Afib: What causes an episode? What if I don't notice?
yesterday I had episodes of afib. I was just laying down when my heart started beating fast. Over 100 beats per min, What are possible casues of these occurances?
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Heart Rhythm Conditions Support Group.
@dfelix, as you get more responses and do internet searches you will find there are many A-fib triggers but what causes the condition in the first place is still somewhat a mystery. In my case it seems to be caused or triggered by an excess of thyroid hormone. I have been hypothyroid (underactive thyroid, not producing enough hormone) to I have taken either Synthroid or a natural desiccated thyroid extract. If one's TSH gets too low, A-fib can result. Although this may not be your problem, it never hurts to have your PCP do a thyroid workup and at least eliminate that as a potential problem. God bless.
Stress will sometimes bring my on. Or sometimes I wake up with it. I think each person is a little different. Try eliminating caffeine if you drink it.
I am not aware that I am in a fib at times until I take my blood pressure for routine monitoring. Is there a device l could wear that would alert me?
Hi @cadillac, welcome to Connect. You'll notice that I moved your message to this discussion about atrial fibrillation episodes in the Heart Rhythm Conditions group (https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/heart-rhythm-conditions/). Here you'll find many people discussing aFib.
Cadillac, you ask about not being aware when you have an episode until you take your blood pressure and if there is a device you could wear to alert you. I'd like to bring others into the discussion to help answer your questions, like @jimana @predictable @sal70 @karenatmayo and @sandyabbey
Cadillac, are there times that you are aware of having an a-fib episode? How long have you been monitoring your blood pressure?
Hi @cadillac. Glad that Colleen invited me to join in this discussion so we can get to know you better. I think my a-fib is much like yours. I don't realize my irregular heart beat except in two situations — when my doctor is taking an EKG and when I'm taking my blood pressure. Otherwise, I am not conscious of my heart beat. How about you? Do you feel irregular beats? Would you remain anxious if you didn't know you are in a-fib?
I have had irregular heart beats for 25 years or more, but my a-fib diagnosis came only four years ago when it showed up on my EKG during my annual physical examination. Although I had no sense of the problem, I accepted the diagnosis by my personal care physician and had it confirmed by a cardiologist. We then agreed to two medications — Carvedilol, a beta blocker to smooth out and dial down my heart beat, and Coumadin, an anticoagulant to reduce the chance of blood clots forming in my atrium and getting sent off to sensitive organs like my brain or my kidneys. Would you share with us your current medication? Martin
I take Pradaxa for thinning blood and Tiazac (generic for dilitazm ? Spelling) to regulate heart rhythm. One way l can tell that I am in Afib and Aflutter is I am overcome with fatigue and feel like I must sit or lie down. I usually fall asleep almost immediately and wake up an hour or two or three later no longer in a fib. I sometimes feel a bit weaker for the rest of the day. I believe that by the time l feel the fatigue l have been in a fib a while. Also have shortness of breath. I am 82 yrs old and had a fib for some time before diagnosis 15 years ago. My concern is l don’t want to do further damage to my heart with these a fib episodes of which l am unaware.
Is the heart being damaged by the A-fib episode?
I'm in the same boat as you. My first incidence was a doozy. I went by ambulance to the ER where I was diagnosed on 3/8 at around midnight. I suspect that alcohol was the culprit of my developing afib. Either that or smoke inhalation which compromised my lungs. Or it could be stress/worry/depression. But it came on suddenly–within two weeks after a friend's visit where we drank wine every night and one night drank too much. But now I can't even predict when I'll get an episode. After my heart being calm for two days, I just now woke up in the middle of the night in the middle of an episode. I'm now wondering if I have some sleep apnea. Cannot figure out any other reason. I was diagnosed a week ago and have spent a lot of time over the last week trying to figure out why I got it, how to cope with it, what brings on episodes, and how long my lifespan will be now. From what I've read it will cut my life short, even with drugs and intervention. I've cut out coffee and alcohol, started to walk more, drink more water, and try hard not to get anxious over anything (which means avoiding politics and some people, at least until I get it under control, if that's possible). Maybe we can check in with each other as we figure this out–trade notes. I have my first appointment with my GP next Tuesday and she'll set me up with a cardiologist. But, it is a big deal. I'm really sorry I did whatever I did to make me get this.
Dear catmom, Don't be too discouraged. You can lead a full and healthy life. Afib can be a warning to the body that you are not treating it right. It can even be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes conditions such as this, diabetes or conditions related to being overweight or a smoker can jolt a person into major lifestyle changes. Take charge of your own health.
As we know, we do not eat enough vegetables and instead eat lots of carbs in the form of bread and junk which cause inflammation in the body. Read Dr Axe to learn more. Simply changing one's diet and exercise routine can eliminate a lot of ills. I know. I did it. I overcame a serious case of Afib.
At age 46, I had Afib that was so bad that I didn't have 3 normal beats in a row. The cardiologist said he had never seen such a severe case as mine. The Holter monitor even malfunctioned! With daily walking/slight running on a treadmill pushing my heart, over a month I was able to gradually (important) and completely get off the high dose of beta blockers I was on. (320 mg of Sotalol per day) The cardiologist couldn't believe it and said it would not last. Fast forward 24 years and I have had warning signs….but NO Afib.
Having said that, I have to be very careful. As the cardiologist recommended, I must not drink any alcohol, nor eat excessive sweets (which cause palpitations and 'bumps'), and I must avoid all stimulants such as decongestants, the standard dental freezing medication, caffeine in coffee, tea, chocolate, Coke etc.. When on the rare occasion I have had a bit of coffee, let's say, a few blips will happen and I am reminded to not do that again. Carbs as in desserts can cause my heart to race.
I recommend that you take charge of your cardiac health. No one can be more committed, nor as interested in your own health, than yourself. My aunt suffered from Afib (and continued to smoke!). She was on beta blockers and had a number of cardioversions in her senior years… and she lived to 88 years old and died of old age. With a commitment to listening to and taking care of your body, you will outlive everyone around you! Pass the broccoli!
That's quite a warning!! I am having a hard time believing that my one or two glasses of wine after dinner most nights caused this. I've been a health nut my whole life, am pretty active, had low pressure (110/60 at its highest and 100/50 at its lowest), eat lots of salads and have yogurt/fruit/granola most mornings for breakfast. I hardly ever eat any meat at all, and only eat red meat when in the company of other people or when I get invited out to dinner, so drinking the wine must have been the culprit. The only other thing I did that was bad was be exposed to toxic smoke four years ago. I got smoke inhalation pretty bad and I'm pretty sure got some carbon monoxide poisoning. I was sick for at least a week after that.
But, like you say, nothing I can do now but deal with it. My afib isn't as bad as yours was. I had two days with no real occurrences but last night woke up at about midnight with my heart pounding hard and fast (84 bpm) and it didn't calm down until 4 am.
I am already trying to get more exercise even though I haven't seen my doctor yet. I have to see her before I can be set up with a cardiologist.
Thanks for the reassurances though. I'm 65–just went on Medicare!! I have a new grandson I want to see reach adulthood to make sure he's OK.
If you think of any more good advice, let me know. I'm hungry for information on this. I know already that there is no one-size-fits-all to it. Each person has a different experience, different causes, and a different prognosis, but it really helps to hear about others' experiences and what works for them. I feel at this point I will do practically ANYTHING to stop the episodes! They are awful!