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Ruth asked...

My son 26yrs old suffers with AF and bigemini episodes...

My son 26yrs old suffers with AF and bigemini episodes this has created anxiety and he becones frightened believing he is going to have cardiac arrest been seen by cardiologist this doesnt seem to ease his fear.

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The answer

Thank you for writing in to Ask the Expert and we are sorry to hear about your son and his health concerns.

Atrial fibrillation is a common cardiac condition in which the atriums of the heart rapidly and irregularly contract and cause an irregular heartbeat to occur.

Bigeminy is where there is an occurrence of two beats of the pulse or heart beat in rapid succession.

Atrial fibrillation and Bigeminy management should have been discussed with your son by the Cardiologist and depending on severity can be either observed or treated by means of medications or surgery such as the introduction of a pacemaker.

It is natural for your son to be concerned and we are sure that he will have regular appointments with the cardiologist in order to monitor the condition and to effectively manage the condition.

However, anxiety may in itself not help improve the condition as when one is anxious the body produces adrenaline and this can cause the heart beat to become faster and may make the AF more frequent and pronounced.

We would suggest to your son that he talks to the specialist about his worries and that he wants to be sure that the management he is receiving is appropriate at this time.

The GP may also be good to see as they may suggest further investigations and perhaps direct him to appropriate support networks too.

We would perhaps also suggest that when your son is more anxious that perhaps he considers using deep breathing exercises and distraction to slow breathing down and to slow his heart rate down too. Maybe CBT may help him with these anxieties.

Another way to encourage your son may also be to suggest that he tries to lead a healthy lifestyle by reducing alcohol and smoking intake, eating healthily, maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising as this again can help reduce the risks of heart disease and strokes as well as other conditions such as diabetes.

Some useful information sites that may assist with understanding and also for support are:

Atrial fibrillation - NHS

Heart Rhythm Alliance

British Heart Foundation

Stress & Anxiety - NHS

Mind

CBT - NHS

We hope this is useful and we wish you and your son all the best.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses