10 Facts About Afib You Need To Know by Gregory Farrell

If you  periodically get Afib (Atrial Fibrillation) you soon discover that you are in many respects on your own in developing the best  treatment. Here are 10 facts you need to know.

  • Doctors don’t really know what causes your  Afib. This is because Afib is a symptom and is not an actual disease. There is no single cause and many different things can trigger it. The cause is different in different people. T hat is why a cardiologist may put you through a battery of tests.
  • Very often the tests will show there is nothing “wrong” with your heart. Of course, you know that something is wrong. You felt like you were having a heart attack and were about to die and then all the tests show that your heart is strong and healthy. It’s like when your car has a problem, but runs perfectly whenever you bring it to the mechanic. The doctor will probably advise you to take home a portable heart monitor to record the symptoms when you are having them. This is a great idea and with miniaturization the device is not at all cumbersome. You can even electronically send the results to your doctor over the phone.
Warfarin causes 58,000 emergency room visits per year - some fatal

Wafarin causes 58,000 emergency room visits per year – some fatal

  • Some doctors will try to over-medicate you with very dangerous drugs. A large number of doctors have a knee-jerk reaction to immediately prescribe blood thinners as soon as they hear about any issue with the heart. This is completely unnecessary in most people who periodically get Afib symptoms, and is very dangerous. If you have had an Afib episode, you have NOT had a heart attack and don’t need to go on blood thinners.
  • The blood Thinner Wafarin (brand name Coumadin) is the number 1 drug cause of emergency room visits for Seniors, with more that 58,000 visits per year.
Blood thinners can cause a person to actually bleed to death

Blood thinners can cause a person to actually bleed to death

  • Blood Thinners can kill you. They can make your blood so thin that you bleed to death internally with your blood going through the walls of your veins and arteries into your organs. You can find yourself urinating pure blood until you die.
  • Diet and environmental factors are more of an Afib trigger than stress. When you tell  friends about your Afib they will immediately assume it is caused by stress and start giving you advice about how to calm down or meditate or try Yoga, etc.. However, caffeine, high salt diets and alcohol are much more likely to trigger Afib than stress. Other items, like exposure to strong fumes of cleaning fluids, can also trigger an episode
  • Exercise is Good for your Afib, not bad. Your blood pressure actually decreases when you walk or do cardiovascular exercise. The worst thing is just sitting in a desk chair all day.
  • Afib often strikes when you are just going to sleep, or are sleeping. Most people assume that if your heart made it through another stressful day then you are “safe” when you go to bed. However, the shifting of gears from waking to sleeping is when many people report their worst Afib episodes. It can even happen when you are sleeping. A lot of people assume that they are unique in this problem and that it can’t possibly be normal. However, it is very common. Your heart may be great during an afternoon run and then start racing uncontrollably when you try to sleep.

 

Burning the heart for Ablation

Burning the heart for Ablation

  • Surgery to try to fix  Afib is still in the Dark Ages. You cardiologist may recommend the “simple” procedure of Ablation. This is where a tube is fed into a vein and pushed all the way up until it reaches your heart. Then the surgeon will  stimulate different parts of the heart to discover exactly where the errant electronic signals that cause Afiib originate from. Once located, the surgeon will then burn that part of the heart to destroy the nerves sending those signals.  You read that correctly. The surgeon wants to burn a part of your heart. Sometimes the surgeon does not get the right part of the heart, and sometime the burning causes unintended damage. There is no such thing as “minor” heart surgery. It should be used only as a last option.
  • YOU have to take charge of your treatment. Don’t just sit passively and have the doctor make all decisions for you. Each Afib case is different and each patient is different. All drugs have side effects and the effects vary tremendously from person to person.  Make sure you ask about all side effects of all proposed treatment options. If one drug is not working or you feel it is impacting you badly speak up and have your doctor try an alternative.  If that makes you that pain in the ass patient who asks a lot of questions to doctors and nurses, that’s fine. Your goal is not to be the most popular patient. Your goal is to get the best treatment.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.