ignorant of the predispositions we may have for certain conditions. However, I am committed to healing and I am not willing to treat symptoms only. I look for the source of things, the source of feelings and thoughts, and behaviors. I am convinced of the power of epigenetics and our power to actually change the way our DNA is expressed if we want to. Similarly, when we become adults we have the ability to recognize the effects of our childhood, if we are interested, and make the necessary changes with therapy, or spiritual practice or whatever. I agree that there are some things we have no control over and cannot change, but I firmly believe that as mature adults we have to power to change the way we meet life, and we have complete control over our thoughts and emotional responses if we are willing to take the necessary inner journey.

A lot of what you say rings true with me. My problem is, even when people told me this, by the time I understood and accepted it most of the damage had been done.

Stress/ Distress, I can relate to both, in my personal and professional life, I thought I was coping but my body knew otherwise. Now retired, I don't and won't do stress anymore, nothing matters, life is short so thanks to my trusty pacemaker I leave stress out of my life but of course distress at the passing of loved ones etc.etc., will still visit.

Hi kaioatey

I was a footballer and never drank alcohol ever! I was very athletic and fit that I could nearly sprint a 10 mile jog! Then one holiday when I was 36 I started to drink a couple of lagers of a day for two weeks! On the way home on the plane I started feeling something never felt before which was ectopic beat! Then after a week while playing 5 a side soccer I went dizzy and collapsed! The hospital said I had the start of parasmoxil AF. So in my case alcohol started my nightmare which I have had 5 ablations , three fails one successful 9 years ago and one hopefully successful three weeks ago! My dad has a pacemaker and he suffered badly from ectopic beats when he was younger ! I presume the alcohol and inhibitory caused mine! Steve

Given the susceptibility of athletes to afib it might have been the football.

Not really because I never had it till I started drinking alcohol ?

Kaioatey in reply to Liverpool10

Hi Steve... thanks for the reply, best of luck to you bud.

Anxiety, stress and excitement produce similar physiological effects. Sometimes it easier to reframe stress or feelings of anxiety as excitement rather than the massive leap to calm.

Think of prep for foreign hols - stress or excitement? Stress prior to an important presentation or excitement as to how it will be received.

Auriculaire in reply to Bagrat

I find preparation for any hols stressful . There is something about packing that makes me anxious !

Bagrat in reply to Auriculaire

But I've found I can convince myself it's only excitement mostly.

Kaioatey in reply to Bagrat

Hi Bagrat...In my mind excitement is a form of stress, for most people life is a series of positive stress followed by negative stress. Life is stress. It's all stress. AF is caused by stress, itself is stress, and the treatment is stress... that's why no one has found a "cure"... they are too stressed to see through it all. Like the (highly stressed) medical profession gives pharmaceuticals to alleviate stress, all the chemicals are actually stressful for the system (they call them 'side effects'), but who wants to admit that. They fight stress with a different kind of stress. It's all stress until we discover that which isn't, that which is free or stress, our truth, our core, our health, our peace.

Bagrat in reply to Kaioatey

Life is fun, it is meaningful and it is fulfilling. We learn most by making mistakes and dealing with the consequences. I had issues with anxiety, I was given help. I am fascinated by human beings and their responses to life

Kaioatey in reply to Bagrat

Glad you got help... I too am fascinated with this whole "life" thing :)

I started after a 10 year marriage break up, moving house and a change onto 12 hour clinical shifts. These events happened in the 6 months leading up to my first AF episode, and at the time I was feeling in good health though I was drinking on a Wednesday and downing a few energy drinks a week as well as way too much coca cola.

Hey Jedi... I hope things are better for you now :)

Both distress and stress affect my af and aflutter.Distress when both parents died ,followed swiftly by both parents in law,plus sons partner, Mental stress through former career,and physical stress triggered my first diagnosed AF episode (good dose of norovirus)

Mind and body are interlinkedin ways we dont really understand,and it can only help to try to balance the two,I agree.

Hi Liverpool, if you click on More beneath your post and scroll to edit you can change your original post and then doing the same to your second one delete that.


cheers jean

What an interesting and thought provoking post Kaioatey. I can understand the point BobD makes about stress and distress being totally different, but surely they often both intertwine when stress weighs heavily. Think I'm going to have to sit and ponder about that a little more.

I'd like to become one of those people that have set their spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health as the first priority, and are stress free. I believe I may be on the road to this having dropped men from my life and home, perhaps men feel they are more peaceful without women too, I'm not pointing a finger at anyone.

Not being judged, or having to live up to the expectations of another person, makes a peaceful life for me and the last five years have truly been the happiest and most stress free in my life. My AF attacks are not so violent now either, but then I did have a second ablation 4 years ago and a third 2 years ago. Hmm, you've set me thinking.


Young's modulus of elasticity:

Bend it and it will spring back.

Bend it too much and it will deform

And stay deformed.

Keep on bending it and it will break . When you test aircraft wings you repeatedly bend the wings until they deform and eventually break. This then known as the life of that wing (after building in a margin of safety), and is the time at which the wing is scrapped, or a new main spar is fitted

BobDVolunteer in reply to Ianc2

Torque settings for fasteners is another example. You need to stress it to a point of deformation to prevent it unscrewing. Too much and you can exceed the yield point of the material and it will break but interestingly not enough stress and it will still break or undo itself.

My point is that stress is the action and distress the reaction and most people get this quite wrong. If we live any kind of full life we can not avoid stress but it is the way we deal with it which is important to prevent distress .

I think that afib is a PHYSICAL condition ... coupled with EMOTIONAL components. Take very good care of your body ... try to take very good care of one’s emotions and afib won’t come knocking on your door. I was diagnosed two plus years ago ... l made drastic changes in my diet, state of mind, nutrition, attention to medical appointments... l have only had two episodes ... both very shortly following initial diagnosis. Stress is simply one component of a very complex and apparently incurable condition.

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