Anxiety And Atrial Fibrillation: Similar Symptoms But Not The Same
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the globe, eliciting emotions ranging from nervousness and fear to extreme worry. For some, simply turning on the local and national news has triggered stress and anxiety leading to racing, pounding hearts and shortness of breath. But what if these symptoms are indicators of something more?
When it comes to matters of the heart, experts caution not to ignore or dismiss any symptoms for they could be warnings of the most common type of irregular heartbeat: Atrial Fibrillation or AFib.
Anxiety or Atrial Fibrillation?
In stressful situations, anxiety can cause the body to mirror similar symptoms of AFib, but its important to note that both are different medical issues.
Anxiety is an intense feeling of worry or unease prompted by pressure or stress from an everyday situation. It can be brought on by fear of certain activities or thoughts that become all-consuming to the point they interfere with normal, day-to-day routines.
Symptoms of anxiety may include:
Link Between Atrial Fibrillation & Depression Anxiety
Atrial fibrillation is a heart disease which is characterized by irregular heart rhythm. Abnormal heartbeat can affect the blood flow and can lead to stroke, heart failure, and other heart complications. Atrial fibrillation is a very common health problem, increasing worldwide. Most of the people who suffer from Atrial fibrillation, present the symptom of mood disorder. Studies show that every third person who suffers from heart disease also has anxiety and depression as a symptom.
The level of anxiety and depression are affected by the treatment of atrial fibrillation.
Stress Is Inextricably Linked To Heart Health
Managing stress effectively is important for everyones heart health, but especially so for people living with AFib. This is because when youre under a lot of pressure or worn out, it could trigger an AFib episode or make your symptoms worse. We all have to deal with stress in our lives but finding consistent ways to reduce stress when possible can have a big impact on your heart health.
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Atrial Fibrillation: Should I Be Worried
Also, it is important to understand that an asymptomatic atrial fibrillation still presents danger to the heart and can lead to more serious medical conditions. Blood clot formation, common in atrial fibrillation, makes this condition life-threating. Such clot can travel from atria to the brain and cause a stroke. Other complications include heart failure, resulted from an insufficient blood supply from the heart to the rest of the body.
Atrial fibrillation is a serious and debilitating disease. Its episodes often interfere with women’s daily activities, leaving them exhausted and incapacitated. However, since it is the most common of all cardiac arrhythmias, there is a substantial ongoing research and countless resources that can help you learn the common triggers to better manage atrial fibrillation. Click if you are curious to learn how stress affects your heart health during menopause.
How Reducing Stress Can Improve Your Afib Symptoms
We all know that stress has a negative impact on our overall health so why is it rarely talked about in a medical setting? If you go to see a medical professional about a health condition, they are very likely going to present options that are symptom-based, like medications and surgical procedures. While these options are a valuable piece to the overall treatment plan of managing atrial fibrillation, there are other holistic options to improve your symptoms in a less invasive way.
In a study done in 2015, it was found that AFib patients who were instructed to participate in a daily practice of yoga reported fewer atrial fibrillation symptoms. In addition to having less frequent AFib episodes, they also experienced significant decreases in their resting heart rate and blood pressure levels. Similar findings were found in a 2013 study, where at the end of the study, the yoga participants showed a significant reduction in symptomatic AFIb episodes, lower anxiety scores, and improved blood pressure.
It is not the stress itself that can trigger AFib, but the way that your body responds to stress that becomes the issue. Learning helpful tricks to regulate your body and your emotions during stressful times can help to reduce the severity of your AFib symptoms.
Trying low impact exercises like yoga, walking, or tai chi
Prioritizing your sleep schedule
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How Can Atrial Fibrillation Lead To Depression And Anxiety
There is a complex relationship between atrial fibrillation and depression.
Physiological stress is commonly seen in the patient suffering from atrial fibrillation. Such people decline in their household and leisure activities, are unsatisfied with their work, and their social and sexual life is also affected.
There is a lot of anxiety and negative feelings present because of this condition which further leads to depression.
Depression not only affects the brain and behavior but the entire body. It is the major cause of suicidal death. Increase in stress increases the production of adrenalin hormone, which interferes with the electrical activity of the heart. This further leads to more atrial fibrillation.
Both atrial fibrillation and depression play a good role in worsening the symptom of each other, in other words, the patient is caught up in this vicious circle. Stress generates atrial fibrillation and atrial fibrillation worsens stress.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
When you talk with your doctor, ask these questions if you think you may have anxiety or AFib.
If you suspect anxiety:
- Could my anxiety be related to my physical health?
- Should I see a mental health specialist?
- Do I need counseling or medication?
- What can I do at home to feel less anxious?
- Are there foods or drinks I should avoid?
If you suspect AFib:
- Which type of AFib might I have: paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent?
- Whatâs the cause?
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How You Can Reduce Your Stress To Protect Your Heart
While eliminating stress from our lives entirely is not feasible, there are several simple steps to help you reduce and manage your stress level on your journey to better your heart health. Thankfully, several of these strategies are similar to overall solutions for living healthier with AFib, including:
- Consuming a healthy diet Consuming the same types of heart-friendly foods recommended for AFib patients can also help you control your stress. Diet and mental health are closely connected, so make sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, and limiting your intake of animal fats, processed foods and sugar.
- Getting regular exercise Exercise releases endorphins, which have been shown to lower stress levels and elevate your mood. Since exercise also helps your heart work more efficiently, maintaining a proper activity regimen is a win-win.
- Using relaxation techniques Whether you like to meditate, practice yoga, pray, or simply relax quietly with a book, freeing your mind form your troubles can be an effective way to take your attention off the stressors of life for a while.
- Receiving support from family and friends Emotional support from your loved ones generally leads to less stress, so make sure you are reaching out to your friends and family to let them know you need their help to stay as healthy as possible.
Can Stress Cause Atrial Fibrillation
Our modern world continually seems to be adding sources to our day-to-day lives. And while we all know that chronic stress has a negative impact on our health, for many of my patients living with atrial fibrillation, it is common for them to blame the condition on their stress. While stress definitely plays a role in the severity and frequency of AFib symptoms, it is also important to note that there are many other risk factors to developing this disease, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and family history.
Here is everything I want you to know about atrial fibrillation and stress:
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New Study Finds Link Between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder And Increased Risk Of Developing Atrial Fibrillation A New Study Is The First To Report A Relationship Between Post
Presented at Heart Rhythm 2018, first-of-its-kind, large scale study includes more than 1 million post-9/11 veterans receiving medical care
A new study is the first to report a relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder and new cases of atrial fibrillation , the most common heart arrhythmia. The large nationwide study included more than 1 million patients with no prior history of AF or atrial flutter. The study is scheduled to be presented on Friday, May 11 at Heart Rhythm 2018, the Heart Rhythm Societys 39th Annual Scientific Sessions.
AF affects more than 2.7 million American adults each year and this number is expected to increase to nearly eight million by the year 2050. Since AF significantly impacts both patients and the healthcare system, researchers are committed to identifying risks factors and developing novel strategies to prevent and manage the arrhythmia. Thus far, AF has been linked to traditional cardiovascular risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity and sleep apnea. Data linking psychological stress and negative emotions to AF are also beginning to emerge. PTSD is a related chronic stress condition that has been linked to other cardiovascular disease , however, its relationship to AF has not been previously studied.
Sessions details:“Featured Poster Session & Reception: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder And The Risk For Incident Atrial Fibrillation”
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About the Heart Rhythm Society
Afib Symptoms Can Worsen Due To Stress
Research has shown that high levels of stress can increase the severity of AFib symptoms, or cause latent symptoms to manifest. Since managing your symptoms is a vital part of ensuring your long-term health with AFib, reducing stress levels should be one of your top priorities.
Mental health concerns as a whole are an important consideration for AFib patients because conditions such as depression and anxiety are also linked to higher levels of stress. Just like controlling your diet, exercise and blood pressure are important for your heart health when you have AFib, receiving proper treatment for any mental health issues is crucial.
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Does Stress Cause Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is so sneaky. So is afib really stress in disguise? Afib seems to sneak up on you when you least expect it and you wonder where did that come from? Its hard to pin down an atrial fibrillation cause or trigger when its different every time.
For some, its triggered by alcohol or caffeine. For others, by certain types of foods or food additives. For some, it may come on during exercise or from something as simple as bending over. For still others, eating late or sleeping on the left side triggers it. It varies all across the board.
In medical information you rarely see mention of stress causing afib, but I think that stress is a huge contributor. Of the patients Ive interviewed, about 3/4 said that stress was a huge component in bringing on their afib episodes.
Stress certainly could be a factor that leads us to indulge in alcohol, caffeine, or certain foods. But is the food the cause, or is the stress the actual root cause?
Heres a short video clip of what triggered my afib:
Afib Or Anxiety: Understanding The Difference
Chest pressure and an irregular heartbeat both tell you that something is wrong. However, these symptoms can be caused by very different things. Atrial Fibrillation commonly causes these symptoms. AFib is a serious, chronic condition that requires medical treatment. But severe anxiety or panic attacks could also be causing these symptoms. Below, we will tell you how to determine if AFib or Anxiety is causing you, heart, to race.
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Study Population And Design
Details of REGARDS have been published previously . Briefly, this prospective cohort study was designed to identify causes of regional and racial disparities in stroke mortality. The study over sampled blacks and residents of the stroke belt . This included participants from the stroke buckle as this region experiences a stroke mortality rate considerably higher than the rest of the United States . Between January 2003 and October 2007, a total of 30,239 participants were recruited from a commercially available list of residents using postal mailings and telephone interviews. Demographic information and medical histories were obtained by trained interviewers using a computer-assisted telephone interview system. Additionally, a brief in-home physical examination was performed approximately 3 to 4 weeks after the telephone interview. During the in-home visit, trained staff collected medication information, blood and urine samples, blood pressure readings, and a resting electrocardiogram.
This analysis examined the cross-sectional association between perceived stress and AF. Of the 30,239 participants from the original REGARDS cohort, 56 were excluded for data anomalies. Participants were excluded if they were missing perceived stress data, AF data, or baseline covariates. A total of 25,530 study participants were included in the final analysis.
How Stress May Trigger An Afib Episode
During times of stress, your body releases stress hormones that can increase your blood pressure and trigger an AFib episode. Stress can arise from many aspects of your daily life. The two main types of stress, physical and emotional, have varying effects on your body.
Physical stress includes sleep deprivation, sickness, injury, and dehydration. Emotional stress occurs when you experience negative emotions including sadness, anger, and fear.
It is very common for unhealthy habits to arise from stress. Habits such as poor diet and alcohol or caffeine consumption can increase your blood pressure and trigger an episode. In order to manage your episodes, its necessary to find healthy ways to manage your stress.
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Can Anxiety Cause Afib
While they are two separate issues, there are studies that suggest anxiety can trigger Afib episodes. This can be good news and bad news for those who suffer from anxiety.
It’s not the easiest thing to do, but those with AfIb can lower their chances of an episode by finding ways to keep their stress levels down. Anxiety can make Afib worse, so avoiding any kind of anxiety triggers is even more important than usual for people who have both.
Anxiety And Afib: Know The Difference And Learn The Signs
It is an understatement to say that we live in uncertain times. Simply turning on the news can lead many of us to a pounding heartbeat or shortness of breath. It is important now more than ever to recognize these types of symptoms and understand what may be causing them.
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Atrial Fibrillation: 8 Triggers To Have In Mind
Atrial fibrillation, commonly shortened to AFib or AF, is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia, occurring in middle-aged women. While the term arrhythmia signifies any deviations from the normal heart rate, such slow, fast, or irregular pulse, atrial fibrillation is characterized by a rapid, disorganized heartbeat. It occurs when there is a sudden disruption in the electrical system of the heart. Continue reading to learn about the triggers of atrial fibrillation worth paying attention to.
Is That Pounding Heartbeat An Anxiety Attack Or Afib
Afib, or Atrial Fibrillation, occurs when the top two chambers of your heart beat erratically and out of rhythm with the lower two chambers. This can happen in short bursts or show up as a chronic condition. Afib symptoms are usually sharp and immediate. Those with Afib have reported feeling including dizziness, weakness, fatigue and chest pain.
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Managing Your Afib In All Conditions
Stress will always be a part of life, but by seeking out the best AFib care available you can help reduce its impacts. Contact Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. today to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated cardiac electrophysiologists who can guide you through living a fuller life with AFib.
Anxiety Vs Atrial Fibrillation: Know When To See A Doctor
Symptoms like a racing heart, dizziness and shortness of breath can be scary especially when you experience them all at once. While they could be your bodys reaction to a high level of anxiety, dont dismiss these symptoms as nothing serious: They could also point to a more serious heart condition called atrial fibrillation.
Learning more about the similarities between anxiety and atrial fibrillation can help you understand when you should get help from your trusted doctor. Both conditions can be treated with success to help you live your best life.
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The Difference Between Afib And A Panic Attack
The main difference between Afib and a panic attack is what makes it happen. Afib has a physical trigger that sends a surge of electrical impulses through your heart, causing it to get out of sync with itself. In this case, there might be no external factors or warning signs to let you know you are about to have an episode.
Panic attacks, on the other hand, usually come from a source of stress or anxiety. This psychological pressure then results in the physical pain of an anxiety attack.
Understandably, it’s hard to tell what exactly is happening in the moment. However, knowing how to tell the difference between the two can make a big difference.
Stress Induced Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation which occurs in absence of any underling heart disease is known as primary or lone atrial fibrillation. It may be an isolated event or it may recur on an intermittent basis. It is rarely chronic. It is significantly more common in men than women. An attack may last a few hours or days, but rarely longer than a week. The frequency of attacks may occur less than one a year to three or more per year. Excessive physical or emotional stress is considered to be one of the factors responsible for this phenomenon. Stress induced atrial fibrillation is believed to be due to sympathetic overactivation. The other causative factors are considered to be alcohol, hyperthyroidism and certain foods like chocolate and coffee. Because there are many types and triggers for lone atrial fibrillation, its treatment and prevention can be extremely difficult.
The heart usually returns to its normal rhythm on is own. But treatment may be needed if troubling symptoms occur. In people older than 75, doctors recommend treating lone atrial fibrillation to reduce the risk of stroke.
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