Philippa's AF and cardiomyopathy


Philippa Sayer only found out she suffered from Atrial Fibrillation after a series of incidents.

The 41-year-old says: "When I started to experience IBS symptoms before a course I thought it was just nerves.

Diagnosing atrial fibrillation

Looking back on it, there were other warning signs I ignored. I felt puffed walking up stairs but I put it down to being unfit, and I had heart palpitations but I've suffered from those for 20 years so I didn't think much of it.

"I have two young children and there was a lot going on with work so I was stressed, and I thought it must have been something to do with that.

"When I went on the course, I almost passed out. I felt unwell for the entire two weeks.

"Then a few weeks after I got home, I started to feel even worse. I had unbearable pain in my abdomen and it was very difficult to walk.

"When I went to the doctor about it he said I might have gall stones. I went for a test, but a week later I collapsed.

"It was only when I was sent for an ultrasound of my abdomen that it was picked up. The ultrasound technician also scanned my lungs and my heart, and realised there was something wrong.

"It turned out I had atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy and my heart was beating at more than 185 beats per minute. My doctor was stunned. I had to spend 13 days in hospital.

Warning signs of a serious heart condition

"Looking back on it, there were other warning signs I ignored. I felt puffed walking up stairs but I put it down to being unfit, and I had heart palpitations but I’ve suffered from those for 20 years, so I didn’t think much of it.

"I'm on warfarin, among other medications, but my heart rhythm is back to normal. I found the whole experience very surreal.

"I had checked my pulse and it was always weak. Had I known this was a sign that there might be something wrong with my heart I would have done something earlier.

"Not everyone with atrial fibrillation has symptoms, so it's really important people check their pulse. It's so easy to do and it only takes a few minutes."

What is atrial fibrillation? 

Irregular pulse is one potential symptom of atrial fibrillation, one of the most common forms of an abnormal heart rhythm. Other symptoms can include palpitations, tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness or feeling faint.

Others with atrial fibrillation

Around 950,000 people in the UK have atrial fibrillation. Here are more stories of people with atrial fibrillation:

John's successful ablation
Ian's atrial fibrillation
Alan's pacemaker

Support life saving heart research

BHF Professor Barbara Casadei is taking on the challenges of atrial fibrillation. She has been awarded over £1.9 million to look into the causes of atrial fibrillation and come up with new and improved treatments for patients.

Your donations help fund research like Professor Casadei's and help us make the lives of people like Philippa better. With your help we can continue to pave the way in medical research on heart disease. Consider making a donation today to support our research.