Heart Palpitations Panic Attacks
Heart Palpitations Panic Attacks


I have had heart problems from birth, but AFIB was only diagnosed when I
was about 23 years of age. It was a big shock.

I was told that I had a heart arrhythmia called AFIB.

I thought the surgery on my Tetralogy of Fallot heart sorted everything
out, but it was only the start of my heart palpitations panic attacks story.
I  got married when I was 24.

I did not know much about AFIB, it felt like the doctors were also still “looking to see what’s my problem”, I was confused, young, scared, afraid of dying and …..

I could feel my heart beating….irregularly and out of rhythm.

I thought ” would I ever see my children” and ” will I be too weak to play with them” so yes, it was a big shock.

I have also experienced and read on forums that doctors sometimes do
not take afib seriously and you are sent home with a “don’t worry, it won’t
kill you”, but the problem is you can FEEL your heart.


I got my first panic attacks about a year after I was diagnosed with Afib.

The thing with the panic attacks was that it -well- just “attacked” me from nowhere and I thought “it must be my heart” I went to many doctors. In one week I visited 3 different doctors, my GP, Homeopath, and my Cardiologist because I thought I was going to die!!

They would tell me I’m alright and then once I was alone I got an attack. Sometimes an AFIB and then a Panic attack, I was so confused I did not know which of the 2 it was.

What are some of the symptoms of a panic attack according to ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America).

Palpitations and a pounding heart.

Sensations of shortness of breath.

Discomfort in the chest area.

LightHeaded or feeling dizzy.

Fear of losing control

Fear of dying

Above mentioned symptoms are also AFIB symptoms or very close to it.

At that stage, I did not really understand this heart palpitations panic attacks thing, and how it was connected to my AFIB and cardioversion of the previous year.

I thought I was going CRAZY!! The thought of going crazy is one of the most common thoughts that people who have panic attacks get.

The doctors tried to explain everything to me, but I was struggling to understand if the heart palpitations (AFIB) was responsible for the panic attacks or visa versa, were they the same thing, how were they connected, could I prevent this heart palpitations panic attacks thing?

There is a post on Everyday Health that explains the difference between AFIB and Panic Attacks quite good.

Luckily I also went to a good and wise psychiatrist, and one of the things I
remember is that he said

you cannot be in control of everything“.

In some sort of weird way that helped me, because I realized that some things
you must just let go. I’m a newborn Christian and I believe in life after
death, so I decided to let my life go! into God’s hands. This Paradox approach is very powerful because by not fighting the panic you take the fear and strength out of panic.

But this does not mean I was not afraid of dying or that I would not look after my health,
actually the opposite. I realized I will have to die someday, but not be
a walking dead person, crippled by fear and that is why I have to make the most of every

The psychiatrist gave me some meds for about 6 months, but also talked to
me about my thought life, and sent me to other professionals who helped me
with breathing exercises, and we talked about death – can you believe it!!
He explained exactly how panic attacks work and how to prevent that
they do not get worse.

Another step was to really believe the doctors when they said I’m alright,
and DO life.

I was told that I could do sports, but I was too afraid to try it again.


One night I was phoned by a squash mate, and they needed me to play a game
as a substitute for somebody (they said there was no one available).

I refused – I was too scared — fear of dying was my only thought.

Finally, I gave in and played the game. I remember being so scared that I was
going to die any moment on that squash court, I lost the game but it was a
victory for me. I decided there and then that I was going to face my fears
( with my doctor’s blessing of course).

The constant fear and anxiety was actually so bad that I said to myself, before the game started, that I could not go on with my life with this constant fear of dying, because it paralyzed me totally and it was all I could think about, and I said, well if I have to go then that’s that but I cannot live in fear every day.

My tips for handling that panic attack: and beating heart palpitations panic attacks are:

  1. Keep on breathing!!  —  Do not stop breathing because you want to count your heart beats. Is it just me or do you also hold in your breath and start “feeling” and counting your heartbeats?  Maybe it’s just a panic attack and not an AFIB attack.
  2. Don’t fight it accept it!! My attitude was OK panic bring it on let’s see what you’ve got.
  3. Muscle relaxation!! Tense and then relax all the muscle groups, one by one, you can start from your feet up to your head or the other way around. This can take up to 20 minutes or you could just do a quick 5-10 minute exercise.
  4. Build a victory bank and remember any victories you had over panic. Even the smallest victories can help you build this victory bank.

These above-mentioned tips are only my pre-arrest of my thoughts.

For my full, Thoughtarrest Infographic click HERE.

Please let me know if anything like this ever happened to you in your AFIB journey.


  1. Thank You 🙂 Your article was very helpful .
    I will use your advise . The more I know & understand will greatly help me 🙂

  2. I have had anxiety for many-many years. I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was about 30, but my panic attacks started in Jr High School. From the age of 7 I had a heart condition where I had episodes of tachycardia, taking my pulse rate to well over 240 bpm. This almost started my anxiety and panic attacks, because as a child I was always afraid of where and when I’d have one of my episodes. I’ve always resisted being on medication. However, the couple of times I tried anxiety meds my palpitations seemed to only get worse and I would soon choose to go off of it. Anyway, all of that said, I’m now 60 and STILL struggling. But I see all these TV commercials these days about AFIB. I’ve had three stress tests over the past 5 years and also had heart ablation in 2006. If my shortness of breath and intense tightness through my back (my life story) were AFIB would a stress test have revealed this? I realize you are not a doctor. I would merely appreciate your opinion and input. I just went through some tests for another health issue recently. To find out I’m fine resulted in bills, bills, and more bills. So, I’m hesitant to go to the doctor to check about AFIB. Especially when I’m having the very same anxiety symptoms I’ve had for decades. I hate feeling like such a hypochondriac, but every time I see one of those AFIB commercials I half tense up. I’ve had a flare up with my panic and anxiety recently and I almost think it’s partly a result of constantly seeing these TV commercials about AFIB. (along with some other pending family stress and worries) I’ve had check ups with a cardiologist and a stress test within the past 2 years, so do you think they would they have caught it if my palpitations and shortness of breath was a result of AFIB? Back then, I didn’t even know enough about AFIB to ask, frankly. My cardiologist simply suggested I try taking extra magnesium supplements for my palpitations, as he agreed I was definitely having some. So, apparently all palpitations are not AFIB. Am I right in assuming that?

    Thanks so much for hearing my story!

    1. Hi Leanne
      Yes, I’m no doctor and can only talk about my own experience and research.
      For me, anxiety and AFIB or palpitations are so close to each other, and sometimes(lots of times) anxiety causes palpitations.

      If you have not done it already read more about “paroxysmal afib”, and it seems like it is not always picked up even by stress tests. But usually, the stress test should “show” AFIB.
      Did you ever get a Holter monitor?
      Dr Sanjay Gupta says it is better to address the anxiety and panic, and then you(I) will have fewer palpitations overall if it is not from something like AFIB. Easier said than done, but still great advice.
      This is my short answer.

      When I addressed my anxiety it was easier for me to “diagnose” myself and ask better questions when visiting my doctor.
      Hope this helps, but your feedback will be great to hear.

  3. Thanks so much for your story.. I dont have AFIB but I suffer from tachycardia and anxiety.. same story but with tachycardia.. Your story put a smile on my face because I learned a number of things! Thanks again for putting your story out there.

    1. Galen

      Thank you for the encouragement. I think the link between our head and hearts is very special because we can feel our hearts beating, and like you can understand when it’s beating to fast.
      Be Strong!

  4. Let me just say i truly am normalized to stress the palpatations gave me stress and that definitely caused me anxiety . i know it was the only factor to it i was becoming depressed thinking i wasn’t going to see my babies grow up and making sure they were cared for making plans and arrangements because every day i got more and more palpatations. I too was living in fear until i found God and i prayed to him to stop all of it and he did everything stopped happening to my heart but i do believe they have it backwards i wasnt stressed until the palpatations 💔

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