Just Starting Life

"My name is Therese and I am 22 years old. I have just completed a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) degree at Curtin University in Western Australia. Volunteering with the State Emergency Service is something I am passionate about, this involves long strenuous work at all hours of day or night. About a year ago, I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AF). I would like to share my experience, particularly for those who have been diagnosed with this condition at a young age. 


In early 2012, I presented several times to the emergency department with episodes of severe chest pain. Following this I had many tests such as exercise stress tests, holter/events monitors, electrocardiograms (ECGs) and echocardiograms. From these I was diagnosed with AF. As an active 22 year old, the condition began to affect my life as I was unable to do my usual activities. My doctors and I discussed the options for treatment. The first options were to use medication to prevent arrhythmias and to slow the heart rate. Over the next six months we tried several medications, but unfortunately I had contraindications and adverse reactions to all options of medications. During this time my conditions became worse. I began to have AF episodes every ten days lasting many hours. The impact on my activities of daily living continued as a result. Physically, I felt 50 years older than what I was. I began feeling useless, as I was not able to work or volunteer at my usual capacity. Something had to be done. After consulting my doctors, it was decided that having the Pulmonary Vein Isolation Ablation was the last resort to eliminate the AF so that I could resume my normal activities.

Prior to the procedure, I had an Electrophysiology Study done to locate the exact area in which the arrhythmia was occurring from in the heart. This would assist the doctors during the ablation. I flew to Adelaide for the procedure. The few days leading up to the procedure, I was beginning to get nervous. Al l sorts of thoughts were running through my head like “Is it really necessary to have the procedure? Maybe I could manage without it” and “what if something goes wrong?” However, deep down I knew it was necessary and I had complete faith in Professor Sanders and his healthcare team. On the day of the procedure, I had a needle put in my arm for medication and with my attractive hospital gown I walked into the operating room and hopped on the operating table. The staff explained everything to me and soon I was asleep. Before I knew it I was in recovery waking up. Over the next 7 hours I was ordered to lie still to help the wounds site to heal over a bit. Everything went well. After three days in hospital and wonderful care, I returned home. 

Due to the amazing effort of the doctors and staff at the Cardiovascular Centre, I had a positive outcome. The first few weeks following, I felt like I had been hit by a train. By the third week after the procedure I felt amazing. I was a new person! I soon resumed my normal activities, I was finally able to graduate and I am now able to do just as much as before and more. I am so grateful to the wonderful staff at the Cardiovascular Centre, without them I wouldn't have the quality of life I have now."

Therese, 2012

  • Professor Sanders says...

    Atrial fibrillation is a consequence of several reversible risk factors - high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, sleep apnoea, and excessive alcohol. Your management of atrial fibrillation must include strict control of these risk factors.

Patient Stories