Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and You

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Content on HealthUnlocked does not replace the relationship between you and doctors or other healthcare professionals nor the advice you receive from them.

Never delay seeking advice or dialling emergency services because of something that you have read on HealthUnlocked.

Living with AF

Living with AF

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Driving with AF

Doctors should advise a patient with AF to contact the DVLA or local driving authority but it is a patient’s responsibility to do so. In general, reporting your AF is seldom an issue unless you are prone to experiencing unmanageable blackouts or severe symptoms which could impede driving ability. If you are an HGV driver, you will need to check with the DVLA, or local driving authority, and your cardiologist whether you are able to drive and if any further tests need to be carried out.

Check the small print on your car insurance policy. Having AF should not restrict whether or not you can drive, but you should inform them of your diagnosis, and not disclosing this could render your policy invalid. If the terms of the policy are not beneficial to you, it might be time to change to another insurance company.

Official guidance from the DVLA and other local driving authorities is subject to change at short notice, so their websites will display the most up to date requirements or restrictions, including how soon you may drive following cardioversion or catheter ablation. Please check the DVLA or your local driving authority's website for current guidance.

Intimacy and AF

Anxiety about the impact of physical activity on triggering and worsening AF is common. This can lead some people to feel worried about the safety of sexual activity. Losing interest or confidence in sex can affect you and your partner if you are in an intimate relationship. It can also affect how you feel about yourself and life in general.

Having a loving and satisfying sexual relationship is safe and indeed recommended by doctors.

Sexual activity is a form of exercise, and it has cardiovascular benefits including increased blood flow, heart rate and deep breathing. All of these improve circulation of oxygen and hormones to organs and muscles. It improves the cholesterol balance and burns calories.

Travelling with AF

Find out about local medical facilities and make a list of hospital telephone numbers and addresses, and if applicable, pacemaker and device specialist centres. If you have a device fitted, it may be uncommon at some exotic locations. Find out if there are facilities for testing INR nearby.

Ask AF Association about travel insurance companies who have favourable terms for AF sufferers.

It is a good idea to carry a medication alert card or wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace during the trip. This can state your medical condition, any implanted devices you may have, medication you take, and your doctor’s contact details. Digital ID can carry a lot of information on your condition. Ask AF Association for a free anticoagulation alert card.

If you are on warfarin, take advice from your anticoagulation clinic on change of diet while travelling. Be aware of INR test centres or discuss with your doctor self-monitoring for INR while away.

Wearing flight socks (also known as compression stockings) during journeys of four hours or more helps blood flow and studies show that they can reduce swollen ankles and the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) significantly. They come in a variety of sizes and there are also different levels of compression. Flight socks are available from pharmacies, airports and many retail outlets. It’s vital that compression stockings are measured and worn correctly because ill-fitting stockings could actually increase the risk of DVT. Take advice on size and proper fitting from a pharmacist or healthcare professional. With anticoagulation, your risk of developing a clot or DVT is low and there is no reason why you cannot travel, including long-haul.

Pack more medication than you will need on the journey in your baggage in case you get delayed or in case you need to extend your trip.

Watch video: AF and quality of life

Content on HealthUnlocked does not replace the relationship between you and doctors or other healthcare professionals nor the advice you receive from them.

Never delay seeking advice or dialling emergency services because of something that you have read on HealthUnlocked.