18 year old with AF: Is there anyone one else... - AF Association

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18 year old with AF

Is there anyone one else who is 18 and suffers with AF?

My son suffered with an attack of AF 8 weeks ago and was admitted to hospital and given a cardio version as they were unable to get his heart back into rhythm.

He then had another attack whilst we were on holiday. The cardiologist put him on 2.5mg of bisoprolol but we have had to visit the hospital twice in the past week as his heart has gone into AF and his heart rate was at 220 bpm. The dr at the emergency department has now put his bisoprolol up to 5mg daily. I am really concerned as he is due to start University in 3 weeks and it is a 3 hour drive from home.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how he can control his AF.


38 Replies

Can you check out the medical facilities where he is attending college ? Are they equipped to handle afib and svt ? Ask your cardiologist for a referral and for advice. You're paying for his knowledge so make use of it. Personally, I would send him if at all feasible . If you keep him home you run the risk of making him afraid and that will limit his life. Afib does that if you allow it to. Knowledge is power in this case so educate yourself. Is it possible for him to start the second semester ? Pam


We are in the UK so we don’t pay for healthcare. The university will not have medical facilities to cope with AFib so he would have to go to the hospital if he had issues. The current hospital where we go is linked to a good heart specialist unit in London. If he were to see a specialist at a hospital near his university, I don’t think they would be as good.

There wouldn’t be the option of him starting late, so he would have to defer his place until next September, which he doesn’t want to do.

I worry how much strain these episodes put on his heart 😩


I am in the US and our health system and protocol for Afib is different. I wish I could be of more help. There are many people on this site who have had great success with their afib in the UK. I will watch with interest the replies that will be posted. I wish you and your son well. Pam


Hello there, I had my first AFIB attack when I was 22 years old, then 6 months after I had another attack 2 days after my birthday. Fortunately my heart doesn't need cardioversion to get back in sinus rythm. The first advice I could give you is to determine if there is any trigger that put your son in AFIB, mine was a HUGE amount of stress and too much sleepless nights. You also need to speak with a cardiologist to determine what is the best way to treat AFIB.


How was yours treated? Is it better now?


I had a cryoablation on November 2018 and I didn't have any AFIB episode since. Today I feel better but I was very anxious the months following the ablation. The reason is when you have AFIB and that you are not in AFIB, you are afraid of being in AFIB back... You don't know when but you are sure that it will come back and most of the times (for me) it ruined my life. Speak with others and especially with a therapist will definitely help.


Hello and welcome to the forum. Clearly we are not aware of what you know about AF but if you click on the link below it will take you to the AF Association website where you will find a lot of useful information.


Click on the “Patients” section

This will not help much I know, but it is very unusual for someone so young to suffer from AF. Generally it can happen if they are involved in extreme competitive sports where the heart is pushed to the limit or if there is some alcohol or drug abuse. Apologies for mentioning that but it important to establish what might have caused the condition in someone so young. I’m from the UK, but I sense (but obviously don’t know) that you might not be so there maybe some differences in the treatment process. The fact that your son appears to have only just been diagnosed is helpful in that it means his heart is unlikely to have significantly suffered from the recent episodes but it is important that certain tests (echocardiogram) are carried out to see exactly what is going on inside his heart. I’m sure he is getting good advice but we always recommend seeing an Electrophysiologist (a Cardiologist who specialises in arrhythmias) because they are best placed to recommend a treatment plan best suited for your son. It’s possible that they may suggest an ablation, explained in the website and if so, the sooner this is carried out the better. I hope this helps you at this difficult time and I’m sure others will offer suggestions to help your son.....


We are in the UK. He does not do extreme sports or drugs but does occasionally drink alcohol. I have been told it is very unusual for someone of 18 to get AF but I know little about it and the long term problems it causes.

Thank you for your advice

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Your reference to Emergency dept rather than A&E made me think you might be from the US. The AF Association webpage is a great source of information. Because AF tends to occur in 60 + folk, sometimes the medical profession does not always react as well as it might, but hopefully that will be different in someone of your sons age. The fact they have carried out a CV (cardioversion) suggests that he is now going to be monitored but you may have push to get things done. I suggest that you get his thyroid checked too because there can be a connection and if the thyroid is treated then the AF can also improve.


Hiya sjrbucks,

Great advice on here from everyone.

What is important to understand about AF is that it can be/ often is, all things to all people. In effect it is a hydra headed monster.

Personally, I would get it into my head that your son is not part of a freak show. Many young people manage to acquire it, many " apparently" health lifestyles get it, running and cycling at marathon/olympic level in particular, and in my case my daughter in her early 30's got it when she had two pregnancies. Once she stopped breeding no more AF .... she now indulges herself in Thai Kick Boxing.

See what I mean.

Next - I would consider genetic and lifestyle factors. Genetics first .... does either side of the family have any sort of history of cardiac and/or stroke history. Particularly stuff that cannot be reasonably explained, especially stuff that is a bit historical. Sometimes conditions run in families and have a tendency to miss every other generation.

Then consider the timing of the event - can it be associated with any lifestyle event. I note stress has already been mentioned. For me food - historically speaking - has been a trigger. For others both hot and cold, also alcoholic beverages can be triggers. With others even eating an ice cream.

Flapjack refers to an EP - absolutely essential !

How was your sons AF diagnosed .... an ECG ?? In terms of the impact on your sons heart condition ( you worry about the strain on his heart) has anyone carried out an ultrasound of the heart, can't remember what they call it ...an Echocardiogram ?? ..... this will go some way to checking out what mechanical state his heart is in.

There are essentially two components regarding the function of the heart - mechanical and electrical - bit like a car engine. Both need to be assessed, hence the EP.

Initially I'm afraid there is much faffing around -but - has to be done.

Also with that level of Bisoprolol (5mg) you should read the bit of paper in the packet in terms of side effects. Some people can't handle it, makes them tired/weary etc - others like me take it without any issues. It is usually prescribed for heart rate control, but some cardiologists prescribe it for blood pressure. I would guess its for rate control.

This now leads into another issue ..... how do you know you are having an AF event and how best to monitor it. Some AF'ers have it and don't know it, that is, they don't feel/ show any symptoms, others do. The quickest way to know if you are having an event is to take your pulse, but, then with high heart rates as your son experienced he'd be feeling pretty rubbish anyway.

There are many devices that enable an AF'er to monitor and record events but sometimes these can become a bit of an obsession if you let them take over. I use stuff but really only to monitor myself and to be able to thump my GP's desk and say - hey ho, this is hard evidence mate.

Hey that's a start for you, bit of a different take on what others have discussed but it should show you the need to educate yourselves, and expand your knowledge base to effectively deal with it all.

May the force be with you all.



It started during his A level exams so this may have been a trigger but he is a pretty laid back chap and wasn’t particularly stressed. I originally realised he had AF because I have a blood pressure machine which picked it up and we were advised by 111 to take him to the hospital.

Has had an echocardiogram and his heart is fine. He can feel when his heart goes into AF so this isn’t a problem of knowing when it’s happening. I also got him an Apple Watch so he is able to record his ecgs when he is having an episode and I send them over to the cardiologist which specialises in AF. I think his advice of just putting him on beta blockers is not the best thing and are obviously not managing it properly. It’s completely wrong timing with him going off to University 😩

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Lots of young people get it - the important step is to find an electrophysiologist (EP) - which is a cardiologist who specializes in this type of problem - please don’t settle for GP or even a cardiologist. Find an EP! He may be able to address the problem with one minor surgical procedure (frequently the case with tachycardia symptoms), or it may be a more complex, challenging condition - but you need the most qualified specialist to give you the very best advice - and even then - it took me three EP’s before I found one I fully trusted and who has helped me manage my condition. As he is young, he may be able to put his condition into remission via controlled cardio training (as I did for 30 years) but everyone’s condition is individual.


What is cardio training? Where did you find the EP you liked. Any recommendations gratefully received!


Your son needs to see an Electrophysiologist. Beta blockers not always the answer.find one yourself on the internet and ask advice.

There may even be one near uni



Sorry to hear so young to have this awful condition

I take it that he has had s cardiac workouts up

And his heart is okay ?

The next step is really to find out what’s causing it

Personally I would not have gone straight on medication

U need to find out what’s going on and medication s such as beta blockers can stop the. Vital energy getting to cells ....research

That’s only if he had a one off afib and he is not in permanent

Afib is a symptom of something in the body that’s deficient

He is young so I am not going to stand on the fence with this one on this orthodox site where many just follow like sheep what they are told not

Thinking out the box think the drug companies making money from all theses ablation meds and really it a simple problem that can be resolved

Research research look at DR rath and afib

Look at his lifestyle does he take energy drinks


Lots of caffeine

Or too much excerise causing oxidative stress

Problem with gut too can trigger certain foods

I would take my son to a naturopath nutritionist where they will do functional blood test looks at lots of markers I.e vitamins and minerals That he is lacking

I had afib and in my fifties with no cardiac hx

I refused to take the medication s it’s money making afib is NOT a disease it’s a symptoms something your body is not happy

I was lacking in many vitamins

Since taking them no afib for years

Unless u have heart disease I,e, heart failure

And so on


Please before he goes on meds’ the doctors have no idea what cause afib they are not allowed to study nutrition to a deep level for them to understand the drug companies don’t let them

Research dr Rath

Wish u well 🌸


I think it is exercise which induces his Af but they can’t expect him to just sit in his room all day at the age of 18. His echocardiogram found nothing wrong with the structure of his heart.

Thank you for the information about Dr Rath. I will definitely look at that. I just want a quick fix but don’t think there is one 😩


He does exercise but not to extremes but doesn’t take caffeine, energy drinks, drugs and only drinks alcohol very occasionally.


Yes I understand but if he has a tendency for afib then better he stops in my humble opinion any form of exercise for now

Put back the essential vitamins

And when he is better then start slowly back

If he exercises this could cause more inflammation in the body

And that’s what happens to the body when over exercise

Better to have patience now and get better in the long rather than a quick fix and constant afib down the line

I really wish u and your son well



I’m not a doctor, but what you’ve described sounds questionable to me. The beta blockers are for slowing down the heart, not restoring sinus rhythm. If he is young and otherwise healthy he would not necessarily need continuous beta blocker therapy. This might give him symptoms of low energy levels. Also you made no mention of any anti arrhythmic drug therapy like pill in pocket Flecainide which might revert Afib to sinus rhythm. But if cardioversion was used without trying anti arrhythmia medication first this would raise questions about the knowledge and experience of the medical professionals who are treating your son. Just sounds like an EP (cardiologist specialising in arrhythmia) should be consulted as a priority. Sorry if I repeating what someone else has already said.


They did give him flecainide, metoprolol (twice) and dalteparin before his cardioverson to try and put his heart back into rhythm. He has seen an EP who has put him on beta blockers but they don’t seem to stop his heart rate going up during an episode.


I had the same medication. The EP prescribed 100mg flecainide plus 25mg metoprolol when I had an episode and then told me to wait up to 4 hours (by which time the flecainide has kicked in to take a second dose of 100/25. Usually if I still had it after 4 hours it would stop soon after the second dose. So maybe the second dose was not required. But the drug takes 4 hours to get working. It goes into the bloodstream and the surge of the drug is what stops the AF. So if they did the cardioversion less than 4 hours after the first dose that would be a questionable strategy. The metoprolol lowers the pulse and is prescribed to try to lessen the AFib rate, but it can't bring it down to normal. But once the Flecainide corrects the pulse to sinus rhythm the heart rate will be noticeably lower than it would be without the metoprolol.



I just looked up Dalteparin and realised it is a blood thinner. Again I'm surprised that this was administered. To do this seems a bit excessive based on my experience. I am 64 and had my first bout of PAF when I was 40. Then it became frequent at age 59 so I started taking medication and had an ablation in 2016 and a touch up earlier this year. So it can be treated.


The issue was that whatever they gave him, it wouldn’t bring his heart rate down. His heart had been around 200bpm and was going up higher than that, for 5 hours so he was at risk of a heart attack. The blood thinner is something they give before a cardio version to stop blood clots as that could kill him. They usually give people blood thinners after a cardio version because of the risk of clots but given his age didn’t feel this necessary. They also did an ultrasound of the heart before they did the cardio version to look for clots. He went in as an emergency case, it wasn’t planned.

From what I have read from people on here, I am going to ask for them to do a EP study of his heart. Think he needs an ablation but I guess there are big risks with that 😩


Sounds like he was in good hands! Ablation is not so bad. Risks are relatively low.


This has nothing to do with AF but as a mum who’s son had bad asthma when he went to university I fully understand your anxiety,my son went and and was a six hour drive away thankfully he only had a few attacks that took him off to hospital,his rooms mates were aware and were very proactive so hope that helps he is 36 now and now wants to look after me with my AF


The bisoprolol is there to slow down his heart, so the AF doesnt put excessive pressure on his heart, so there is no need to worry about that. Read the University prospectus/website/information he has been sent, to discover what the provision for health care is there, and make sure he knows to ring for an ambulance if he feels very bad again. You are far more anxious than he is, but the problems will be much the same next year (though you and he will be more confident in knowing what to do) so much better that he goes now and enjoys himself. AF is a nuisance which he will soon learn to live with. It is not life-threatening unless he ignores the symptoms, and tries to exercise hard when it is happening. The key is to take it easy until the episode passes, or the hospital sort it out. Fear and anxiety will only make it worse, so knowledge and understanding is very important. Hope he has a great time!

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Thank you, you are very right. He is not worried thankfully. He is my baby and it’s hard enough him leaving the nest, without this happening. I have decided I am going to take him to a private cardiologist before he leaves for Uni, just to get more info and advice.

Thank you for your wise words


Sounds good, but do go to an EP (as indicated above). They are the ones who know what they are talking about for AF. This problem is electrical, and most cardiologists are trained to deal with every other aspect of heart problems, eg heart attacks etc, not the electrical problems.

Hope your mind is put at rest by the time he goes. Reading as recommended above will certainly help. How are you planning to keep yourself busy when he is away?

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Sorry to hear about your son’s health dramas. I listen to a lot of podcasts and read a lot about health, nutrition and lifestyle. You and/or your son may like to check out Dr Rudy Aujla, a UK medical doctor who was diagnosed with AF when he was in medical school so probably in his 20s. That was probably a key factor in his interest in food and lifestyle medicine.



For an Electrophysiologist see heartrhythmalliance.org/afa... and heartrhythmspecialists.org/...

Given that your son will spend more weeks at university rather than at home he ought to have a GP in his university town or city. The Universities websites give details of medical services for students. A GP can oversee his treatment, as well as provide prescriptions.

Other people have mentioned triggers. Caffeine for me is not a trigger but coffee including decaff coffee is. So are soya bean products.

You asked about a quick fix. I know of none. Ablations appear to work,sometimes.


His university is a long way from home. I would not want him to go through any procedures on his own. I also think the most specialist doctors work in London which is close to home.


I didn't mean for procedures to do with AF, but for any other ailments or side effects from medication, as well as prescriptions for AF drugs. AF in itself is not life-threatening, although it sometimes feel it is. It can be very distressing and frustrating, frustrating plans or just periods of study.

I know if I were your son I would want someone local to give the support which sufferers of AF need.


Our son had an attack when he was 13. He was at school and went to the nurse because his chest was tight and he was having trouble breathing as he went upstairs to his classroom. She said his pulse was racing and his heartbeat was irregular. The school called my wife and she took him straight to the emergency room where an EKG confirmed the A Fib. They seemed to not know what to do with him and said to see a cardiologist. Thankfully, my cardiologist agreed to see him that afternoon. It turned out to be from an NSAID prescribed for the tendinitis he had when the cast was removed from his foot a few days earlier. The cardiologist called his orthopedic surgeon. The dose was too high for him because he was quite small for his age. They calculated when it would be out of his system and scheduled an echocardiogram to make sure there was nothing structurally wrong with his heart, another EKG and put him on a 24 hour monitor 2 days later when he would not have the drug circulating. Everything was fine. He was advised to never take an NSAID again and now we know it is because he has inherited his father's MTHFR gene mutation which makes it more difficult to detoxify from drugs or vaccines. He is now 42 and has never had another episode. His 14 year old son runs cross country and as part of his athletic physical for high school he just had an echo and EKG done and it was perfect. And, he made Varsity as a freshman!


I'm going to sound like i'm off my rocker but there is more and more evidence that WIF and CELL phone emmisiions affect some folks more than others. It seems to me that more and more young people are getting issues such as AFIB of late and I would at least try to stay away from cell and WIFI routers as best as possible for a month or so and see if it helps. Worst case it doesn't help and he'll of course have missed his internet and cell. Best case is he'll see some relief. I've lost 3 people I know to brain Glioma's that were (coincidence?) on their "cell phone" side. My previous cardiologist also recently died of an inoperable brain glioma, but I do not know if it was on his cell phone side.

I am a computer technician so I have brrn exposed to a lot of WIF and other electronic radiation. I have cut down my exposure and it seems to help some. I got rid of "Smart meters" in my home, cell phone kept across the room from me at night for sleep. I am on call and need it to be alerted if a server hiccups.


Hope he finds some relief and feels better.


Does sound quite feasible. I have always made my children charge their phones downstairs, mainly so they don’t spend all night on them. Since he turned 18, I made it his decision.

His school made us all get them iPads for their studies at the age of 13 so they are constantly being used in class and for homework. I was against this but that was the school policy, so either like it or change school. Maybe this is a contributing factor. It’s all very interesting but I don’t think we will know the impact of these devices for quite a few years!

Trying to remove a phone from an 18 year olds hand is, unfortunately, near on impossible 😩.

His does seem to be exercise induced. Stopping the exercise will now cause him to be on his phone more.


Look at dr Sanjay Guptas YouTube videos You’ll learn a great deal


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