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Atrial Fibrillation or Tachycardia
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Atrial Fibrillation or Tachycardia

I have recently been diagnosed with PVC's and atrial fibrillation.  I am a 36 year old female who is otherwise very healthy and the echo and stress tests came back fine. The PVC's come very frequently every day but I've been told not to worry about those.  My questions are about the atrial fibrillation.  I wore a cardiac event monitor and recorded an event that the doctor first told me was paroxysmal tachycardia and not to worry.  On a second follow up visit, he said it was atrial fibrillation and seemed more concerned about controlling the condition with medication or hospitalization if it persists.  This of course has me scared.
   My question are:
(1) Are paroxysmal tachycardia and atrial fibrillation the same thing?  As far as I can tell, the atrial fibrillation does not happen often and if it does, it lasts less than 30 seconds.
(2) Is atrial fibrillation a life threatening condition and does it shorten life expectancy?
(3)  Does atrial fibrillation worsen with age or can the problem just go away without drug treatment?
(4)  Occasionally I wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding and pulse up to 120 beats per minute.  I always assumed it was a panic attack or stress put now I wonder if this is part of my heart condition.  Could I be experiencing an arrythmia when this is happening?

Thank you so much for your time and I really get a lot out of your website.
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238671_tn?1189759432
1. Not necessarliy. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is a type of paroxysmal tachycardia.
2. In rare circumstances it can be life threatening, but usually only when there is underlying heart failure or coronary artery disease.
3. It is unlikely to just go away, and may become more frequent as you get older.
4. Absolutely. If this is the case, it is one more reason to get treated.
3 Comments
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Can you tell me if after my doctor telling me I had a Right Bundle Branch Block, should I be seen by a cardiologist?  He appeared very casual about it, but when it happens, I can feel the irregular beats strongly in my neck.  Should I insist on another appt. to see a cardiologist?  Thanks for your time!

Regards,
S. Burke
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238671_tn?1189759432
Right bundle branch block is not something you can really feel - it is an abnormality seen on an EKG. It must be irregular beats, not directly connected to the bundle branch block, that you are feeling. Right bundle branch block does not in and of itself require referral to a cardiologist, but the irregular beats might benefit from a cardiologist's consultation.
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