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Atrial Fibrillation at 27

Hi, I am a 27 year old healthy male. I work as a physical education teacher and consider myself to be relatively healthy. I had my first episode of atrial fibrillation at the end of May. I had to be cardioverted to restore it to normal. Then about 3 months later at the end of August I had another episode of atrial fibrillation and had to be cardioverted again. It is the middle of November now, and I had to be cardioverted again yesterday for the 3rd time. My symptoms were all different all 3 times. The first time I had only leg pain, 2nd time I went flush and palpiations and a racing heart, and the third time I had mild palpitations. My holters (2) of them were normal, my echocardiogram was normal..no alcohol or drug abuse.I dont drink caffine..I just dont get it..any one else in the same boat? I am wating to see an electrophysiologist for an EP study to see what is going on. My hope is that this can be corrected quickly. I am taking metroporal and asprin daily. I am way too young for heart problems, and the stress is what is bothering me most! Can stress and anxiety cause Atrial Fibrillation??
34 Responses
Avatar universal
It is not uncommon for people that are in phyically good condition to get AFIB.  There are a number of basketball players in the NBA that have had the problem.  Stress and axiety can percipitate occurances, but they are not the underlying cause.  The underlying cause is something wrong with the way the electricity is conducted in your heart muscle.  

I am 52 and have been a runner most of my life (still run).  I got AFIB when I was in my mid 40's.  Tried different meds to keep me in rythmn but nothing worked for very long.  I went to see a doctor at Mayo and he recommended an ablation because he was sure that the cause of my AFIB was coming from my pulmonary veins.  This is a typical for athletic hearts.  I had an ablation four years ago and it worked.

An EP study will determine the cause and whether an ablation would be successful.  I know that at age 27 this is hard to take.  But remember you do not have heart disease.  AFIB is treatable.  Hang in there .  I know it can be very frustrating.  I tried meds for 3 years before I had the ablation.  You think you do everything right and then something like this pops up.

I am in a study at Mayo to see if heredity plays a part because my Mom, sister, and brother have had AFIB or flutter.  My brother had an ablation this year for flutter.  My sister doesn't have it often except when she has an allergy reaction.  My Mom, now deceased, had to be on a pacemaker later in life.
61536 tn?1340701763
I think dquenzer answered this perfectly, and I don't have much to add other than to agree.  I have SVT, which is also a rapid atrial rhythm, and stress does contribute but is not the cause.  I'm a healthy young woman, in good shape, eat very healthy and abstain from all drugs (even OTC stuff) and I still get SVT on occasion.  Atrial arrythmias don't seem to care how healthy we are.

Best wishes to you in getting this figured out and under control.  You are a young healthy guy, and I think you're going to do just fine with proper management of the symptoms and episodes.  While frustrating, it is something you can treat.

Happy holidays to you.
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for your answers and comments. I think that I will opt for the ablation procedure  right away over the meds. I would rather get it taken care of once. After reading through the many postings and websites..everyone says the same thing..the meds dont work. I hope I am a candidate for ablation.

I am just crossing my fingers and praying that a pacemaker will not be involved at all. I hope that they can just find the affected areas on the atria and use the catheder to ablate them.

dquenzer: how many ablations did you have to have to correct the afib? How often did you go into Afib before the ablation? Its really good to connect with people with similar experiences. At first I was freaked out..but am more calm about it now. Its weird, when I read the info about afib on the internet I read differing views. Some say that the ablation works in 80-100% of the people who get it, and others say that it only works in 20-30 % of the procedures. Not sure of which facts are actually true.Thanks again for your support.
Avatar universal
Hey, you need to call me...we have very similar stories. I am 34 and am also considering an ablation for afib very soon. I have been conversing with several folks on the Yahoo Groups , A-Fib site that have helped me come to grips with this pain in the *** condition. One guy that I have been talking to is 28 and has given me alot of advice. He lives in Orlando, I live in Dallas, how about you? I wish I could find a whole network of 20 and 30-something folks battling this. Feel free to email me your # (***@****) and we can chat about this some time. It seems to make me feel alot easier, the more younger people I talk to that are in this same, rare boat.Below is my original post:

Hello to all,

I am new here and relatively new to A Fib. I am a 34 year old male with no history of heart disease. I am healthy otherwise just very slightly overweight. I have also been very active/athletic most of my life. I have never smoked, used to drink heavy in college but now am just a social drinker and never used any illicit drugs.

So here goes my story...

I had a brief bout with panic attacks around the ages of 19-22. I did have palpitations back then but they seemed a lot less infrequent and went away when I was on the meds. So the Drs. just chalked it up as anxiety. I took Xanax for awhile and then turned to Klonopin which seemed to completely cure my panic disorder. I had EKGs back then that were completely normal. So I went on living my "bulletproof" 20's with no more problems.

Fast forward to my 30's...

4 years ago, I started taking the deadly OTC weight loss stimulant, Metabolife. Big NO-NO! I noticed the increased palpitations; especially at night when I would lay down to go to sleep. I also noticed that any time that I would drink alcohol excessively, I would get palpitations from that as well. Still taking the Metabolife with effedra, I went in to see my family Dr. and he immediately told me to throw that garbage in the trash! They did an EKG in his office which showed that I was in AFib. He then sent me to my first Cardiologist appt. and they made me do an echo stress and Holter for 48 hours. Heart structure looked great and Holter produced only a few skipped, premature beats but still in NSR...I was bulletproof again!

2 months ago, I went in to see the family MD again and mentioned in passing, that I was again having palpitations at night. I also explained to him that I had developed a Starbucks addiction over the past few years and had been drinking A LOT of caffeine. Keep in mind, during this entire 4 year hiatus; I was jogging 3 miles regularly, playing full-court basketball in a church league...no other symptoms other than night palpitations. No fatigue, trouble breathing, etc. He said cut back on the caffeine, did another EKG, yep...back in AFib.

So new trip to the Cardiologist, prescribed me Digoxin, this time a 14 day monitor, and echo in his office. Heart again looked good just had a very slight enlarged left atrium 44cm. but looked normal. The monitor results however, showed that I was pretty much in persistent AFib the entire 10 days that I wore it. His thoughts were to do a TEE and cardioversion...I PANICKED!! What? I have 3 small, beautiful kids at home...you can't shock my heart! I was also freaked out because of my age. It's so rare for folks in their 30's.

So it was on to the EP which they too concluded, cardioversion would be best right now given my age, lack of symptoms, etc. He prescribed me Coumadin to get my INR to 2, which I am currently on. Also a calcium blocker and high blood pressure medicine which I have never had hypertension but he said it was good for rhythm as well (forgot the names of these off-hand). Cardizem is one of them I think? So I went from never taking anything other than my anxiety pills for a brief time to 4 heart drugs now...NOW I'M REALLY FREAKED OUT! I have cut out all caffeine in the last few weeks and have begun a diet to go from 230 back down to 190. But, I am too scared to exercise because of the condition even though they said moderate cardio is fine for now.

I am going to see another EP for a second opinion on Monday and I am just really terrified by all of these recent, turn of events in my life. I am to the point now where I have calmed down somewhat about the cardioversion but it still worries me. What if the shock flatlines me? What if it sends me into VFib or some other crazy, worse rhythm? I have been reading about ablations, cryotherapy, etc. One side of me wants to just do the cardioversion, get back in NSR and stay there hopefully forever, with the help of Rythmol (sp?) or maybe no more meds. Another side of me says, let's just do the ablation now because of the better cure rate and be done with all meds. Another side of me says, do the cardioversion and if I do go back into AFib, look at what even new and improved techniques are available in 5-10 years.

I am here obviously for lots of advice and courage. Maybe I am being too much of a wimp and irrational about all of this? Please, please help me feel better about this condition and share any, personal stories, similar or not with me. Sorry to write such a long, detailed note but I wanted to cover everything. The most important thing in my life is my family and being there for them long term. I just need to do whatever it takes for me to see those grandkids and great grandkids one day! :)

I sure do appreciate any feedback and stories. If there is any one out there that is relatively close to my age and have experienced this, those would be some comforting replies as well.

Thank you all in advance and God Bless!
Avatar universal
Hey, the cardioversion is only a temporary cure for afib. From what I have read and researched..the 2 ways to get rid of afib are cardioversion (shock) or chemical version. I have had 3 cardioversions done in the last 5 1/2 months. They fix the problem, temporarily, but it came back a couple of months later. Unless you have an underlying condition (heart problems, thyroid condition, severe alcohol abuse, etc) the afib will most likely come back.

From what I have read the only long term treatment options are:

1. Meds
2. Surgery

The meds work for some time but cause side effects and are not 100% successful. From everything I read, I would go for option #2. Depending on the type of AFib you have, the EP will recommend a procedure for you. The options in general are the maze procedure (open heart surgery, where they make a grid pattern in your atria) or the catheder ablation (minimally invasive). The results for the first one are pretty good..about a 96-98% cure rate. The catheder ablation has mixed results from what I read, but I hope it works for my sake! It also depends on where you get it done and the experience of the EP. I live in Toronto ON Canada and am being referred to a good EP so I am not that worried anymore.

You are your worst enemy. I was freaked out for a while then i realized what happens is going to happen. Dont stress. I find that fear was my worst enemy and caused me anxiety more then anything. Just remember that it is treatable. There are many people that have afib that are walking around the streets with it. As long as you have good doctors looking after you..dont stress. Take care and keep in touch. My email is pbhattha at lakeheadu.ca if you need to discuss further.
Avatar universal
I only needed one.  I went to Mayo.  I was on the table for 7 hours.  They were very thorough.  Make sure you go to a very very good clinic and have a very good doctor.  Don't mess around with newbies.

Also expect that you won't know for sure about the cure immediately.  After my ablation I suffered from AFIB and terrible erratic heart beats for about a week.  This is common because ablations are irriitable to the heart.  But it soon subsided and I have been AFIB free for 4 years.  

But I have also heard that it may take more than once.  Indeed my brother had an ablation for flutter and it took three times.   But his doctors weren't as thorough as they should have been.  That's why I say go to the best.
Avatar universal
Hi everyone!!

I am now 36 and have had this obnoxious condition since I was 22.  My heart rate would just go nuts and on occasions everything would just go black.  They tried to do the ablation when I was  22 but my problem is to close to my av node so I would need a pacemaker.  I didn't want that so I have been on a beta-blocker for all these years.

Just a few weeks ago it stoped working.  My heart rate stayed at 140 for 4 days.  I went to the emergency room and after realizing my blood pressure bottoms out whan they tried to give me other drugs they just sent me home w/ the 140 heart rate.  4 days later (4 LONG DAYS) they  put me on flecanide (spelled wrong I am sure).  It worked but I am like a zombie.  After he reviewed my old records from UAB he won't touch me.  He says he does ablations all the time but not ones that are practically sitting on the av node.  He told me that I maybe need to go to somewhere like Duke so they can try the "cool tip" on me.????  I don't know much yet but he told me they freeze the problem area.  If they can't freeze JUST the problem without hurting my av they can let the tissue warm back up and I will be back to normal (Ha..Ha).  Then he followed up by saying there are risks with that as well.  ANYWAY...  Do any of you know anything about the cool tip?   And are any of you on beta-blockers yet???  OH Yea....he also told me I may have another problem area he sees on my ekg so even if they fix my known problem i still might have another problem.  

JMatt, don't panic.  If I could get the ablation.....I would do it in a minuet.  My biggest advice would be to just go to someone good.  I was so lucky to have been sent to UAB from the University of Tenn hospital.  I had one of the best docs in the country.  Trusting your doctor will make things so much easier for you.  I do understand your stress but you are not alone.  Just make sure everyone around you knows what to do if you have a problem and get your medical team to educate you on what can hurt you and what can't.  My problem will not kill me it's just a pain.  If I don't manage it I do have to keep in mind I could become a weapon if I am driving.  Other than that I can not die from this.  Ask lots of questions and try to relax because you are educated on your condition.
Avatar universal
HI betauser: from what I know, the freezing is just another way of doing the ablation. They can burn, freeze or use radio waves to destroy the affected areas. How did the find out it was on your av node? Through the EP study or the EKG?

How many atrial fibrillation episodes do you get yearly? When you say you go black, do you faint? I have never fainted in my life..so that would be pretty nuts for me!

The docs cant really tell much from the EKG though either..they tell me the EP study is more accurate. The maze procedure or micromaze are almost 100% effective as well. Take to your EP Doc about this. I have heard great things about the cleveland clinic and the mayo clinic. I am in Canada so the stuff up here is a bit different, but I am seeing my EP for the first time on Friday so I am crossing my fingers that I can be cured! I dont want to take meds longer then I have too.

Just out of curiousity do you have any other heart conditions as well as the afib?

Anyway keep in touch.
Avatar universal

i am 31 yrs old and have a very slight mitral valve prolapse which all docs tell me its very very mild and is normal.

just few days after my grandmother died , i started developing a conditidion in sleep that pounds my heart and paralyses my one side of hand for a second or more, i went to doc after having similar symtoms atleast twice . i used to take restly 0.5 md ( alprozalam) a tranqulizer to sleep .

my doc advised me a holter monitor for 24 hours ,it revealed at i had a 30 minute of atril fibrillation during the 24 hours while on holter .

i have a mild hypertension problem forwhich i take atenelol 50 mg during the day but just before AF episodes i started taking them at night .can atenelol taken at night cause AF at night.....coz the episoses where noted at night on the holter . my average heart beat is 66 , min heart beat again was in sleep at 34 beats per minute and highest was 145 beats while execersing at the gym in the evening

my cardio told me that the episode is 1.2 percent in 24 hours and its normal . however am concerened and want to rule out mistakes in underdiognising the problem by my cardio .

my email id is :***@****

I welcome  all of you and a cardiologist to post his comments also .

mazaher bandali

Avatar universal
hey, this site blocks out email addresses so we cant see them. About your condition, from the literature that I read..AFIB unless brought on by alcohol/drug abuse, underlying heart problems or thyroid problems is still an electrical issue with the heart. I would get a second opinion. Even though the docs say stress doesnt play a factor in developing afib..I think stress still contributes to it some how. Though it is an electrical issue, it still tends to occur when people are anxious and stressed out..according to studies put out by various universities. Talk to your cardiologist and get a referral for an EP. I have had 3 documented cases of AFIB in the last 5-6 months. Not sure of how long they would have lasted, but I was cardioverted within hours of getting them. From what I have read, certain medications can cause AFIB as well, but only and EP would know best. Anyway keep in touch..all the best
Avatar universal

They found my problem by doing 2 cathater procedures (mapping my heart, diagnostic study??) An EKG will not tell you where your exact problem is from what I have learned. The first time they cathed me was at University of Tennessee and they got it wrong (although I was awake...that was cool!!).  So I stress... make sure you have a good doctor.  At UAB they put a cath in my leg and neck and were ready to ablate the problem area but when they realized where it was they brought me out of anistesia to let me know if they did ablate I would most likely end up with a pacemaker.  I was 23 and said NO.  I had the best doctor who cared about what I wanted.

Yes...I have passed out.  If I don't take my meds I will have them many times a day...every day.  When I was younger my heart rate would shoot up very high.....190...250 and up.  But now that I am older they havent gotten much higher than 150 but when your resting heart rate is in the 40's and 50's at rest and your blood pressure is about 92 over 52..... 150 is not comfy.  I have been on a beta blocker since 1992 and util a few weeks ago I was for the most part okay.  

I do not know of any other problems but they have just told me that they suspect I have more than one area causing the problem.  They just told me yesterday so I am kind of bummed.  I know I can not die from this but I really would love not having it.  I have delt with this for soooooo long.  I want to do the ablation but my odds are not good and they have also said they really don't like putting a pacemaker in someone so young.  I am bound to have problems with it.  I sound so pitiful and I should not.  I am lucky this in not life threatning.  I can't believe this is the first time I have ever talked to another person with the same problem.

Maz2...I used to be on atenelol for a while but it did not work for me so well.  I now take nadolol.  It worked a long time.  Maybe that medicine is just not right for you.  I tried many that made me worse.  They tried many on me and at different doses.    I will admit I have had many symtoms but I am not fimilar with my hands going numb.  My lips go numb and the front of my neck tightens and gives me the sensation of not being able to breath well....but no hand stuff.  The important thing is that they make you comfortable.  It is way to stressful to have episodes every day.  Are you having them in the day with the atenelol?  Do you wake up at night when you have them?  I am with parmb....I would get a second opinion.
Avatar universal
hey, try checking out the cleveland clinic website. They are apparently one of the best places for this. They say that all afibs originate from one of the 4 pulminary viens..and it they ablate those areas it should correct the problem. The mini-maze is also a good bet. If I was in your boat I would also consider the maze..though it is open heart bypass, it has a high success rate 96-98%. I will have to wait and see what they say about me on Friday. For me, I have had 3 episodes that were about 3 months apart. Were your inital episodes when you were 22 farther apart? or did you have it constantly?
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