Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Support Group

Atrial fibrillation (AF or afib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (cardiac arrhythmia) which involves the two small, upper heart chambers (the atria). Heart beats in a normal heart begin after electricity generated in the atria by the sinoatrial node spread through the heart and cause contraction of the heart muscle and pumping of blood.

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Afib and work

Hello everyone. I am a new member to Daily Strength but have been reading the discussions in this support group for some time now.

I had my first episode back on Thanksgiving eve last year (2011). I converted back on my own fairly quickly and did not have another episode until early in August of this year. This time it was off and on for three weeks. I became very anxious, stressed and could not sleep for many of those days. My doctor is prescribing the "pill-in-pocket" treatment plan for now. I am to take Propafenone when I have an episode to see if that works. I also take Atenolol for HBP and rate control.

I have been Afib free for about 9 days now and am thankful for that but wonder when the next episode is coming. I must say, the discussions and posts on this website have been most helpful and have relieved some of the anxiety I have had with this condition.

I have a question for any and all who might care to answer. Has episodes of Afib caused any of you to miss work? When I had several days in a row of Afib earlier this month, it caused me to miss work due to the anxiety, stress and sleeplessness. I believe some of that was due to this being something new for me and not really knowing how to cope or what to expect from this condition. However, I find it hard to focus when I am in Afib and performing work functions is difficult for me.

I look forward to your replies and thanks again for all of the discussions and posts, it has helped me quite a bit.



When I first started having episodes of afib, about eleven years ago, they were few and far between. I was taking inderal for blood pressure, so that worked to keep the rate down. I found I was able to tolerate the episodes well, and they lasted approx. 5-6 hours, mostly during the night, then converted on there own early in the morning. So for years, these episodes didn't interfere with work. I know it seems strange to say so, but you do get used to them, at least I did, and each one seemed a bit less stressful. As long as they were months apart I did okay with them.

I started back in March having them more frequently, a couple times a week, during a particularly stressful time in my life. It started to wear on my nerves. They also got longer, but seldom lasted more than twelve hours. I continued to work through them. I think the anxiety from the episodes are worse than the episodes themselves. Stress causes more episodes - episodes cause stress - I believe I got caught in a vicious circle where I ended up in and out of afib simply by coughing, turning over in bed, bending over, etc. My EP put me on propafenone about three weeks ago and things have settled down. Don't know how long that will last, but for now, it's better.

To answer your question I missed only one day of work, and it wasn't because of the afib itself but because I felt so depressed by the situation, exhausted and unable to cope that I only wanted to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. This problem we have is like riding an emotional roller coaster. It does get better with time, and becomes less frightening. So hang in there. You'll have bad days, and also better ones, and you'll get through them.

I never felt them and I am persistent. I never miss work. I think that if you remind yourself that you are not going to die from the episode and treat it like an anxiety attack... take deep breaths and try to quietly meditate, I believe you will get through it. petey

Welcome RCK68 - much like what kaymo22 posted, I, too, got kind of used to episodes over time. At first, AF disrupts your life alot upon diagnosis...many doctor visits, anxiety, tests and medication. Once the tests are out of the way and on a treatment plan, it seems like one is able to mentally relax about the condition some and I think that helps make symptoms more manageable. Also, just as pacyetep stated- I remind myself that AF wont kill me it just makes me uncomfortable at times. Take care and am glad you found this support group. Lots of supportive and knowlegeable people here :)

Greetings and welcome to the group.

The more you try to understand about this thing and how it effects you the more capable/confident you'll feel about dealing with it at work.

For me this has presented great difficulties at times in the work place, but I found the less I obsessed about it and the more confident I became in dealing with it (worst case scenario) I managed it better.

PIP, making sure you take your med.s and watch your triggers etc. and have a plan that if you do need to bail or leave early at any given moment - try to do exactly that.

I have been fortunate in the many times I did have to leave, I had back up and the majority of the time I came back an hour or two later and continued on with whatever I was doing. I was also fortunate to have some self-management in my position, for others I could see it being very, very difficult to have to deal with it with someone breathing down your neck right on top of you. Obviously, in some cases subject to what you do as a job, it would be near impossible to deal with - unless you take the rest of the day off and leave.

As Kaymo stated, "You'll have bad days, and also better ones, and you'll get through them." This is very true and we all seem to find a way to get thru this thing as time goes on.

Good luck - Thomas

Hi RCK68, welcome to the group. My experience with afib, lets see my 1st episode of afib started on a Sunday. I did miss the next day of work, Monday. I was so exhausted. I remember sleeping most of the day on Monday. But I did return to work on Tuesday. My 1st episode lasted over 2 months. I worked the whole time. I felt really bad. I finally saw a cardiologist 2 weeks after being in afib. He couldnt believe I was still working and walking around because I was symptomatic.

But I agree, the more you learn about afib and what your triggers are you will feel better about how you deal with things. You never know when afib rears it ugly head. Lot of great info here and people to talk to.

Take care and best wishes


I was diagnosed in February 2012 and every time I had an episode I was so symptomatic that all I could really do was sit. I missed about 20 days of work between Feb. and Memorial day weekend. This was due to lack of sleep, ER visits and hospital stays. It was crazy. It is finally under control for now with sotalol. I was never able to work while having episodes. It will get better, we have all been exactly where you are. Welcome to our group!


I had very infrequent episodes at first, and they never happened at work the first year. After that, the episodes gradually became more and more frequent and I was quite symptomatic and couldn't function at work during an episode. I am a nurse in a busy clinic and it is very fast-paced and stressful much of the time. It got to the point that I wondered if I would have to quit my job because the stress is definitely a big trigger. That is when I found an EP and was put on flecainide. It has been a miracle drug for me...only a couple short episodes (a hour or less) since.
I really understand your difficulty right now. When first diagnosed you have to find out what works for you and it alot of trial and error. I hope you have an understanding boss. I agree that it gets easier to cope over time. I have used the pill in pocket approach in the past, and found it helpful to know I had a plan and a way to minimize the symptoms and convert more quickly. Best wishes.

Afib affects people in different ways. Some people have no or very little symptoms from what I understand. I missed a lot of work and felt like my heart was going to leap out of my chest. I liken it to feeling like I had just run a mile and feeling that way constantly. With medication adjustments and a cardioversion I feel much better but still have days or episodes where I am run down. At other times I am full of energy. It seems to be a day to day issue for me. I can wake up feeling great and go into flutter when I get tired and completely zapped in the late afternoon or night. Of course, it does depend on what you do for a living, whether very physical like construction or an office position. Office jobs are stressful in a while different way. It is pretty much an individual circumstance and how we can deal with it physically and mentally. Afib completely changed my life and it is slowly returning to normal, if there is such a thing. I will say never give up hope and follow what your doctor says. I was told I would feel better once treated for Afib in the very beginning and seriously doubted what my doctor told me but he was right. Attitude and a positive outlook does actually help once diagnosed.
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