15 thoughts on “What Does Atrial Fibrillation Feel Like?

  1. Mine has been diagnosed as SVTs (via an EP study), not AFib, so it doesn’t directly answer your question. BUT: Since I wear an HR Monitor I always know my HR. When it goes up it does so precipitously (like from 160-225 almost instantaneously). Sometimes it doesn’t feel like anything except very fast heartbeat. Other times my hands tingle and I feel light headed. I have been taking a beta blocker before running (the only time mine shows up) for almost a month now and (knocking on wood) I have not have any incidents while doing 4-mile runs and pushing myself hard. Thank you for your blog; I find it really helpful.

      • Hmmm…..that’s interesting. And it could be that is the direction mine would eventually go. I am glad I did the EP study even though they didn’t do the ablation. It gave them a good baseline of my heart electrical activity and I would have ALWAYS wondered what was going on (and probably erroneously called it AFib when it wasn’t) had I not done the EP study.

  2. I suffered from AF. I had done a lot of endurance training and had still trained during AF episodes . I never knew what would trigger it . Tried giving up all sorts of stimulants – coffee/ alcohol/stress . But it would still continue. My few overnight stays in hospital hooked up to a moniter would give heart rates from 22 bpm to 180 bpm. Eventually the pauses between beats got to 5 sec and the cardiologist decided it was time for action . Until then I had been on blood thinners only.
    I had a procedure called ablation . It’s where they go up inside your femural artery and in to the pulmonary ventricle and perform a type of burning of the tissue. Somehow this seems to allow the electrical impulses that regulate your heart rate to go back to normal . In its simplest description it’s like the doctor puts the spark plug leads back on and in the right order. It’s been 12 months now and no episodes . Touch wood . It’s not always successful and can be done again in the hope that it works. If not next level is a pacemaker . Which wouldn’t botherme anyway . Least I know it’s going to beat in a regular manner and would allow me to sleep . And I hear you can modify the beat to allow for training .!! Just imagine running or swimming at a cool 100 bpm for an hour.
    To all sufferers out there stay positive and keep the beat.

  3. I am a proximal afib victim. Most times I don’t know if I’m in afib. If I go into afib while running I notice a drop in performance. My pace slows and if I try to pick it up I am out of breath. My Warfarin is supposed prevent clots from forming.

  4. I was recently diagnosed with atrial flutter. I do not feel it when running, but have recently just not had the endurance I used to have. I feel it most often at night, after dinner. I am caffeine sensitive and have had to cut back on coffee and chocolate, two foods I love. I use a Garmin watch but have not used the heart monitoring capabilities. I think I’ll buy a strap and start watching my rate to see if I can find any correlation to how weak I feel at times. Thankfully, I guess, I’m not in full fibrillation. When the flutter happens I feel it in my chest as an irregular movement that comes and goes for a few seconds at a time. This may go on for 30-45 minutes. My resting heart rate is about 50 so occasionally I am dizzy upon standing, particularly at night.

  5. I had an ablation for A-flutter in 2008 and a second for A-fib in 2009. I was trying to run a Boston Qualifier in October 2008 when A-fib kicked back in. I would start to get light headed then my legs would turn to lead weights. It was like no fresh blood was getting to my legs. I could jog but not run. I always wondered if my heart would heal 100% and I could try to qualify for Boston Marathon again. I don’t know if it’s because I’m just older, or because my heart never got back to 100% of what it was, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get a BQ time even under the old standards. Boston was just a bucket list item. I’m just happy I can get out and run without A-fib.

    • Thanks for your kind comment. I’m happy to hear you are still running, even if not at Boston level. I always knew I’d never qualify for Boston, even before a fib. Really slow! I would’ve had to take a full hour off my best time.

  6. I am currently experiencing a breathless attack while running which occurs sometime between 5 minutes into a run and most frequently 13-15 minutes into a run. I have been diagnosed as having asthma/COPD (June 2016) and am taking 2 strong meds to keep my breathing open. This seemed to help a lot for 2 months this summer but then I relapsed to where I was prior to treatment. The pulmonary dr says that his job is done as spiro. tests indicate I am fine…. During an attack I get a tightness pressure in my chest and afterwards during the day I feel my heart fluttering often and feel tired. When I have an attack during a run I walk and within a couple minutes feel recovered but when I try to regain my running pace I have another attack of breathlessness and symptoms as described with the first episode. I am not on a beta blocker but feel like my pace has fallen at least a minute per mile slower but feel like I am working hard. All my medical tests are great and I just had a heart cath. which was great. I have seen a cardio dr. but no mention was made of a possible afib. I feel like I need to pursue the afib path with my PC and I wonder if any of my symptoms sound familiar to your experience

    • I can’t give you medical advice but I can say I’d be suspicious of a fib. My experience – several years ago I would have intermittent episodes of low blood pressure, fatigue, lightheaded-ness , etc and was worked up rather extensively by my cardiologist including nuclear med scans and stress test. It never would have the arrhythmia while they were watching. In retrospect I was clearly having episodes of a fib. You might ask to have a Holter monitor and go out and see if you can make it happen. Good luck!

    • Hello,

      I am having the same issues. My asthma meds aren’t working and my pace has slowed drastically. I feel like I have no energy! What came of your results? I have an appt with a cardiologist next month. Thanks!

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