Heart Rhythm Community
12.1k Members
Avatar universal

Waking up to atrial flutter / atrial fibrillation

I am 28, physically fit/athletic, not smoking/using drugs, using only little alcohol, eating rather healthy, but I do have hypercholesterolemia which was found about two years ago. At that time I went to a doctor for "weird sensations of heart". High cholesterol was found via a bloodwork. (LDL 4.3 unmedicated then, was few months of the medication and LDL was 4.9). Back to 40mg of statins...

At that time, I was working for a REALLY stressful job (more than 80% of employees quit after 8 months of the new CEO stepping in), so I thought the stress might have caused the heart issues as well. I have had heart issues that have recently become worse, even though I quit the job nearly year ago and went back to school to study music (which I love!) :)

Anyways, as far as I can tell, I suffer from atrial flutter and more recently also from atrial fibrillation. Both seem to occur rather "randomly" after meals (mostly when I lie down/compress my torso) and while at sleep. Flutter happens only when asleep, but afib happens also after meals.

I usually wakeup after 3-4 hours of sleep to a fluttering sensation in inner ear, and then it turns to wildly racing pulse from 60-150. Pulse (from wrist) feels completely random, few slow beats, then some rapid ones and back to slow. Usually standing up stops it. Both cause mostly grief and annoyance since I really could use my sleep...

Alcohol has clear effect on afib, after drinking it happens much more often.

Sometimes when afib/tachycardia hits after meal/lying down, I feel dizzy, short of breath, numbness of jaw/face and a feeling of "impending doom" - BUT this most certainly is not an anxiety attack! I am still not feeling afraid, panicking or anything like that. It is just a feeling that "everything is not right". And it most certainly is not.

And when I wake up from sleep, it feels like someone wakes you up with a bucket of cold water, waking you up instantly - and completely. I feel like I´ve had a burst of adrenaline, my eyes are completely wide and open, although I should be very sleepy after few hours of sleep. After the "attack" has passed, it takes roughly 30 minutes to "cooldown" and to fall asleep again.

I´ve been at ER couple times, but as the flutter/afib is gone in few minutes after I wake up, they´ve never catched it. Same with meals / lying down.

Today, for the first time, I also had the "sense of feeling cold" after the afib. I was shivering for like 15-20 minutes, although I was under a very warm blanket in a room of 24C.

I do have some scoliosis at my neck and at first the doctors thought my c2/c3 joints were "at block", that there would not have been disc at all between them, but now they´ve noticed it´s there, but it´s just very small/hard to notice. I have no idea if this has something to do with vagal afib or not.

People tend to say, they have vagal afib mostly when they are sleeping on their left side, but I tend to wake up fluttering/afibbing from my right side. Something to do with my neck?

Anyways, I am going to doctor in few days and hope to get some bloodwork tested (adrenaline, thyroid, potassium, iodine, magnesium) and asking for possible holtering.

Recently, I´ve also had issues falling asleep, because my pulse is topping 100 (no flutter, no afib - just racing) When I stand up, it "normalizes" to 70-80. I was given beta blocker for this. It seems to help.

I have trained different martial arts for the past 20 years and I´ve learned to be VERY aware of my own body (positioning, breathing, heart, different sensations). I´ve never had any issues with my health before, so what I´ve gone through for the past two years have been a very humbling experience for me.

I´ve been at ER probably five times, but they just take the quick ECG which tells us nothing, because I have never had the flutter/afib for more than 15 minutes.

About 1.5 years ago I also had some variance of thyroid gland bloodwork. At some point I was at the high peak of the "normal values", then month or two later I was little bit under the normal values. I´ve also had higher than normal creatine values. Just listing everything that comes in to mind, in case it might have anything to do.

I am looking for any insight, comments etc to get this thing sorted out. What can I do? Do I have any options here?
16 Responses
1182699 tn?1297578384
So you know you're in afib or aflutter by monitoring or just a feeling you're getting? I have similar experiences, but the shivering, impending doom, etc. do sound like panic attacks. You can also have nocturnal panic attacks. I have found in my case that my panic attacks are direct results from my heart arrythmia, I know I would not freak out if I did not feel my heart. PVC's, PAC's, and whatever else may be going on that they haven't been able to catch. My doctor told me when I wake suddenly I am having an adrenaline response to the myoclonic jerk, which seems to be setting everything off. It's interesting you talk about the scoliosis...I was diagnosed in my late 20's and I wonder now if it is affecting the vagal nerve. Are you seeing a cardiologist as well? You could ask for a holter (24 hour) monitor or an event monitor that you wear for 30 days. WIth what your feeling, your doctor may allow it. I hope you feel better and get answers soon.
Avatar universal
I don´t think it´s anxiety attack for few reasons.

1) When I have fluttering and vagal afib feelings, I don´t feel "impending doom", or anything like that. I feel annoyed, frustrated and slightly stressed that my night sleep is "ruined yet again".

2) I´ve had the feeling of "impending doom" only after a meal, when I´ve been lying down for a while. It does not start with that, it starts with dizziness, nausea and heart starting to beat much quicker than normal. Last time (few weeks ago) this happened, I also felt that tingling/numbing sensation around jaw and headache. After getting one symptom after another, the feeling of "impending doom" popped. Few minutes ago I was feeling fine and now suddenly, everything seemed to went to hell. :D That´s the reason for that. "What´s going on?!"

3) Last night, after sleeping 3-4 hours I woke up. I can sense the afib from my wrist pulse very clearly. Pulse was racing totally randomly from 60-150, few short beats - then suddenly much quicker. Fluttering was something "I sensed before the afib started". Flutter wakes me up "smoothly", while afib wakes me up in a blast of adrenaline. After the afib stopped, I started to shiver for 15-20 minutes. Otherwise I was feeling very well/good.

I don´t mind having panic attacks, but I don´t simply think I have those. OR if I do, it´s a cause from heart arrythmia and that it would only fit the cases when I´ve felt the "impending doom" few times.

I am seeing just a general doctor for now and hope that he´d send me toa cardiologist. Problem is, I think he might just overlook everything and think that I am just some crazy mofo. :p

Yeah, I would love to have that event monitor to finally catch the flutter/afib. I was holtered once, but that was before I´ve had any fluttering/afib. That was when I had

Since everything in my life has been so good (new great school, stuff going better than ever with girlfriend etc) - I was wondering if actually THAT might be the cause for vagal afib.
I just read this about vagal afib:

"Short-term stress classically should not set off vagal AF - but calming down afterwards often will."

(source: http://www.a-fib.com/VagalA-Fib.htm#11 )

Just tossing wild guesses around. Won´t get me anywhere, but ...meh.

What worries me is the increasing repetitiveness of the fluttering/afibbing. First these seemed to occur once in a few month, now I´ve had like four in past month alone. :(
Avatar universal
Lovely that you can´t edit your posts...

"Yeah, I would love to have that event monitor to finally catch the flutter/afib. I was holtered once, but that was before I´ve had..."

... any fluttering/afib. That was when I first went to a doctor for the weird heart sensations. That was the time I got to see a cardiologist. At that time they also echoed my heart and everything was fine. They also did that jogging (or well spinning) ECG, where they found out that my oxygen saturation was getting lower than it should. Around that time I quit the job and never found out what caused that, but the doctors were not too alarmed about it, they just tossed some questions marks around possible causes."

I am now going to get the results etc from this "private doctor company" and take them with me to the general doctor.
1137980 tn?1281289046
Okay i am going to toss in my two cents worth on this one...to me the answer is evident...and that is we don't let our hairdresser put the transmission in our cars right?  The point is you need to see a HEART doc not a GP in my humble opinion.  A heart doc is just that...that is their specialty...they did added years as a specialist during school ad training and that is basically all they know, have seen everything, and know exactly what to do.  You don't normally have to deal with the process of elimination with a heart doc...because its simple...they know....a family or GP doc is super important as well however the heart is not their specialty and they to me do not have the experience in diagnostic not surgical and will no doubt do process of elimination thru meds, etc. and that is just not right.  I would yes see that doc and ask him/her for a referral because A. Its your body and your life B, The heart is not something to play a guessing game with C. You will get the answers from a heart doc pretty much immediately w/out being a test monkey for your doc with the ...well lets try this or the well i just don't think so....or the i wouldn't worry about this....not fair to you my friend...let the HEART doc order the holter and save yourself alot of un necessary worry and frustration...i think we have all been there ONCE and then learned our lessons.  Its your life....you have only one shot.....and its you NOT the docs that dictate your decisions in this life...again think seriously about this and don't waste anymore time and go see the doc that really knows...good luck and let us know...
Avatar universal
Sigh. I managed to sleep less than 2.5 hours. I fell asleep instantly, but woke up to a ~100ish pulse that I could clearly feel through my neck. It was steady, but quick. No flutter or afib. I also had a feeling of pressure around neck from the back and sides. What on earth can cause this?

As soon as I rose up, it started to ease up, but I´d really need more sleep.
Avatar universal
Same for today. I woke after 2.5 hours of sleep, with tachycardia and felt my pulse strongly from my neck (behind and sides). No idea if it is the vagus nerve or something else, but if I DO NOT wake up for the tachycardia, it turns to flutter/afib which happened few days ago.

The cause is my neck or something. Extra doctor visit today. Hoping for quick X-Ray.
Have an Answer?
Top Arrhythmias Answerers
1807132 tn?1318747197
Chicago, IL
1423357 tn?1511089042
Central, MA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
Salt in food can hurt your heart.
Get answers to your top questions about this common — but scary — symptom
How to know when chest pain may be a sign of something else
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.