I didn’t know what was going on at first

Photo of a grandmother with her grandchild

Edith, 71 years old:

“I didn’t know what was going on at first, and was scared that I might be having a heart attack. I felt a lot of pressure on my chest and it felt tight.”

I had for the first time about four years ago. I didn’t know what was going on at first, and was scared that I might be having a . I felt a lot of pressure on my chest and it felt tight. So my husband drove me to the hospital, where they told me that I had . I had no idea what that was.

The doctors at the hospital gave me something to calm my nerves at first. The next morning the went away on its own again.

It isn't clear what is causing my . I have high blood pressure. I take a beta blocker for that every day now.

I have learned to deal with it

The kept coming back, at increasingly shorter intervals, especially at night or late in the evening. Until I started having it every two to three weeks. I found that really worrying at first. I was very scared.

Over time I have learned to deal with it. It also didn’t take me long to notice when it was starting up again. My heart would start racing. Then I took my medication and it usually went away again after one or two hours. If I didn’t take the medication, it sometimes lasted a whole night. After a while it didn’t scare me as much because I knew that it was and not a or anything.

Sometimes the doctors at the hospital treated it with electric shocks too. That was always done under general anesthetic. I was really frightened the first time they did it. But it was over really quickly and I was awake again before I knew it. I couldn’t remember having the treatment itself.

The exhaustion was a big problem

Around that time I talked to a lot of friends and other people. One of them told me that he had had surgery called ablation, and that he didn’t have any symptoms after that. That really caught my interest because the frequent episodes of had become quite a problem for me.

I always felt completely knocked out and physically exhausted in the first few days afterwards. That was actually the worst thing for me. I could cope with the , but the way I felt afterwards was a big problem. I felt like I had no energy.

I had surgery and am very happy with the outcome

So I ended up having the surgery last year. But they damaged one of my veins during the operation so I had to stay in the hospital longer than originally planned. That weakened me physically, and it took a really long time for me to recover. I felt very weak, hardly managed to climb stairs and couldn’t lift any heavy objects without getting out of breath. That’s better now, though. I still get really out of breath if I have to climb a lot of stairs, but that might just be my age now too. I’ve been doing really well otherwise. I haven’t had since the surgery. I’m very happy with the outcome. But everyone’s body is different, and the operation doesn’t always work this well. So I find it hard to advise other people to go for it too.

I do water aerobics three to four times a week, I work in the garden, and I look after my grandchildren. I’m grateful every day and happy with my life.


Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Updated on January 5, 2021

Next planned update: 2024


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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