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heat exhaustion and arrhythmia
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heat exhaustion and arrhythmia

I had a PV focal ablation conducted for (exercise/adrenaline-induced) PAF 3 years ago (one focus was left unattended as it could not be easily reached, although it was thought to trigger PAF once out of the 9 times the EP induced PAF on the table).  Other than occassional PACs, and several 5-15 min episodes of AF-like arrhythmia kicked up by cold drinks immediately after vigorous exercise, these three years have been PAF free. I am an active soccer player (amateur) and practice/play regularly (for the past 30+ years).  My heart is otherwise perfectly normal.  I am also prone to heat exhaustion while playing (I am now 56 years old), in particular, when the weather is hot and humid.  Last week, during a game, I noticed the symptoms of heat exhaustion showing up (sweating less, tiring quickly after short bursts of running).  Nonetheless (foolishly?) I kept playing (heart rhythm was normal).  At some point during running, PAF showed up (my diagnosis, quick runs of seemingly normal rhythm punctuated by irregular pauses).  20 hours later it self-converted (as was the case previous to the ablation).

My questions:
(1) Can heat exhaustion make me prone to the occassional PAF event (based on the PV focus known to remain active)?
(2) If heat exaustion is a likely player here, what exactly is the mechanism by which this occurs? (for example, is the autonomic tone increased such that PV focal signals travel better?)
(3) Can this be an early warning signal that I am once again developing PV focally-driven PAF and should consider another EP exam?

Thanks in advance,

-Arthur
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Hi Arthur,

Yes, states of exhaustion may cause atrial fibrillation.  When you are that tired, your adrenaline levels increase and may trigger PAF.

2. I think that is probably right, you autonomic (adrenergic) tone increases and makes you more prone to triggering PAF.

3. If you are suffer from PAF, you certainly should be followed by a cardiologist.  If you already have an EP doctor, that is a good choice.  If the occurances are infrequent, I wouldn't study you yet.  You should be on an aspirin to decrease your risk of stroke though.  At some point you may need to be switched to coumadin (again to decrease your stroke risk) as you get older.

I hope this helps.
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