Sudden attack : I will try and be as detailed... - AF Association

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Sudden attack


I will try and be as detailed as possible. My day has been bearable just about, I started it with my weetabix, grapes, de caf tea,and my bisoprolol 5mg and first Apixaban 5mg. I take my Sertraline 50mg about half an hour later. I have had a headache most of the day and have done very little physically. About 3pm took my ramapril 10mg and amlodipine 10mg. I have been "twitchy" most of the day but I seemed more in control overall. I then had fish fingers, deep fried chips and a fried egg at about 8pm. Felt quite relaxed , had a small can of alcohol free lager and a few dry roast peanuts. I suddenly felt a wave of panic in my stomach area, then my heart went a bit wild but I seem better now. Any ideas?

45 Replies

Our hearts never cease to surprise us people with arrhythmias.

Eating and drinking particular things may or may not precipitate an arrhythmia.

My heart can flip flop like a fish for a few minutes and then calm down as quickly as it started. My son in law rushed to get a defibrillator once as we thought my heart was about to seize up.

You take quite a few BP tablets so I presume you have very high BP. Is it under control and what is your pulse count?

Grigbey56 in reply to Palpman

Hi, I have had high blood pressure for decades and was too stupid and stubborn to reduce it naturally but since becoming afib a month ago I have had to take the extra tablets. My pulse used to be around 60, now when relaxed it's 70-85. The anxiety is the killer, just can't escape the trap. The random panic is new to my evenings, have been able to have a takeaway curry and a couple of beers on a Friday, worrying about tonight already. Thanks for replying, keep safe.

Buffafly in reply to Grigbey56

No curry, no beer, naughty 😯 🦋


Well if I had had that meal at 8 pm my guts would have created hell with my heart - for sure. But that's just me.

It may not be food in itself that caused it but some ingredient. Either way about 10 years ago I learned of a nerve in the body known as the Vagal or Vagus Nerve. It is a significant nerve about which little is truly known. It's a master controller of many organs in our bodies ........ most notably the heart and the digestive system. Its like an information superhighway between the brain and the heart and the gut. Do suggest you spend a bit of time reading about it. If nothing else, and if you are in UK and having a bad weather day, it'll while away a few miserable weather hours 😃😃


Grigbey56 in reply to carneuny

Lol every day is a bad weather day here but that's how my mind works. I have heard of that nerve but what can you do about it even if you know? Thanks for your time and care.

carneuny in reply to Grigbey56

Well, the process for me was simple, and I have been fortunate compared to some. Back in the day ....... I ate, main meal in the evening, then an AF event would occur either just after a few hours up to say about 7 or 8 hours. During the day I would experience massive, massive and painful bloating which would be the hit man to get me into AF. Also burping, intestinal gurgling and diarrhea. All at random and in no particular order or sequence. Saw GP who organised blood tests to cover IBS and Coeliac Disease - came back all clear. I was offered more intrusive tests but declined. Instead I consulted a Nutritionist. My GP didn't seem to grasp my Vagal Nerve theory.

The Nutritionist prescribed me a course of Probiotics. Then advised me to go gluten Free and Wheat free and advised I keep a food diary ( almost a track and trace event 🙂).

After all these years I now have highly controlled AF events, partly due to medication and partly due to diet. I now have a massive range of "can't have" foods from onions and runner beans to baked beans to Pork with Crackling to Duck soft cheeses ( but hard cheeses are OK). It took a long, long time for the diet to impact but eventually I had only 1 AF event between April 2015 and February 2018. Have had one event since and increasing degrees of very fast heart rate, but not long lasting. One must be careful not to get into a bubble and think of food as food solids - some people can experience dramas with a range of drinks, (both hot and cold), alcohol and soft drink and tea/coffee. Some even with Ice Cream

I have been added salt free for over 2 decades and added sugar free since the diet came into my life.

I have to say whether my vagal nerve was just plain dysfunctional of its own free will or whether it experienced inflammation from food I cannot say for sure - I suspect the latter.

Hope this helps you understand a bit more.


momist in reply to carneuny

Sounds similar to the road I went down about fifteen years ago, long before I started with AF. I'm now gluten free and wheat free, and with a list of foods to avoid. I was tested negative for coeliac disease. I mainly avoid fat or fatty things. Life was difficult until I got control of this. Now I can cheat a little and enjoy treats every so often, but always pay the price later.

carneuny in reply to momist

Exactly right momist ......... I do the treat thingy too ...and often pay the price later. not always. But quite often.😂😂

I have read (but you should double ckeck) that sitting with a full stomach can press on your vagal nerve and trigger a jumpy heart. I have felt it a couple of times. If you carry a little weight down there it may not help. Now I walk for an hour after dinner.

Grigbey56 in reply to jwsonoma

I am a big bloke (19 st 9) but was heavier in the summer, 23st 11, anxiety weight loss 😭

momist in reply to jwsonoma

My motto: Exercise is ALWAYS good.

Lots of sugar in the alcohol-free lager???

Would like that to be a valid excuse for drinking.

I think you're in the fortunate position that lifestyle changes can make a big difference. I suspect your weight is behind both the blood pressure and AF. Reducing weight should help both. Also moderate exercise can help a lot. Exercise outside (e.g. walking or cycling) also helps anxiety, particularly if you can do it with friends.

Grigbey56 in reply to MarkS

Part of my problems is having absolutely no friends. The only other men I spoke to were at work and I'm off now. My anxiety is like a coiled spring waiting to pounce whenever I drop my guard and I hate the waiting for medical help both cardiac and mental.

Hey, you do have friends now, us here. Also don't forget that we have trodden the path you are on now, so know exactly what you are going through. I've had AF for 15 years and I can tell you things do get better.


MarkS in reply to Grigbey56

Perhaps you could try a local walking group, that would kill two birds with one stone. You would get some exercise, meet people casually and as they meet regularly, it would add some discipline to your timetable, which I always find helpful. If you google walking groups for your area, you would probably find dozens.

Pretty much as Carneuny said - given what and when you ate - my guess the food, the alcohol and the timing.

Grigbey56 in reply to CDreamer

I didn't have any alcohol, it was Heineken 0.0 lager.

BobDVolunteer in reply to Grigbey56

To be clear about this alcohol free any drinks are just as bad if not worse. They are made the same way as normal and then have the alcohol removed by an osmotic process so all the nasty chemicals which cause the problem remain. Some of the worst hangovers I ever had were on alcohol free beer. AVOID!!!!

How much exercise did u take?

A cardiologist once instructed me to walk for 30 mins every day

I personally find it a really big help with managing anxiety.

Grigbey56 in reply to Guitar335

I didn't exercise at all yesterday to be fair. I feel so physically drained with a heavy pressured head, hissing in my ears, headache, twitching head because of my anxiety. I was actually feeling a bit better until two days ago when these random rushes of dread happened, is that causing or caused by the afib?

Guitar335 in reply to Grigbey56

It sounds like h may be in a bit of a circle there with your AF feeding your anxiety and your anxiety feeding your AF

My only real tip is a boring one. Lead as healthy a lifestyle as u can. Exercise, no alcohol, fresh food, no processed food, minimal sugars, get a good bmi, drink lots of water & sleep lots. I genuinely think that helps me.

I thought there would be some interactions between your meds or some may increase QT with Sertraline but thankfully found no problems.

Paramedics are often called to restaurants after men with large bellies have eaten too much and swilled too many gassy beers.

The extended abdomen pushes into the chest cavity and irritates the heart or vagus nerve and causes the heart to react by going into tachyarrythmias.

The reason I asked about your pulse rate is that Sertraline taken while in bradycardia can cause Torsades de Pointes or bad VT.

Grigbey56 in reply to Palpman

Sorry but I'm no doctor lol, what is QT, bradycardia, Torsaides de Pointes and VT.

Palpman in reply to Grigbey56

QT is the depolarization and repolarization period of the ventricles that is measured on the 12 lead ECG on leads 11 and/or V5.

If this period increases to over a certain time argued to be above 480ms then it can precipitate a dangerous arrhythmia called Torsades de Pointes. This normally causes one to faint momentarily and return to normal sinus rhythm (nsr) when waking.

This can also lead to Ventricular Tachycardia or VT that normally proceeds to cardiac arrest.

This is typically seen with football and rugby players that get heart arrhythmias when in action. They tend to have congenital LQTS (Long QT Syndrome).

Bradicardia is a heart beat below 50 that can also increase the QT period to over 480ms if one has inherited the gene or if one takes tablets that also increase this duration.

I hope this explains the abbreviations and do ask if not too clear.

Grigbey56 in reply to Palpman

Gulp, wish I hadn't asked, anxiety up now. Because of my current mental state I really think I'm not going to make it, I can't stand the thought of the rest of my life being dominated by this bloody rotten disease. I m just not strong enough that is it and I am so sorry.

Palpman in reply to Grigbey56

Sorry if I upset you but this is not a disease at all. I often wonder if a heart with anomalies such as AFIB or AFlutter and ectopics and palpitations is replaced with a good heart if these anomalies will persist.

There are many members here who have had these conditions for most of our lives but are now being helped with new technology and drugs. It is more of a quality of life thing rather than fear of death thing so hang in there with us.

Sorry to hear your news. I can't believe the things you ate yesterday, they were probably all full of additives. May I suggest a few alternatives:

Roasted vegetables, place an assortment of vegetables on to a tray you have preheated in the oven with a little oil. Slice some potatoes very thinly (no need to pre cook), add onions, some red pepper, Carrots - cut into sticks, parsnips and any other vegetables you would like - I guess some frozen ones would be fine. It's important to spread the veg out on the tray or they will go soggy. I did this recently on the advice of a friend and thought it was going to be tasteless, but it was lovely. Small veg will cook quicker so add these a little later than the potatoes.

Baked Salmon on a bed of onion with sweet potato chips. Cut up the sweet potato into chip sized pieces, place onto a pre heated tray containing oil and put into the oven, cut up a small onion and place it into a dish with the salmon on top, sprinkle with dill (optional), cover and put into the oven, take cover off after 15 minutes and add some small whole tomatoes and put back in the oven until the sweet potato chips are cooked which will be once they are soft.

I usually put my oven on around 190-200 for just about every meal I cook.

Snack on unsalted mixed nuts (I buy mine in Sainsburys in the orange pack, think they're the best tasting) and fruit when needed, bananas are quite filling and are full of goodness.

Please try to get out for a walk every day, it will make you feel so much better. Perhaps drive out into the countryside or to a nearby park. As others have suggested, losing weight will be the main thing to help reduce your AF.

Oh yes, you can have a nice roast chicken dinner and when you do, make two so that you have one for the next day. I make my roast potatoes smaller to fool myself into thinking I'm still eating lots of them.

Please avoid products that contain artificial additives (fish fingers), they will set your heart off into it's irregular beating. Alcohol in any form is known to do the same. You are in charge of your life, you can change it or continue as you are - be strong.

Best wishes


Forgot to say add a little oil to the onion under the salmon.

I m still lamely trying to come to terms with what has happened to me over the past three months, I am suffering from anxiety and depression which came first but developing this has completely floored me. I am struggling to get through each day and don't think I have the strength or will of all you brave people here. I m very sorry for being so weak, I always knew that my fears would destroy me in the end.

We are not all that brave. We have all been anxious and depressed about our condition especially as attacks can be so random. Many of us have gone for various periods without any afib only to have it come crashing back like an unwanted unpleasant guest at a party even after lifestyle changes. Many of the people here have other health problems to cope with as well - some of which are worse than the afib .But you can make improvements to your situation by changing your lifestyle. If you insist on feeding yourself rubbish ( which is what the meal you described basically is) and drinking gassy drinks of any kind you will not get better. You cannot continue as before - you have to make changes. Jean's meal suggestions are not difficult to prepare and will actually taste a hell of a lot better than fish fingers. Give them a try . Eating proper food really does help to make you feel better overall as you are suppliying your body and your brain with the nutrients it needs to function. Nobody can be long term healthy eating a diet of junkfood.

"All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players.” The meaning of this phrase is that this world is like a stage show and all we human beings are merely actors. That statement is so true and we can go out and perform any act we choose, be it happy or sad.

AF is not the end of the world trust me, I've had it for 15 years. You are entitled to feel a bit down right now as AF is all fairly new to you, but there are far worse health conditions you could have had, cancer, Parkinsons, motor neurone disease, a stroke, losing a limb - the list goes on. I've said this before on here and I'll say it again, I once met a man who had half of his face missing and I went faint with the shock. How lucky are we to just have AF which is very rarely life threatening and we still look normal. The way you are feeling now is not how you will always be if you can manage to change your diet and exercise more. You say you have already lost some weight, well done what a great start to your new life.

Are you taking note of what people on here are saying to you? We really want to try to help and lift your spirits, we care and are passing on things we have learnt over the years.

You will feel better soon, because that's what we all eventually do and I believe that underneath you are really a strong person. Look how far you've come already by opening up on this forum.

Sending a big, healing and spirit lifting hug your way.


Hylda in reply to Grigbey56

I’m not brave! I turned down an ablation out of sheer terror. I’m 77 and not ready to go yet, so I’ve lost weight, upped the exercise, taken the tablets and finally have my life back. Of course I could have an AF episode tomorrow, then I’ll just have to try harder!

Yeah, good one Jean. 😊😊


😱 you started well, what happened?! I suggest you get the Michael Mosely 8O0 diet book (written by his wife actually). And I agree about the exercise. You just have Adrenalin rushing around with nowhere to go so use it up walking. Even better, borrow a cute dog and people will want to chat - at a safe distance of course ☺️

Some anxiety drugs help for a short time and then they make the anxiety worse. You should read the drug sheets for the drugs you are taking. Doctors can over prescribe and negative drug interactions occur. One goal would be to find a Holistic doctor to guide you.

People generally do not realize that they do not need to listen to their brain. You can tell it to buzz off when it is pointing you in the wrong direction. You can reprogram it but it takes time and effort. You are listening to a negative nelly brain.

Decide what you really want in life, take control of your life, get some help from professionals or friends; or, “do what you do now”. The choice is yours to make which is the challenge and you should take the “lottery” option. You can go up from where you are now. People on this site will cheer you on.

One baby step at a time. Begin now!

Often people who work and have a dog would like someone to walk their dog, especially for free. Offer someone. There are two answers Yes or No. Eventually, someone will say yes because you will get better with your sales pitch. Have fun doing it! Dogs can be a positive influence, even more so if you are not the owner with all the responsibility and expense. Watch some videos by Caesar Milan, the dog whisper, to learn about dogs.

Hiya Grigbey.

You wrote

"I seemed more in control overall"


"I am a big bloke (19 st 9) but was heavier in the summer, 23st 11"

There's an old saying

.......The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle......

You are getting there. Well done you for the weight loss. You are going through the struggle but you are getting there. I just know you'll do this.

Keep it up Grigbey - small steps make a difference. You are already taking them.

Great news.

I really hope you have a good weekend.



I feel for you. Books on tape can really help solo exercise. I do books on tape and it takes the monotony out of exercise. I have been doing the same 4 mile route for 25 years and a good narrative makes all the difference. Your weight is certainly going in the right direction. Life style changes can change your life.

Fish fingers and a fried eggs, no matter what you do weight wise that stuff will keep your arteries clogged.

My brother was diagnosed with 45% blockage and he went on the Dr. John McDougal low fat plant based diet with his wife who had been diagnosed with beast cancer and he did an IronMan after 5 years. My wife and I go through 15-20lbs of potatoes a week and I walk an hour a day. My BMI is 22. Here is a good link on diet:


Hi, I had my first episode of AF 18 years ago. I also have anxiety which has a big impact on my life. I have had CBT, which has helped me cope a bit better, but I know sometimes the anxiety and panic can be overwhelming. As so many have said , lifestyle changes is what will help. You have made such a good start with your weight loss. I would like to offer a bit more advice, it might help. Make a list of 3 things you think will help you , and then try to tackle one of the things on your list. Write down how you are going to achieve it and then set about doing it. Don't overwhelm yourself with trying to do everything at once,.When you feel you have achieved one thing acknowledge your achievement and then tackle the next on your list. Also do what you can to distract yourself from any whirling thoughts. Anything that you find helps you. Be kind to yourself. Everyone on here is so helpful.

Best wishes Kath

So sorry you are going through this difficult time. The lovely people on here totally understand the fear and anxiety that AF brings, we've all been there.

The positive thing for you is that there are lots of ways you can help yourself if you follow the advice on here. Don't be shy about posting on here, the support you will get is fantastic and has helped me enormously since I first developed AF.

NI too have lost 4 stone and feel so much better, I'm no longer obese, still overweight though, but working on it, as I'm sure you will continue to do. Following a plant based diet works well, make treats very occasional. My last dose of chocolate was in August, planning to have some more for my birthday in December.

I strongly recommend having a pet. The therapeutic benefits are well documented. I have 2 dogs and so I must go for a 3 mile walk every morning, they expect it and I can't bear to disappoint them. You also get to chat to other dog walkers. Stroking a pet helps to reduce anxiety and also blood pressure. They provide companionship and love and make you feel better. If you can't bear the thought of a daily walk, get a cat instead.

Most of all, continue talking to us on here, it will help you get through this.

Grigbey56 in reply to Ecki

Hi, I have had to confess that despite the lonely sounding posts I am ashamed to admit I have a lovely family around me as well as a cat so should be grateful for my good background. I m in whinging mode today I think, sorry for that to all of you brave sufferers.


I think you have had great advice from some lovely people on here.

I can only add if you feel lonely and the task of getting started on a better health programme seems daunting think about getting a four- legged friend. If taking care of a dog seems too much get a calm affectionate adult rescue cat. They are reassuring to live with and will calm your nerves . It will also give you a project and something else to think about apart from your worries. You can talk to them too.

I have rescued 2 dogs and 2 cats. When I'm in Afib they help make me feel less anxious.

Of course perhaps you might be allergic or not feel comfortable around dogs or cats or feel not up to the task of the responsibility of caring for an animal.

Being on this forum is already a good start ( it has reassured and informed me - I don't know anyone with PAFib but now I do even if if they are virtual people)

Wishing you all the best.

Grigbey56 in reply to Lilypocket

Hi, thanks for your time and care, I hate to admit that I am not living alone, in fact I am lucky in that I have a wife and two grown up sons as well as a cat so should be in a better position to come to terms with my new illness. My biggest problem is remembering how I used to be or waking up from dreams where I am "normal" and realising what my life is now. I feel like I am being punished for my actions especially my younger days. Looks like I'm having a sad day after yesterday's reasonable pragmatic mood. Aka whinging mode 😳.

Yea, There's something about eating late in the evening as seemingly filling up the stomach after 7 pm can cause problems as you mention. I remember I attended the A&E late one night with severe chest pains and all this was attributed to eating in the evening. Its something to do with the stomach beginning to wind down later in the day and when food is eaten it has to work twice as hard thus causing problems. It is as simple as that. I have the last meal at 5pm and now all is well. Thank Heavens. Good Luck.

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