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British Heart Foundation
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Can you shed some light?


I'm slightly confused about all the terms, what the symptoms are and what exactly I have!

Been diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation after requesting a seven day monitor. I was told I had mitral valve prolapse back in 1999 after a sudden episode of scary tachycardia and then monitored with echos and 24 hour ecgs for a few years. Nothing picked up on the ecgs and nobody suggested that I have a seven day one... (one doctor even suggested that I was just more aware of my heart when I lay down..)

But the symptoms I have now are the same that I had then - my heart does race (particularly after caffeine/chocolate/alcohol/anything stimulating..) but it also feels like it is leaping about in there, it does a little 'flip' every so often, it makes me feel the need to cough as if that will stop it from messing around, I can even see my chest move from a small jump sometimes.

The doctor had put me on bisoprolol which had no effect, apart from making me sleep all the time (and want to eat when I wasn't asleep), so he has stopped that and put me on flecainide (started today). He seemed to think my heart just races, I had to explain (again) what if feels like, but I have been reading about PVCs/PACs/Flutter etc and I just wonder if I'm having any of those?!

The reason I went back to the doctor after several years of thinking it was 'just' my MVP messing around and nothing to worry about was that I had a scary 'bang' in my chest after I had walked up steep steps (Wembley Stadium) last June and decided that couldn't possibly be normal, but what was that feeling? It was like a massive thump in my heart and I had to stop and have a drink of water and felt wobbly for a while after.

I do have to be careful with exercise, knowing that if I push myself too much (especially when walking uphill) that I get the flippy feeling and too rapid pulse.

I've always been told that I was ok and nothing to worry about although I'm sure if I'd had the seven day monitor years ago they would have found what they have now and I'd have been on something already.

I have come to the realisation that I need to change my lifestyle somewhat, I haven't had caffeinated coffee or tea for nineteen years (occasional cup of tea as not many people have decaf in the house - even my family who know I can't drink the real stuff!) but I have just put up with the racing, jumping effects of chocolate and alcohol and now and then the msg in Chinese food (dreadful!) as I thought 'it didn't matter'.

So while I realise that I don't have the serious issues a lot of people on here do, I am aware that I need to look after myself a bit more. It would just be a little more helpful if I could understand if I'm having anything other than 'just' PAF..


2 Replies

Hi Jules,

I'm sorry you're being troubled by your paroxysmal AF. It must be very frustrating. You are doing a great job of avoiding the common stimulants/culprits you know makes things worse!

I was wondering if you have been reviewed by a cardiologist recently? It might be worth asking your GP to refer you back if you have slipped through the net. It would be good to be re-investigated,as medication and treatments have progressed so there may be some options available now that weren't before.

If you want to talk things through further,please feel free to call our Heart Helpline to speak to one of the nurses on 0300-330-3311. There is someone to talk to Monday- Friday from 9-5. You can also visit our website for more information about heart conditions such as yours at bhf.org.uk

I hope I've helped.

Take care,



Hi Philippa,

Thank you for replying.

I haven't seen a cardiologist for a while - my seven day ecg was passed to one at the hospital but he obviously wasn't worried enough to see me and asked my doctor to deal with it.

The doctor I see is a heart specialist at the surgery and seems to know what he is talking about, but if I do have any more ongoing problems I will ask to be referred.

As it is, the flecainide I started yesterday seems to be working already - have noticed no crazy leaping about from my heart when I would usually expect it. I've realised just how much I'd accepted it as part of my life when I shouldn't have done. I even marched to the bus stop and had no problems, so am happy so far.

Thanks for the information



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