Triggers ?

I have seen that various members have found a trigger to their AF.some mention a large meal might bring it on.I'd be interested to know if my trigger is experienced by anyone else.The start of an AF episode with me is almost always. when I am asleep and is it a coincidence that it also happens when I turn on to my righthand side ? Usually OK when I sleep on my left hand side or on my back. I wake up with my heart racing up and down,giddy and generally feeling very ill and that will last on and off for the next few days. The first occasion I had it I was diagnosed with labyrinithitis ( severe vertigo )despite not having an ear problems and that diagnosis lasted for six months as no AF was ever caught on an ECG until I had a Holter monitor fitted.


9 Replies

  • I have read many posts on various forums on that. Many believe that sleeping on their side triggers the AF. 95% of the time my AF started when I was awake, I've only had a few that began while sleeping. Have you had a sleep study done? They have tied AF to sleep Apnea and that could be a trigger for your AF at night. Here's an article on another site about it.

    About feeling ill for a few days... Mine always did that. I have a blood pressure cuff that detects irregular heart beats and during an attack my blood pressure would drop very low because my irregular heartbeat was not pumping much blood. For about 6 to 8 hours my body was not getting much oxygen. I felt very bad during the attack and after it was over I felt horrible for about 24 to 48 hours.

    Many cases of AF are only caught by wearing a monitor. I was having a very severe attack 13 years ago and actually went to the hospital because I didn't know what was going on. So they caught it on the ECG.


  • Hi Tim

    Very interesting..Before I knew I had AF I would occasionally wake at night with a gasp and have to take a deep breath to get oxygen in my system.Perhaps sleep apnea is a problem.I'll mention it next time I see the cardiologist.Something else to consider !

    Thanks very much for the info.


  • That was one of the first things my EP did. They scheduled an apt for a sleep study a few weeks after seeing them. She told me that there was a strong link between sleep apnea and AF.


  • Like Tim said, there is a strong link between sleep apnea and AFib. Also, when lying on the left side, it brings the heart closest to the chest wall (this is why they place you on your left side for the echocardiogram) and the pressure against the chest wall can trigger that too. My first episode ever started when I got into bed and turned to my left side. I have not been willing to risk sleeping on my left side ever since.

  • I have had AF for 11 years and the majority of attacks have happened when asleep. They always wake me and I find it impossible to sleep whilst in AF. I have been in all sleep positions at the onset but find I am most comfortable sleeping on my right hand side as I am less aware of my heartbeat. The sleep apnea link is very interesting as I often wake with a start at the onset of an attack. I take Dilzem, Losartan and bendrofumethiazide for blood pressure and flecainide 50mg twice a day and aspirin. I always take myself to A & E if the attack lasts more than 5 hours as this was suggested to me by my practice nurse.


  • Hi Brenda

    Thanks for the reply.Very interesting to know you are very similar and yes it is impossible to sleep whilst in AF.I've come off aspirin now.I've had been taking it for 6 weeks and it was starting to really disagree with me so now just have Warfarin (had a TIA 6 wks.ago and then a minor stroke a week later all a result of AF) also take Bisoprolol 5mgs..I normally have low blood pressure although it does go up significantly when I have AF. Very interesting that there appears to be a link with sleep apnea because I have wondered if there was a problem for a couple of years. My husband has said in the past that I appear to stop breathing and then kick in with a gasp,I just assumed it was "one of those things" and never bothered to do anything about it. How stupid am I ? I am on the waiting list for an ablation. I will follow up on the sleep apnea thing with the cardiologist / electrophysiologist and if I receive any info.I'll pass it on.


  • Last week at the Edinburgh "Science festival" I attended a show given by doctors and specialists from the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary sleep research department. discussing the latest advances into sleep disorders.

    The causes and dangers of APNEA were discussed at length and a video of patients with the disorder shown.

    Seems what happens is the airway slowly narrows and eventually closes blocking air into the lungs.completely and this point the patient gasps for breath and wakens.

    The instant just before wakening blood pressure shoots up fallowed by an increased pulse rate.

    APNEA in some instances result in a heart attack.

    Patients who are over weight are very prone to developing the disease.

    APNEA is common with snores.

  • Interesting you should ask just after I have had an episode! I suspected I had a mild urine infection, last night woke needing a visit and feeling very strange, hot and sweaty but shivery, and stressed. After a while and another loo trip I thought I'd try to relax and sleep, turned on my left side and bump! AF..... So infection + lying on left side, also I suspect working above my head as when pruning climbers!

    Don't want to be too alarmist, but my husband had an abdominal aortic aneurism which was caught just in time and although it was suggested he had a congenital weakness I am convinced sleep apnea had a part to play so please take care....

  • My brother does not have heart problems, but when sleep apnea was picked up while having tests, they reported it to DVLA. and lost his licence for 6 months, had great difficulty in getting it back.

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