AF Information & Advice For Patients

Larraine -  Scotland

“My journey with AF"

21 January 2021

It seems to me that my journey with AF began quite a few years ago. In 2012 I had a pulmonary embolism which resulted in being prescribed an

 anticoagulant.  For a couple of years after my discharge I experienced what the medics called “Panic attacks” i.e. severe breathlessness, chest pain and sweating. I was told not to worry as they were “just one of those things”. Eventually I would deal with these attacks by breathing deeply and resting quietly until they passed.

I am a woman of 74 years and recently I began to experience episodes of a thumping heart, flutters, palpitations and breathing problems. After several trips to A&E, I was diagnosed with an ectopic heartbeat and then Atrial Fibrillation. I was admitted for tests and observation and discharged with a prescription for ‘Bisoprolol’ and ‘Felodipine’

I was also asked to wear a “Holter Monitor” to record my heartbeat for 24 hours.  The tablets threw my system up in the air and I experienced lethargy, tiredness and loss of appetite. I sought imm

ediate medical help from my GP, as a result of this my Bisoprolol dose was halved, which made my life easier, however, it took a short time for my body to settle down.

Following on from this I had an appointment with my Consultant Cardiologist and had an Echocardiagram, a chest X-ray and blood tests.   Together we discussed the results of my Holter Monitor results, and he told me that there is a school of thought that a majority of women are more aware of their body’s internal activity, allegedly some women can feel errant heartbeats and palpitations quite strongly when they happen.

However, many people live with AF, but are very often unaware of it, often it is discovered by undergoing an alternative medical investigation.  Who knew? I certainly didn’t. I came away from my appointment reassured that my prescribed medication is controlling my condition. 

In the meantime, I found the AF Association online and they kindly sent me some helpful literature about the condition Atrial Fibrillation. I read  that some foods can trigger an episode of AF. I had already discovered that regularly 1-2 hours after eating, my AF symptoms would show themselves with uncomfortable heartbeats etc.

I have learnt to cut-out certain foods, which cause me problems. I identified my personal list of triggers :  Chocolate (surely a good thing but I miss it!), tomatoes, mayonnaise, smoked fish, dried fruit, greens including lettuce, cabbage, peas and sprouts – Christmas dinner was very different!   and now even good old porridge has become a villain.   Making these small changes has made a difference to my life and my AF seems to be benefiting from the changes I have made in my diet.

My advice to anyone receiving a new diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation is to research the condition and contact the AF Association for support and guidance – but also, try not to worry too much.

Keep safe


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