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New Community Member: Guidance Regarding Treatment/Procedure for A-Fib
Hello A-Fib Community. I am new to this site and I look forward to learning and sharing. I am a 52 year old female with an extremely busy life (work and home). In Nov. '19, I was diagnosed with A-Fib, since then, I have been on a blood thinner medication; and beginning in Janury '20, a beta block. Last week for several days, I was in A-Fib and ended up in the hospital, at the suggestion of my cardiologist. While there, I received no treatment different from being at home; however, an ablation was recommended for me. I am otherwise not suffering from any major conditions. However, since last year, I have not had major improvements. I was told the plumbing of my heart was great, but the electrical is not doing what it should be doing. I have a strong preference to not have to undergo the procedure. [I work long, stressful hours, sleep sometimes inconsistent, since Nov '19 no consumption of alcohol; prior to that I drank socially; good low fat diet -- no red meat or pork, I exercise]
I would appreciate your feedback regarding options and in particular, whether I should get the procedure done, or change lifestyle.
I greatly appreciate any feedback. Thank you!!!
Kelly2, October 5, 2020 8:05pm EST
I am a 50 year old very fit women who was also diagnosed in 2019 with AFib. After six months of low dose of metoprolol I still experience heart palpitations. The concern from doctors for me is I have very low blood pressure and other meds would make it drop more, I run 5 times a week no other health conditions at all. They are suggesting I do a procedure called ablation. I'm concerned about any procedure but don't want to cause further damage or have to keep adding new meds only to get no relief. Help!!
frankangelo, October 5, 2020 10:54pm EST
I am also new to this forum but not to AFib. I was diagnosed 8 years ago. I am only on a blood thinner, Eliquis. I do have an appointment for an ablation in December. A-fib is a progressive disease. It varies and how quickly it progresses and is not always predictable. An excellent book that just came out is titled restart your heart. The author is dr. Aseem Desai. It is loaded with a lot of information that I think you would find helpful. Everyone's afib is different. I have never had to go to the hospital because of my AFib. Did you go to the hospital because your heart rate was too high? I would say definitely do your research and talk to doctors that you trust. If you do decide on ablation the sooner the better is the recommendation. I have procrastinated because it's a scary proposition and also because my symptoms are not that bad. If you do decide to go ahead with an ablation it is very important that you find an electrophysiologist with tons and tons of experience with good results. Good luck in your journey dealing with Afib.
Thumper2, October 6, 2020 8:34am EST
Winja, welcome to the group! You've already gotten good advice from frankangelo. Let me emphasize a couple of points. Be sure to see an electrophysiologist (EP) --they are the cardiologists who specialize in AFib,i.e., the heart's electrical system. Find one who has done hundreds of ablations successfully -- having an ablation is the closest thing to a "cure" that one can get for AFib. Do not decide to just "live with" Afib. I did that inadvertently because my cardiologist was not up-to-date on AFib and thought ablations were risky. (Maybe when he was younger, they were, but that whole field has advanced rapidly in the last few decades). I was asymptomatic, but after 8 years (and seeing a new cardiologist), I discovered my heart had quietly and badly deteriorated. I have had ablations,and they are not bad at all. Basically, they are a "procedure" (not surgery)-- you go in one day and may be out the same day or else just stay overnight. Recovery is usually a matter of a few days. While lifestyle changes are a good thing, they generally cannot make your heart stay in NSR (normal sinus rhythm).
I would also suggest that you check to see if you have sleep apnea. If you do, and are treating it, there is evidence that that will add to the success rate of an ablation.
You sound like someone who is interested in learning more about AFib. Think about signing up for the annual conference, "Get in Rhythm,Stay in Rhythm," organized by Melanie True Hills, who started the blog, "StopAfib.org," and taking place virtually this year, at the end of October. It's affordable ($47) and since you have a busy schedule, you might want to pay a bit more, to get the tapes of the conference, for later viewing. Many of the world's most well-known electrophysiologists will be speaking there.
We wish you the best -- keep us posted!
DkinAA, October 6, 2020 8:56am EST
If you can see an EP ( Electrophysiologist) you should - they specialize in heart rhythm problems. Most EPs will start with drugs, first with a rate control drug like a beta blocker, then drugs that more directly keep the heart in rhythm. Many people do just fine for many years on this. After a few years on rate control, I am now on a rhythm control drug and doing well. Afib tends to get worse with time. Ablation, as people say, is the closest thing to a cure, but more than one can be required. That may be in my future, but I'm naturally conservative about anything invasive, so I'll wait and see. An experienced EP is essential for ablation.
The most important thing: afib is a very individual condition, and everybody reacts differently to drugs, both in terms of side effects and the main effects. Getting the drug and the dosage right is key. Lifestyle changes, like reducing stress, better diet and exercise, and treating sleep apnea, can also help a lot..
This is why it is important to have a good EP who you can help you find what works best for you.
MellanieSAF, October 7, 2020 9:41am EST
You've gotten great advice. And, Judy gave you the advice I'd give - see an electrophysiologist, get tested for sleep apnea, and attend the patient conference. Your timing is good as the annual conference is at the end of this month. Our opening keynoter, Dr. Frank Marchlinski (the EP our doctors look up to), will address lifestyle, including sleep apnea (50%-70% of those with afib also have sleep apnea).
Superjew72, October 8, 2020 5:58pm EST
Winja like yourself I suffered from A-fib starting at age 699 for a few years I was on Xarelto Blood thinners. My afib used to come and go infrequently so I decided to get off the blood thinners myself. One day I was swimming in my pool for hours with my Grandaughter I felt nausea and sickness. I have a device called Kardia that is FDA approved to detect a-fib. I tested myself and my heart was beating at 180 beats per minute. I sat down tried to stay calm and retake my vitals it didn't change. I went to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital. at the hospital, they immediately gave me intravenous blood thinners. I stayed for 2 days until the a-fib was brought under control. After I was released I went to my cardiologist. He recommended an electrophysiologist he recommended a procedure called an Ablation. It is an operation under general anesthesia for 2 to three hours. Stayed in the hospital overnight. I stayed on blood thinners for 6 months with no a-fib episodes. The doctor recommended discontinuing Blood thinners and I have been A-fib free for over one year Look into an Ablation get the right Doctor and maybe you can have the same results.
dsavoie1953, October 12, 2020 8:40am EST
It depends on you but do not wait too long with long term AFIB persistence because it will cause your heart to work harder and may cause dilation in your left chambers.
In my experience I would get all these baseline test done prior to an Ablation procedure - CT scan and score, ECHO and ECHO treadmill, Nuclear Heart MPI and definitely a Sleep Apnea test results if possible prior to your RF Ablation.
Stop consuming sugar and process foods make life style changes - research life style diet. Reduce BMI etc.
Contact an experienced Electrophysiologist (EP) one that had 4,000 + of successfull RF ablations under their watch. One you can trust!!!!
Do not rely on your Cardiologist EP ... you research your own and use the best. Remember there are risk.
I had an RF Ablation successfully done on August 3rd by Texas Cardiac Arhythmma Austin Texas after persistent AFIB for 5 months.
Contact me directly if you need further opinions or further information regarding my experience.
Find a successful cardiologist and EP that will work as a TEAM!
WinJa, October 12, 2020 10:40am EST
I want to express my great appreciation to eveyone who replied to my post. The information I received is valuable. I will certainly purchase the book suggested by Frank Angelo and sign up to attend the conference recommended by Judy. For those who offerred to speak, I am grateful ahead of speaking for offering your time and I will be reaching out, as I do not know many people with A-Fibl with whom I can speak. I have already seen an Electrophysiologist that was recommended by my cardiologist; however, I felt that the recommendation for an ablation was rather quick. I've also sought and received a second opinion from another Electrophysiologist who suggested that I may want to take some more time to make lifestyle changes while considering other options, including an ablation should nothing else work within the next 3-6 months. I have a very low tolerance for medication, and an even lower tolerance for invasive surgery as well as a health doze of fear of both. I did a sleep study and requested a CPAP machine (programmed to level 6, which is relatively low when you consider the lowest setting at a 4). I am working on reducing stress and losing weight.
Once again, I greatly appreciate all of your invaluable feedback. WinJa
TR, October 13, 2020 5:00am EST
Here's a link to what I think is an excellent article for anyone considering an ablation. I've posted it many times on the forum and people are probably getting sick of it, but for a newcomer I think it's valuable. Best of luck to you.