Atrial fibrillation

Hi, I had a mild ischemic stroke at the end of July. I’m otherwise fit & healthy and 54. I’ve been incredibly lucky and haven’t really suffered physical symptoms other than fatigue & brain fog. The doctors are trying to unpick what caused it and their latest thought is that I might have an atrial fibrilliation. I’m on a 2 week heart monitor at the moment (which brings its own set of problems as the electrode pads give my skin a rash) I was wondering if anyone else’s stroke was caused by a-fib and whether you had any idea you had a heart condition before your stroke? I remember waking one night in bed and my heart was racing massively for about 20 seconds, but other than that, I haven’t had any symptoms. Thanks, Jo

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Hi. I had my stroke in August 2020. Like you I was lucky to not have any lasting physical issues, though the mental side is another story - little or no support. I already had issues with irregular heart rate following an earlier heart attack. After my stroke the cardio people did lots of tests and found an episode of A. fib on one ECG trace. I had been on clopidogrel after my stroke, but this was then changed to apixaban. They have not said my stroke was definately caused by a.fib but they think it is likely.

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Thanks for your reply. My heart monitor (72 hr tape?) when I left hospital showed a few episodes of a-fib so it’s looking quite likely but it’s v frustrating not knowing for sure, as I’m sure like lots of you on here, it’d be really good to know what my chances of having another stroke are, moving forward. I race cars and am itching to get back out next season but my family are understandably a bit anxious about this!!

Thanks Mahoney, I hope you get the answers you need as well. Jo

Hi Jo. As I am sure many others would say, it is impossible to rate the chance of having another stroke, just as it is to predict who will or will not have a stroke in the first place. All you can do is listen to medical advice - I would think it very likely that you will be put on some form of medication which will reduce the likelihood of another clot breaking away. As I said, I am on apixaban, but there are others; your cardiologist should be able to give you options. As for racing cars, there should be no issues regarding the possibility of another stroke provided you can cope physically - as you now know, there is no warning before one strikes, so I would say try to get back to doing what you want. Incidentally, I don’t race cars but have been in volunteering at rally events as a marshal and safety radio operator.

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My stroke was 3 years ago. I wore a heart monitor for a day and they picked up afib, which they say had caused the ischemic stroke. If the monitor had not picked it up so fast, they would have put an implant monitor in, which lasts about 3 years, because afib is often sporadic, and might not occur while wearing the monitor. --But is very often what causes an ischemic stroke. I was lucky it was found by the Holter monitor I wore. I had never felt my heart racing or had any symptoms. I was completely unaware. Now, I am on medication to control the situation, and it is a load off my mind. What you describe as a “racing” heart sounds like it could be afib. It’s good you’re following up on this. Let us know how it all turns out. My best to you! Jeanne

Hi Jo my husband was diagnosed with AF 3 years ago after he was found to have had 2 strokes. His strokes were caused by the AF causing blood clots which went to his brain. He was lucky in that he had no paralysis - he had cognitive damage. He was put on blood thinners. We had before no idea he had this problem and had been fit and healthy this. He now has memory problems and has been put on beta blockers and blood pressure tablets. Hope this is of use - take care Sandra

Thanks Jeanne, well I’ve just returned my heart monitor to the hospital so hopefully all will be revealed soon. I would like to know definitively what caused me stroke so weirdly hoping it shows something! Jo

Hi Scamps, thanks for your reply. There definitely seems to be a theme here - that no seems to have afib symptoms… I’m sorry your husband had 2 strokes, hope he’s ok now. I’m on Clopidogrel & statins now so hoping that will be enough to prevent another one, but who knows. Jo

Hi had my stroke in April 2021 the docs don’t know what caused it so I’ve now got a loop recorder inserted just under the skin above my heart and it will stay there for upto 3 years I have to download the data once a month it then goes straight though to the hospital to see if I have occasional Af I also carry I little device with me and if I feel anything odd I put it over the inserted device and it collects data that I then transfer to the device machine at home ,it sounds very technical but it’s not ,I’ve hadine in a month next week so have to download all the data to see if it’s picked up any AF …pippy

Thanks Pippy, yes the hospital did mention the possibility of a device that would sit under my skin - I’m assuming it’s the same thing. Has yours picked anything up? Jo

I had a TIA in April, no warning, lasted an hour and a half and fine afterwards. However, GP got me into TIA clinic at local hospital and had an MRI scan. Caused by severe AF, ECG going off the scale!

Prescribed very strict diet, Apixaban, beta-blockers, stations. Now lost two and a half stone, feeling fine but do get exhausted easily.

Just pace yourself and listen to your body. If you need a nap, take one. I try to walk at least 3000 steps a day and often double that. I also wear a FitBit which monitors my heart rate and makes interesting reading some days!

Good luck.

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Hi Elsie, thanks for your message. This forum is wonderful - I really appreciate people’s responses and I’m so interested to hear everyone’s experiences! I must admit I’m not very good at listening to my body, am now back at work which is quite draining, but I do walk a lot (10,000 steps a day) so that feels like a positive. Just want the results back from my heart monitor so that I know one way or the other! Take care. Jo

I had a TIA two years ago, I just woke up one morning not being able to see out of my right eye. I’ve had AF for some years now and was on medication for it but now this has changed to Apixaban and beta blockers, this has helped. But I do still get episodes a AF, usually at night, my Fitbit watch tells me. Eye sight improved after a few weeks but I still have bad eyesight in that eye, reading and close work is difficult. I do get a bit muddled sometimes but that could be due to age I’m 76. I was very lucky it could have been much worse.

HI Janet, I’m sorry to hear about your eyesight. Interested to hear that you wear a Fitbit - I must invest, sounds like an easy way to monitor AF. I definitely had one last night (an episode that is!) but no longer wearing my heart monitor so no record of it. My latest complaint is my memory which is shot to pieces at the moment - keep missing appointments etc, feel like an idiot - it’s all very frustrating. Jo

Thanks Jo, hope you are recovering well,

I’m 76 too and the sight in my left eye is bad after my TIA in April. The optometrist said it was a cataract and I would have to wait for some time to have it removed, so have to put up with it.
I also have AF and on Apixaban and beta blockers and appreciate how lucky I am to have come out of it relatively unscathed but do have to pace myself and have the occasional siesta. Managing to walk quite a lot now and recently worked a full week of 9 hour days for a friend without too much struggle. However, you must listen to your body and rest when needed.

Hi Elsie
Glad to hear I am not the only one, I’m coping with my sight, my balance is dreadful , I’m a lot safer with two sticks. As you say it could have been much worse. I try to make sure I get a rest in the afternoon. Take care, I hope you recover soon.

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Hi Jo, I hope your situation has improved and you have found some answers, I have AF and it is what caused my strokes I was warned when my AF was diagnosed that because the system for letting blood in and out of the heart isn’t working correctly then it could leave behind drops of blood which will become flakes and could eventually break off into the blood stream and cause a stroke, which is what happened, I take apixaban now to keep the blood thin and try and stay away from saturated fats and sugar, try being the operative word here Good luck in the future Jo and I hope you’re doing well.

Hi Jo, i am currently on month 4 after having a stroke. I had Wolff Parkinson White syndrome about 6 years back (Its a form of AF). I had an ablation which by all accounts cured it. Im now waiting for the results of a 72hr heart monitor to see if i either have AF or the WPW has returned (I dont have any of the same symptoms though at all). All previous heart tests have been spot on, so i still dont know how the stroke was caused?? But as i say i was 6 years clear leading up to the stroke?.. I hope yours gets diagnosed soon. :+1: