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AFIB and anxiety
I'm 67 and experienced my first afib episode in December of 2016. Felt dizzy with cold sweats and passed out. The EMT said I was in afib and i wound up in the ER. Ultimately, the docs were able to convert me to a normal rhythm with drugs....14 hours later. I haven't had a similar experience since then, but I have experienced irregular heart beats with no other symptoms.
My problem is with anxiety. When I take my pulse and it is irregular, I start worrying about afib and it's a viscous cycle. My cardiologist doesn't think I am a candidate for ablation yet. I am on Xarelto, Cartia XT and Irbesartan. This mostly occurs at night when I wake up.
I have heard some things about magnesium taurate but don't know if it would help with my situation.
Does anyone have any comments or have had similar experiences ? Thanks, CharlieC
Edhammer, April 25, 2018 10:07pm EST
Anxiety can certainly be a problem. My mantra when I have an episode is “this is not life threatening. It is disconcerting as all get out, but it won’t kill me” How often do you have the irregular pulse and how wild is it and how long does it last?
CindyH9423, April 25, 2018 10:20pm EST
I agree with Ed. I have never been to the ER for an episode. I am on a blood thinner and I go thru the bear down maneuver and the valsalva maneuver and it does start to slow it down.
I do take magnesium as do many afibbers. I take 400 mgs of Doctors Best brand available on Amazon. I also drink a can of low sodium V8 juice where the sodium is replaced with potassium. I take a few other supplements also. I had an ablation two weeks ago and my heart has been very quiet. Its strange. Good luck to you.
Jeanamo815, April 25, 2018 10:49pm EST
Charlie, I think anxiety and a-fib can go "hand in hand" for many of us. This was certainly an issue for me There is the problem of not knowing when an episode will occur...then when one does occur, when should one go to the emergency room...how long should I "wait out" an episode, etc., etc. Some of us are more symptomatic than others. Those who are not as symptomatic may not even know they are in a-fib...or they may have few noticable symptoms. On the other hand, those of us who are symptomatic (like me) can have an episode that raises the heart rate over 200 beats per minute and stays there for a while....that is when I knew it was time to go to the emergency room. I use the past tense "knew' because after 3 ablations, I have been a-fib free for almost 4 years with no accompanying rapid heart beats. Having the ablations which has kept me in normal sinus rhythm this long made them well worth it! Some people do not require repeat ablations like I did. I still take Eliquis as a protection against stroke should my a-fib return at some time in the future....and I plan on taking it for the remainer of my life. However, I no longer have to take any rhythm or rate control drugs. So you are not alone in feeling the anxiety....and you are not alone on this "a-fib journey". You have this forum which I hope will provide you with information and support that will help you to feel better. Please keep us updated.
Wishing you the best,
(My A-fib Experience Community Leader)
AHAASAKatie, April 26, 2018 9:17am EST
Good morning CharlieC, many of us understand the anxiety issue. In fact, I would say that is one common denominator that all survivors have regardless of our condition or the event that led us to this site. I want to share this article, The Anxiety of Survival, from our Heart Insight digital magazine for you. I also wondered what you thought of anxiety management techniques such as meditation? One of our Support Network Volunteer Moderators provides a great many blogs for us and I think Jeff Breece-As FDR Said, There is Nothing to Fear, but Fear itself might be a great read for you as well.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Best Katie
DkinAA, April 26, 2018 12:53pm EST
Hi, CharlieC. My first several months with AFIB was a horribly anxious time. I have a notion that because the feeling of an afib episode is just like the feeling of a panic attack or being really upset -my heart is going nuts or skipping beats or irregular - I tend to interpret the afib feelings as upset/anxious feelings. Also, I think the more upset I felt, the more it aggravated the afib. In fact I had some episodes triggered by psychologically difficult situations that made me upset. I did find that "mindfulness meditation" or a brisk walk would help me calm down and that seemed to shorten the episode, or least made it easier to deal with. Once I was on Xarelto, that helped because like somebody else just mentioned, I could tell myself that regardless of how I felt, I wasn't in danger.
I'm not a doctor, but for me, an irregular pulse is my prime sign of afib since the Cartia which I am also taking keeps my heart rate down. You mentioned your afib happens a lot at night? Have you had a sleep study to see if apnea is involved? My EP set that up routinely and dealing with that has helped a lot, both with the afib and with getting much better sleep - which always helps with everything.
Heartfe6878, April 26, 2018 1:03pm EST
I would like to add another perspective that was given by my EP for me.. He believes that what we recognize as anxiety is part of the Afib picture. We talk about anxiety as a mental experience when he felt it can be a phsyical manifestation of a symptom of afib in the system and a part of the afib picture.... This is not negateing that we have anxiety about how , when where , and why.. Just a addition to that perspective. I use it in my life as a alarm to warm me that I have stepped over into afib/aflutter land. It is alert for me to pay attention and start my protocols to manage afib more closely.
Edhammer, April 26, 2018 1:27pm EST
That is a very interesting perspective. I suggest that too often we are prone to not pay attention to the connection between mind and body.
it gives me something to think about...
Jeanamo815, April 26, 2018 1:41pm EST
Once again I agree with everyone who has posted on this subject of anxiety and a-fib. When I was first diagnosed, I went to my doctor thinking I was having panic attacks...with an unknown explanation for them. Since I have paroxysmal a-fib....which comes and goes...I was fortunate that I went into a-fib while at the doctor's office and she ordered an EKG which confirmed that it was an a-fib episode. After that...the medicines started....first Pradaxa (I now take Eliquis after a bleed while taking Pradaxa...although Pradaxa now has a reversal agent) and metoprolol...then seeing the cardiologist...then seeing the electrophysiologist who ultimately recommended an ablation. After trying several rhythm and rate control medicines over a period of time ( I had to get a pacemaker because the medicines would cause bradycardia)....which did not work well...I had an ablation and two repeat ablations for a total of three. Since the 3rd ablation, I have been free of a-fib for almost 4 years. I do still take Eliquis as a safeguard against stroke, but no rhythm or rate control drugs. I must confess...in spite of being in NSR for quite a while, I still feel a bit anxious about the possibility of the a-fib returning at some time in the future. However, I tend to be an "anxious" person, so probably not everyone feels this way. I believe it is probably true that anxiety is a manifestationn of a-fib and that is why we may feel extreme anxiety when an episode occurs. Thanks to all who are sharing their experiences...
Wishing you the best,
(My A-Fib Experience Community Leader)
depotdoug, November 21, 2018 12:51pm EST
Everybody's nailed this subject in the bud so to speak. My Anxiety and my not-in AFIB is too much related. Yes I've taken Magnesium Taurate 200mg/X2 twice a day and it has probably more than likely protected my AFIB recurrence. But absolutely Anxiety increases can push my RIght Atria electrical system to maximum overload.
Just Yesterday i received a response from my Family Practice Doctor internal medicine specialized( whatever that means) to add Alprazolam (generic for anxiety) Rx back into my body. 0.25mg only every 12 hours.But with the caveat that it may impair my driving and fucntioning good habits. So yesterday's lunch dose was 1/2 tablet of Xanax generic then full dose before bedtime, and continuing onward and upward with standard prescribed load of 0.25mg. Yes I causiously reluctantly embarking on an Anxiety med to prevent AFIB. That's a Shock. But with 2 weeks left till AICD/Pacemaker 3 month battery life left. I'm impatiently waiting for my Device Vibratory alerts inside my upper left chest area. Am I stressed from AICD/pacemaker device replacement and probably the RA lead that is fractured or insulation damaged. Yes you Bet! Anxiety and AFIB are tied to together with a big rope, Maybe my Cryo-ablation circa April 2015 caused my RA lead to fray, fracture or induce noise. Maybe i did it profusely exercising with Bicep curls 65-70#'s or climbing StairMasters or maybe my RA lead is just tired from old age. A lot of maybe's.
I'm looking for my AICD/pacemaker "Sunrise" like one of our avid supporters Spencer says often. Before Christmas would be nice.
Keep us all updated CharlieC. Doug
Etoile, December 6, 2018 2:59am EST
Magnesium Taurate is the magnesium salt of taurine, and a mineral supplement. Since it carries magnesium so magnesium has been known for its calming properties on the nervous system which can help in overcoming your anxiety.