What does Afib feel like: This might sound... - AF Association

AF Association

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What does Afib feel like

tabletphobic profile image

This might sound daft but I don't really know what it feels like. What I feel now is very different to what I felt prior to my diagnosis and pacemaker fitted. My heart rate and ecg when checked has been fine, at pacemaker clinic they said I'd had 2 small episodes of Afib, which I didn't feel. I have some strange occurrence's at times but don't really know what they are

65 Replies
BobD profile image

Different for everybody.

It is important to understand that palpitations is a term which means a person is aware of their heart. How that feels depends a lot on each individual so really and truly the only thing that matters is how and what YOU feel .

Many people are asymptomatic in that they have no symptoms whilst others notice every little tremble or blip which then generates anxiety whch generates more trembles ad nauseum.

Understand also that most treatment is only for quality of life (your pacemaker deals with the life bit) so as they say "jobs a goodun". You are one of the lucky ones if you do not know when or if you have AF events.

tabletphobic profile image
tabletphobic in reply to BobD

Thanks Bob that's useful

Geoffa1 profile image
Geoffa1 in reply to BobD

Well said. Now I am recovering well, post PVI, I have reflected on when I first had symptoms consistent with what allowed my first diagnosis.

Firstly once I had a severe issue and by the time paramedics arrived and not withstanding outstanding medical support, because I was in rhythm no diagnosis. No amount of follow up even hinted at Paroxymal AFIB!

I "think" in inverted commas I can recollect incidents back five years. My symptoms were always fatigue, feeling I had indigestion, nausea and dizzy. I had no idea these were heart related. Thought it was something I ate!

I had no idea what AFIB was and because I knew my heart was structurally sound never made a connection.

This is the devil AFIB is!

The irony might be because I had a structurally sound heart thru years of running this might have not only caused buggered knees but a deranged electrical control system.

What is the famous Churchill quote about golf!!


As above - it's different for us all. In PAF (paroxysmal atrial fibrillation) you'll likely feel it more. I know I did after being in sinus - bang - the feeling happened on the spot the second PAF started. In permanent or persistent your body might well adjust and it's something that's there but the effects are not felt as much. This is what I'm going through at the moment.

As for the 'side effects' of afib. It can make make you feel slightly breathless and certainly give some anxiety (understandable). That one's mind over matter but that's easy to say - not so easy to put in to practise. Feeling tired can be another side effect. That's for me but others may well have a completely different set of symptoms.


I don't know what it feels like, I know when I get what I assume are ectopics and pauses but no idea if that's the AF 🤷‍♀️ I also have a pacemaker but I still feel the same sensations. My brother in law was accidentally found to be in permanent Af with extremely high rate but he had no idea, didn't feel a thing.

It really is all over the place this afib isn't it

When in AF, people can feel absolutely nothing (my case). I am in AF mostly at night. At day, I am almost never in AF, but I have noticed one thing. When I measure my BP and read an excellent result (golden 120/80) and am happy about it, the next moment I notice that my small gauge is showing that I am in arrhythmia, meaning in AF. The reason is that, when in AF, blood flow-rate drops by some 20-30%, causing a drop in BP. If I am not in AF, my readings are normally 140/90 to 150/100, and it is where I feel best!

SteelHeart wrote

"I am in AF mostly at night. At day, I am almost never in AF"

I'm likely stating the obvious here. There must (could) be a connection. I find at night lying down I tend to get breathless. I've also noticed (I always sleep on my front) that leaning away from the heart helps. If I awake during the night it seems to be when I've 'shifted' postion during my sleep lying heartside.

Just a suggestion and it might not make any difference - is it worth trying a different sleeping position ? Also if this happens after eating / then sleeping this could also have an effect. I could be totally on the wrong track but worth a mention.


john6 profile image
john6 in reply to Paulbounce

Probably gravitational, have you tried sleeping [slightly] propped up?

Paulbounce profile image
Paulbounce in reply to john6

I have as it happens John but just can't fall asleep. Maybe I should try harder and stick it out for a few weeks. However sleep seems to make a massive difference to my HR and how I feel if I don't get enough.


john6 profile image
john6 in reply to Paulbounce

The other thing as others have suggested in the past, is to chock the head end of your bed up. As you say sleeping propped up (tried it) is not comfortable, however, a slight tilt might be enough. I would also think that sleeping on your "front" is likely to compress your insides thus annoy your heart, whereas sleeping on your right side gives it slight protection due to bone frame being firmer - only thoughts, John.

Paulbounce profile image
Paulbounce in reply to john6

Ty John.


Singwell profile image
Singwell in reply to Paulbounce

This would be my recommendation, which I use due to acid reflux - two house bricks will do the trick. 🤞🤞 For you Paul

Paulbounce profile image
Paulbounce in reply to Singwell

Heheh Sing. Right I'm off to the builders merchants to buy a couple of house bricks. I'll either wake up in the morning with a sore head or have had a good nights rest.

Or both 🤕


Singwell profile image
Singwell in reply to Paulbounce

Hope it was a good night then 😉

Paulbounce profile image
Paulbounce in reply to Singwell

It was Sing and I'm still coming to. I think the bandages should come off next week and the police have agreed to drop charges for attempted murder against the person who did it for me.

Beat's a sleeping pill 🤣

Maybe not !


Me too and I feel like death warmed up.

reinaway profile image
reinaway in reply to Paulbounce

I found after trial and error that sleeping with a foam wedge that went from half way down my back and 2 pillows was the best way for me. The angle is roughly 20 degrees. Worth a try?

Paulbounce profile image
Paulbounce in reply to reinaway

For sure Rein - thank you for that.


I'll have to try that

tabletphobic profile image
tabletphobic in reply to john6

Yeah, I've been on 3 pillows for years because of my stomach

Hi, Paul! Thanks for the suggestions! Yes, I have researched all the possible ways to fight these night bouts, but without any results. There is only one solution left, but I am hesitant to try it, because I know that it would be a disaster - sleeping at the table, lol. Any pressure on the chest, of course especially when sleeping on left side, is not a good idea, so sleeping at the table would prevent it, but I do not have a suitable table for now, lol. But, there is something that I must apostrophe - I can lay in bed awake, on my left side, for prolonged period of time, without slipping into AF. It can last for hours, without any bad result. But, as soon as I fall asleep, I go into AF. Some friends here have suggested sleep apnea, but I do not believe to have problems with it at all, at least I never noticed, and my wife never witnessed anything like this. Why is it as it is, it remains a puzzle...

A puzzle indeed SH ! I don't know what else to suggest. OK this is most likely a silly suggestion but would it be worth trying a different mattress ? A soft one might help ?

I'm sorry but that's all I can think of apart from sleep apnea. Not very helpful answers I know. I'll 'sleep' on it (so to speak) and if I can think of anything else I'll post in the morning - computer going off for the evening now.


Edit - just one more thought SH. I don't know what med's you are on or what time you take them. If it's in the morning would it worth asking your doctor if you could switch to an evening dose. I know I'm clutching at straws now - but you never know !

Paul, I believe to be rare bird here, taking no drugs, even not anticoagulants. I never had serious symptoms because of AF, never went to the doctors and do not want to take drugs. I was prescribed drugs for high BP, but refuse to take them either. What I want to avoid, is making more harm than use with the drugs. Taking chemical compositions during several decades must make some problems with the liver and the kidneys. Even taking the vaccine is no option for me! I am strictly against bringing chemicals in the body, even if it means that I will live shorter.

But, it is not likely to be so. From this forum, I have learned that the people with AF can last long, and for now, I have absolutely no other health problems, even with prostate not. I feed modestly, choosing what I eat, I have stable weight, I am fully capable to work and, what is very important, and people here rarely accept it, I am very careful with my physical activity. All together, I do not worry very much, I am not depressed, never anxious and enjoy my being almost 70. I wish I could share my positive attitude towards life with all of you here!

saulger profile image
saulger in reply to SteelHeart

SteelHeart. Sounds great. How do you know you have AFib ?

SteelHeart profile image
SteelHeart in reply to saulger

I had serious bout of PVCs at the age of 55. It lasted for about 2 weeks and was very unpleasant. After that, I decided to study the arrhythmia, so found this forum and started reading posts. At first, I could not believe that so many different arrhythmia really existed and believed that most of them are purely theoretically possible or maybe rarely to be found. Than, after a while, I concluded that strange feelings in my chest in the morning, lasting to 9-10 o'clock, actually were the periods I was in AF. It was followed by some strange, "sour" feeling in the chest and I would see that something was wrong, but did not know what. After I got to know more about AF, I measured my pulse in the morning, and later also at night, after I would wake up, as to realize that it was quite irregular, with a lot sensitivity to taking the breath. Whenever I would take a breath, my HR would change, mostly increasing instantly. Thanks to this forum, I made my own diagnose, without going to MDs. But, I do not think that I am a special case. I suspect that there are so many people out there, suffering on mild bouts of AF, probably mostly at night, who never come to the point to understand what's going on. My study of Dysautonomia (arrhythmia actually counts to Dysautonomia), lasting these past 12 years, have brought me to the conclusion that, especially in later age, people suffer on Dysautonomia in very large percent, maybe somewhere 50-70% of them.

saulger profile image
saulger in reply to SteelHeart

There are many symptoms and many causes for heart palpitations. I would recommend an ECG and/or a Holter monitor to diagnose the underlying cause.Please check out the many different irregular heart (ECG) patterns, which may feel the same but reflect different heart problems:


SteelHeart profile image
SteelHeart in reply to saulger

Thanks for the link, Saulger! In the beginning, I was truly perplexed with the variety of the arrhythmia, but now believe to be better oriented than many MDs. They do not understand the hierarchy of the arrhythmia, in the first place. It is because they always use the ECG readings for the analysis, without understanding the background. The whole field of Dysautonomia is poorly understood and poorly researched. If you look at the list of the disease with unknown origin, without adequate cure, so being chronic disease (ranging from diabetes 2 to Parkinson's disease, some 30 of them) all of these health problems have the same cause - the disturbance of the functioning of Autonomous Nervous System. This field is so complex, that the MDs will not come to the point to understand it in the next 100 years. When they understand it as it should be, there will no more be "chronic diseases".

saulger profile image
saulger in reply to SteelHeart

Thank you for that SteelHeart. I had a look on the Internet for "Dysautonomia" and quite a few of my past and present ailments appear on the list ! I've also had an episode of an auto-immune skin disease, so it's well worth looking into.

I find that my Afib and stomach/bowel issues seem to be related.

Thank you for that and I wish you well.


SteelHeart profile image
SteelHeart in reply to saulger

Wishing you all the best also! Cheers!

SH wrote

"I wish I could share my positive attitude towards life"

Way to go SH. Affects our physical and mental health. Not sure I agree with the anticoagulants bit - however as an adult I fully respect your decision and it is of course your choice ;-)

Have a great day.


Thank you, Paul, You too! Kind regards! P.

I always feel things more when ' resting' not so much when busy but every other day get tired a lot

I found that when I get ectopic beats it is when I go to bed. I cannot sleep on my left side or I get loads of ectopic beats but I can sleep on my right side and get only a few. If I sleep on my back which I cannot do except when taking a nap I do not get any at all. Wish I could sleep on my back, but try as I might I just cannot.


I'm with you on that one Surrey. I too find it very hard to sleep on my back. Maybe we would get used to it after time but restless nights might lie ahead (pun intended).


Sleepless nights. It is weird because when I take a nap on my back I fall to sleep within seconds more or less yet when I go to bed I simply cannot sleep on my back!!

BobD profile image
BobDVolunteer in reply to SteelHeart

Again how different we all are. My BP always went up in AF due to stress.

It does feel different with a Pacemaker. For me - I still feel quite strong palpitations once my HR goes over 140 but I’m not nearly as symptomatic. The 2 episodes I’ve had with low HR did feel very different and best word I have to describe the sensation is ‘fluttery’, feel a ‘bit off’ but can usually carry on as usual - which wouldn’t have happened prior to PM implant.

Yes before pacemaker my heart was jumping out of my chest and very dizzy when that happened, since then its like a trembly fluttery feeling, like very subdued palpitations

TP - just to say sorry for going off topic and highjacking your thread a little.

Have a lovely evening.


😊 That's fine its all useful

I did not feel anything other than a few seconds of a flutter feeling in my upper chest/ lower neck as I went into fast rate AFib typical 165 bpm resting. Asymptomatic after. I could still run at 243bpm. only knew I had something as my Garmin running watch showed the high rate.

For me it's very noticeable - fluttering sensation in my chest, sometimes a banging if the BPM are over 120, mostly a feeling of disquiet and disturbance. My brother also has AF - was never that symptomatic - now he's in permanent AF he barely notices.

Slim2018 profile image
Slim2018 in reply to Singwell

For me it is almost always when I am asleep around midnight to 2.00 am, although of late not exclusively, a couple of minor episodes before I fell asleep. My consultant has me on 100 mg of Flecainide at 9.00 pm every evening with a pip if I need it. Big big big common denominator is massive bloating for afib and ectopics. I have been wheat free for several weeks now which has had a massive effect on the bloating so await to see whether that has the collateral effect on Afib / ectopics. Also now get more migraines, but not sure if there is a connection. Oh the joys of being 65 😂

saulger profile image
saulger in reply to Slim2018

65 sounds great to a 74 year old. I, too, notice that the bloating is concurrent with the AFib symptoms. An irritable bowel, perhaps ? Check out the low FODMAPS foods.Avoiding fibrous vegetables and fruit peel may help.

Singwell profile image
Singwell in reply to Slim2018

HAH second that re 65! Might you be getting the migraines because of cutting down in the wheat? Hopefully a temporary thing.

Hello! Yes, different for different people I’m sure. For me it meant I had to sleep all day as well as all night evening 3rd day, I was aware of every heart beat and the gaps too! It felt like a little bird was fluttering inside my chest and was so much worse again if I tried to sleep on my left side. Breathless and had to even rest after 3 stairs before tackling the next 3!All this was hard to explain to my family and friends because (apparently) I looked well!!

It was so horrible and lasted for 6 months. I back in NSR now and praying that it lasts!

I hope that whatever it is going wrong with your heart then it can be resolved soon.

OMG! You felt exactly how I felt except sleeping all day. Mine lasted 6 months too and I am now back in SNR and hope that lasts. Cardioversion only lasted 2 weeks.

This site is so brilliant, not least because you meet so many people who are going through the same nightmare!😳 Mine came out of absolutely nowhere, did yours? Just woke up and it began!🥲 Are you planning on having an ablation?

Mine came out of nowhere as well, still think a mistakes been made sometimes


Yes. My Afib came out of nowhere. My tests were all normal and I have been healthy all my life except for high BP. (most people suffer with BP issues) I will never go through an Ablation. I noticed how many people on this site had numerous procedures and their Afib returned. I had Afib 24/7 most the day. Unbearable and no QOL. So after my Cardioversion failed after two weeks, I took matters into my own hands. I am into natural supplements. The beta blockers made me more ill than the Afib. So after doing my research, I learned that some supplements mimic meds. It takes 8-10 weeks to show benefits. Well after 7 1/2 weeks, I went back to NSR. It's almost one month now in NSR, longer than any med or Cardioversion. I thank God for each day that I am Afib free. Good Luck to you and I hope you are Afib free soon!

Best wishes,


tabletphobic profile image
tabletphobic in reply to Dee5165

Is NSR normal sinus rhythm and what supplements do you take for it ?

Dee5165 profile image
Dee5165 in reply to tabletphobic

Yes. It's time consuming and expensive to take all these supplements but well worth the normal sinus rhythm. (NSR)

I break up supplements 3 times a day. I was on 120 mgs. of Sotalol which was killing me and now on 60 mgs. While reducing Sotalol I gradually added the following supplements.

Magnesium Taurate and Glycinate, Hawthorne Berry, Co-Q10/L-Carnitine, Wild Salmon Fish Oil, Vitamin C, D3, and 1/2 banana per day. Supplements need to be taken 2 hours before or after meds. Vitamin D3 is fat soluble so need to have fat with it for absorption. I take at 9 am, 3 pm, and 9 pm. If you are interested you can look up these supplements and their effect on Afib and arrhythmias or I can send you amounts. Please keep in mind it took almost 8 weeks. Most people are deficient in magnesium. Does not show up on blood results and approximately only 40 % is absorbed and the rest is lost in urine. Good luck!!!

tabletphobic profile image
tabletphobic in reply to Dee5165

Thanks for that, I do have magnesium baths and Dr says I'm a bit low in Vit D so I'mm going to get some. The fish oils I use to take but being on blood thinners I'm not sure I should now, but I do eat more salmon. I'll definitely look it all up because I don't like tablets

Dee5165 profile image
Dee5165 in reply to tabletphobic

This is what I take.

I don't think Magnesium baths work in the same way. And I eat a lot of salmon but not the same as supplements on Afib. Most of the supplements below work with nerve function, mineral balance and arrhythmias.

Vitamin C - 3000 IU's (mine is 1000 IU's each and 2000 IU's is standard dose)

Vitamin D3 - (standard dose)

Hawthorn Berry - Nature's Bounty is 565 mgs. for each tablet/3 times per day

Magnesium Glycinate/Taurate or Taurine - 3 times per day (1000 total) I buy Triple Calm and Dr.'s Best High Absorption Magnesium 100% Chelated for easier digestion)

Wild Alaskan Fish Oil - 630 mgs. 3 times per day (Not sure if Krill Oil can be replaced for fish oil)

CO-Q10 (10 ml.) with L-Carnitine 250 mcg. together- 2 to 3 times per day. (Must be taken with Magnesium) and 2 hours before or after other meds if on any.

See Steve Ryan, PhD on Natural Supplements for heart rhythm problems. Taurine along with magnesium and potassium have been described as "the essential trio" for treating arrhythmias. Most of these supplements dampens activity in he sympathetic nervous system and improves heart muscle contractions. So when your heart becomes overly irritable, then add palpitations, causing stress, you feel worse. Depending on cause, with no other medical issues of the heart, these supplements should help the palpitations and heart arrhythmias. Doctors will not approve supplements because there are no studies done to prove their benefits. So Doctors only push drugs.

Hi again! We are like-minded I think! I’ve been taking potassium and magnesium supplements and see an acupuncturist once a month! I really don’t want an ablation (especially as I’m in NSR now and feel better every day!) but my cardiologist says that it always returns and because of my age and weight I’m a good candidate. I would be more ‘up for it’ if I was still in AFib, but have been out of it for quite a while now!

What natural remedies are you using


Guess we are like minded! I went to a Chiropractor since Afib affects the nerves but that didn't work on the Afib.

Supplements are time consuming and expensive to take but well worth the normal sinus rhythm for me.

I break up supplements 3 times a day. I was on 120 mgs. of Sotalol which was killing me and now on 60 mgs. While reducing Sotalol I gradually added the following supplements.

Magnesium Taurate and Glycinate, Hawthorne Berry, Co-Q10/L-Carnitine, Wild Salmon Fish Oil, Vitamin C, D3, and 1/2 banana per day. Supplements need to be taken 2 hours before or after meds. Vitamin D3 is fat soluble so need to have fat with it for absorption. I take at 9 am, 3 pm, and 9 pm.

I read that Afib can be controlled but not cured.

Check out supplements above and their effect on Afib and arrhythmias or I can send you amounts. Please keep in mind everyone's situation is different and it took almost 8 weeks. Most people are deficient in magnesium. Does not show up on blood results and approximately only 40 % is absorbed and the rest is lost in urine. Good luck!!!

Many thanks! 😀😀😀

I will look into it tomorrow! I hope you continue to stay in NSR Dee for ever…

Most definitely agree it's a different experience from person to person. I was diagnosed with PAF last June, though probably had it before then, just it was finally caught on ECG.

When the episode starts I generally experience the palpitations (varying in intensity), light headedness and neausea.

In the 24/48hrs after I can also experience some or all of breathlessness, fatigue, and chest (muscle) pain. The length can depend on the effectiveness of my 'pill in the pocket', Flecanaide. Which for me is 90% effective.

I've gone from 2/3 episodes a week to 1 every 2/3wks...that I notice anyway. I suspect I also have them in my sleep and am awoken by them and also ones that low key I feel nothing.

Getting better at dealing with them, due to medication routine, dealing with the anxiety. Currently waiting to get on a waiting list for an Ablation.

I wish you all the best.

At bedtime I noticed that my pulse was irregular. It was all night but I never felt anything but anxiety. Next day it was all right. Then next day it started again. My son took me to the ER. The tech showed me my Afib. I'm a nurse but failed to diagnose myself. Admitted for one day and meds started. They put me on amiodarone and Xarelto and continued the aspirin. Eventually had a pacemaker inserted. Everyday is an adventure.

For me I feel like I’m about to die.

As soon as it happens I start to lose colour and I get cold and sweaty.

I can’t focus on anything I need to do and everything goes into overdrive.

I need to pee loads as my heart starts racing, normally 114 / 200 bpm

Feels like my heart is on the verge of conking out on me.

When I start breathing funny the Mrs phones 999 and gets an ambulance out.

Normally happens on a Friday night on a weekly basis.

I normally force fluid into myself to try and correct it but it doesn’t always work.

That sounds awful, I did feel very bad in the beginning but not now. Is there a trigger on a friday night thats different to other nights ?

I think it’s just a combination of getting overheated, dehydrated and tired from the weeks work.This week I was set off from my hay fever sneezing which started me off on ectopics and then went progressed to AF and SVT.

Hello anyone and everyone …….I spend most early mornings reading through the latest posts on here with interest . Clearly , everyone has some sort of the various types of AF, but it is also a fact that everyone has their own levels of proprioception to them . I am always aware when I am relaxing of what my heart is doing …….this morning it has been putting out a strange rhythm that I can clearly feel in my chest , pulse and throat . I don’t feel frightened by it , as I understand what AF is and that these feelings are very common . I am due a second ablation within the next couple of months .

What I hardly ever read here which is the one thing that really worries me , is how my AF affects my every move , every day and has done for at least the last four years or so .

When I go to stand up , I sit on the edge of the bed or the chair and relax first before walking ……..I may just be going to the toilet ( nighttime wee) org going to attempt to do something like make a cup of tea and within a couple of steps I feel breathless and absolutely exhausted .

Unless I have some sort of support ,ie sticks, a Walker frame or my husbands arm I cannot walk more thats about 20 steps before I absolutely need to stop and sit !

Am I the only one alive with such awful and frustrating symptoms?

I led a very active life , until an ACL snapped , which actually didn’t stop me from continuing to ski and I am determined that next winter I will be going skiing again , knee brace on of course ! Because that is who I am …I don’t give up easily and will put up a fight to maintain some normality in my activities . BUT this AF is extremely debilitating and it seems no one else mentions this to be the case ? Please can someone out there let me know that they feel the same ……that they have gone through similar symptoms and come out the other side feeling MUCH better albeit still having to be monitor?

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