Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Is Afib Caused By Stress

Can Stress Cause Afib

Can stress cause Afib?

Negative emotions such as anger, stress, anxiety and sadness can trigger atrial fibrillation . Atrial fibrillation affects over 3 million people in the United States and is the most common abnormal heart rhythm . AFib can cause symptoms of palpitations, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and decreased exercise capacity and can have a significant impact on quality of life. Anxiety and/or depression is present in over 40% of people with atrial fibrillation, which is higher than the incidence in the general population.

A relationship between stress and atrial fibrillation was first described in 1964 amongst healthy Air Force servicemen who were noted to have newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation after an anger or stress episode. In 1968, a case series published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine reported that, amongst study participants, 27% of AFib episodes were attributed to emotional stress. Similar findings have been observed in additional studies over the subsequent decades. In addition to a link between acute stress and atrial fibrillation, studies have found an association between negative personality traits, like hostility, and environmental stressors, like work stress, and AFib.

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?

How Is Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosed

You should see a doctor for diagnosis but you may also detect it by feeling your pulse at your wrist. A normal heart rate is steady and usually between 60 and 100 beats a minute when you’re resting. If you have AF, your pulse will have no set pattern and the beats might have different strengths.

Some people have AF which comes and goes. This means their pulse may feel normal at times and at other times it will be irregular.

  • Watch our video on how to take your pulse. If youre worried about your pulse, or it feels irregular, make an appointment to see your GP.

If your GP suspects you have AF, they should refer you for further tests including:

Find out more about anticoagulant medication and AF.

Recommended Reading: How You Cope With Stress

Are Women More Likely To Have Stress Trigger An Afib Attack

Psychological stress has long been thought to be a possible trigger of atrialfibrillationand the association appears to be especially strong among women. Butmen aren immune.Neither are cardiologistsho it can be said to have one of the most stressful jobs in the world. That what Dr. Damien Legallois learned when he was just28 years old.

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

10 Effects of Atrial Fibrillation on the Body

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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Manage High Blood Pressure And Cholesterol

Having high cholesterol is a risk factor for a heart attack, which can also impact the heart rate. High blood pressure can interfere with the electrical system that regulates a steady heartbeat.

It is important to work with a doctor if lifestyle changes cannot keep these health markers in the healthy range. For some people, medication may be necessary.

Blood pressure monitors are available from pharmacies or you can purchase them online.

Atrial Fibrillation : Causes Symptoms And Treatments

Atrial fibrillation is a common abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia. It causes your heart to beat abnormally, which might feel like your heart is fluttering.


Treatment and improving lifestyle is important because untreated AF can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related problems.

We answer the top 7 most common questions about AF, read on to find out more.

  • Will atrial fibrillation make my life harder?
  • Recommended Reading: How Can I Control Stress

    The Physical Effects Of Stress And Anxiety

    To paint the best picture of the intricate relationship between stress, anxiety, and atrial fibrillation, lets take a closer at each side of the equation before we connect them.

    When you have anxiety or stress, your body goes into a fight-or-flight response thats initiated by your sympathetic nervous system. As a result, hormones are released that cause physiological responses in your body, including:

    • Dilated pupils
    • Rapid heart and breath rate
    • Trembling
    • Change in blood flow

    This change of blood flow is designed to help you fight or flee as it diverts blood from the surface of your skin to your muscles, legs, arms, and brain.

    As you can see, many of the physical side effects of stress or anxiety stem from your cardiovascular system, which explains why higher-than-normal levels of stress can burden this same system.

    What Can You Do At Home For Atrial Fibrillation

    How Does Stress Affect Your Atrial Fibrillation?

    Atrial fibrillation is often the result of heart disease or damage. So making changes that improve the condition of your heart may also improve your overall health.

    • Dont smoke. Avoid second-hand smoke too.
    • Eat a heart-healthy diet with plenty of fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, high-fibre grains and breads, and olive oil.
    • Get regular exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week. Your doctor can suggest a safe level of exercise for you.
    • Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.
    • Manage other health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
    • Manage your stress. Stress can damage your heart.
    • Avoid alcohol if it triggers symptoms.
    • Avoid getting sick from the flu. Get a flu shot every year.

    Read Also: How Can I Tell If I M Stressed

    How To Tell The Difference

    How can you tell if youâre having AFib or an anxiety attack? Itâs a good question. Studies show that stress and anxiety can worsen symptoms of AFib, but more research is needed to find out if people with anxiety and depression are at greater risk for developing it. Research also shows that people with AFib are more likely to get depression or anxiety because the condition affects your quality of life.

    Do You Do A Stress Test For Afib

    A heart rate monitor is the most important test for detecting AFib and atrial flutter. Placing small, painless electrodes on your chest, wrist, and ankle is the procedure of an EKG. Exercise stress tests are performed when you are walking on a treadmill or when you are resting.

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    Does A Stress Test Show Atrial Fibrillation

    Exercise testing is also known as stress testing. It involves measuring how your heart responds during cardiovascular exercise. This can be done on a treadmill or another cardio machine. Holter monitors or event monitors are also available. A portable EKG device can be used to detect paroxysmal AFib, also known as AFib that comes and goes.

    What Is Atrial Fibrillation And What Can Happen To Me If I Have It

    Stress and AFib â Can Stress Cause Arrhythmia and Other ...

    During a regular heartbeat, the top two chambers of the heart send out an electrical signal that triggers the heart to pump blood through the body. Atrial fibrillation happens when the electrical signal becomes irregular and causes disorganized and rapid contractions of the atria. These abnormal atrial contractions may cause ineffective pumping of blood through the body.

    Read Also: Does Stress Affect Erectile Dysfunction

    How I Manage Wintertime Stress

    We all need a way to decompress from stress, especially those suffering from AFib. And this photo shows my favorite way to keep stress levels down. Every weekend in the winter our family goes skiing. No matter how stressful the workweek gets, I know there is always a mountain waiting for me just 30 minutes from our house in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    I took this photo is from the 9990 chairlift at the Park City Mountain Resort this past week. The skiing has been amazing this year with recent snow levels well above average. If youre planning a trip to Utah this year, and you suffer from AFib, come see me at St. Marks Hospital! Call my team at 801-266-3418 when you schedule your trip!

    Can You Mistake Other Types Of Heart Palpitations For Anxiety Heart Palpitations

    If heart palpitations dont go away within a few minutes or happen frequently, they may not be related to anxiety. Less commonly, heart palpitations result from a health condition or disorder, including:

    • Lifestyle, including your alcohol and caffeine intake, as both can cause palpitations.
    • Medical history.
    • Symptoms.

    Your provider may suggest a blood test to check for anemia or low potassium. Theyll also look for a thyroid problem or other health issues that could cause heart palpitations.

    Also Check: Is There Medication For Stress

    Impact Of Sociodemographic Factors On Af Incidence And Progression

    Apart from mental psychosocial stress factors, socioeconomic and environmental social factors may also affect the onset and course of AF. By using US vital statistics for 55- to 89-year-old white and black subjects , Patton et al. compared demographic AF-related mortality risk within the US stroke belt , a disadvantaged region in the southeastern United States, against the national average AF-related mortality. They found an odds ratio of 1.19 in black and 1.09 in white subjects for AF-related mortality associated with SB birth. A subsequent study confirmed these findings with data from 24,323 participants in the US Health and Retirement Study, but failed to identify an association with any specific childhood or adult cardiovascular risk factors, suggesting that there are as yet unidentified early life factors relevant to the development of AF.

    In summary, living in deprived neighborhoods, low levels of formal education, and involuntary unemployment are proxies for a low social class gradient, which contributes to an increased risk of AF onset or an adverse course of AF, thus raising important clinical and public health concerns. These data also show that AF is embedded as a disease condition in a societal context and is not an isolated medical problem per se.

    Read Also: Does Stress Cause High Blood Pressure

    Are Heart Palpitations From Anxiety Dangerous

    How Can Stress Cause Atrial Fibrillation?

    Although heart palpitations can be alarming, most arent dangerous. They usually go away after the anxiety-causing situation passes.

    Less commonly, heart palpitations can be a sign of a serious health problem, such as arrhythmia . These heart palpitations may feel like they cause anxiety rather than follow it. If you have palpitations along with chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness or confusion, seek medical help right away.

    Read Also: What Can I Take To Reduce Stress

    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, its 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 And Afib Can Stress Cause Arrhythmia And Other Heart Issues

    Over the years, doctors and researchers have identified stress as a major cause of a number of health issues. These health issues are ranging from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and even personality disorders. To serious life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. But can stress cause AFib ?

    In todays article, we will discuss the link between chronic stress and AFib. As it is the most common type of arrhythmia seen in patients today. We will also discuss chronic stress as the cause of other common heart issues as well.

    Recommended Reading: What To Get Someone Who Is Stressed

    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.

    What Is The Outlook For People With Heart Palpitations And Anxiety

    Stress and AFib â Can Stress Cause Arrhythmia and Other ...

    Many people have heart palpitations caused by situational anxiety. You can use relaxation strategies to successfully manage this anxiety. These strategies can slow down your heart rate in the moment.

    If you have heart palpitations caused by chronic anxiety disorders, there is hope. You can also manage your anxiety with proper treatment. A good team of healthcare providers can help you build a coping strategy.

    If you suspect another health condition is causing palpitations with or without anxiety talk to your provider about treatment. To relieve your symptoms, your provider will treat the cause. You may also benefit from anxiety-relieving therapies.

    Recommended Reading: What To Do When You Feel Stressed And Depressed

    Which Is Contraindicated For An Exercise Stress Test

    There are several absolute contraindications, including MI in the previous two days, ongoing unstable angina, uncontrolled cardiac arrhythmias with hemodynamic compromise, and symptomatic severe aortic stenosis . A sudden cardiac death or hospitalization is one of the results of exercise stress tests in one in ten cases.

    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:

    • Dizziness

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    How Soon Can I Drive

    If your AF is well managed and you are symptom-free, you will generally be able to continue driving without restrictions. However, if you have had blackouts or severe dizziness with your AF you should not drive until your condition is stabilised.

    If you have a vocational driverâs license it will need to be assessed. If you have had a blackout or severe dizziness with your AF you may have a 6 month stand-down.

    Discuss any concerns with your doctor.

    If you ever have an AF episode while driving, you should immediately pull over and seek help.

    Stress Increases The Severity Of Your Afib Symptoms By:

    Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Treatment Options
    • Increasing your risk of having heart palpitations

    • Elevating your blood pressure and resting heart rate

    • Negatively impacting your sleep quality

    • Increasing the likelihood of consuming excess alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

    • Reducing your motivation to cook and eat nutritious meals

    But if you could wave a magic wand and remove 100% of the sources of stress in your life, would your AFib episodes go away completely? The answer is likely no. Because atrial fibrillation is a complex medical condition that is often brought on by a multitude of pre-existing medical conditions, removing stress alone would not cure the disease completely.

    But, with that being said, finding ways to reduce your stress levels has been proven to have a positive impact on the health of patients living with AFib, and can reduce symptoms of atrial fibrillation.

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