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patrickg, May 12,  2018  8:53am EST

AFib and Colonoscopy

So after going through the hellish colonoscopy prep procedure on Thursday, I woke up yesterday feeling dehydrated with muscle cramps, but proceeded through to my colonoscopy appointment. While they were prepping me for the procedure and hooked me up to a monitor, my HR was elevated to 130-140 BPM, so the procedure was aborted and I was transported via ambulance to the ER.

I was put on IV Cardizem which brought my HR down to 80-90 which is what it still is this morning as I am still in aFib. The doctor I met with yesterday here in the hospital said it is very common for the colonoscopy prep process to flush out all potassium and result in aFib events. Also, I was anxious about being off Pradaxa since Wednesday night and counting down that 48 hour borderline and stroke risk.

Hopefully I will meet with my EP today and begin the Tikosyn process while I am in hospital. In retrospect, I should have done this before the colonoscopy, but my HR and BP were normal until the colonoscopy prep process.

Question: since my colonoscopy was canceled, I will need to reschedule and go through another prep process. Is there an alternative procedure or product that won’t deplete potassium level and result in another aFib event? Needless to say, I am quite hesitant to do this again and end up in an ambulance headed to the ER.



  • Spencer
    Spencer, May 12,  2018  10:12am EST

    Patrick - what's wrong with an ambulence?  You get to ride in the back and go really fast with the sirens going?.  I've done it three times and had a great deal of fun... oh, that's right I was unconsciounes for two of them and the other I was having a heart attack at the time.  Not sure what to say on the high HR.  Were you nervous?  You might want to ask for a little bit of something to relax you (I suggest two fingers of scotch).  You could also ask for a K and Mg IV drip while they do the procedure.  I know each time I show up in the ER they just throw the IV two bags at me and tell me to start on that first.  I guess, I'm a frequent visitor at the ER.  I also have to keep the K drip slow as it burns like a mother going in.

    For me, I am waiting till my EP inserts the cardiac monitor in me before I can come off the blood thinners so they can do the full roto-rooter on me as I have had continuous dark/black bloody stools for several weeks now.  I think they are going to need to go in the intake and outtake to find out what else is broken inside me.

    Tell us how it goes with the Tik.  I did that for four days in the ICU.  Sort of worked then I became Abnormal and Tachy and they just decided to shock me again just for fun before paroling be back into the wild.  Attached is a pix of me working out of the ICU while on Tik.

  • Jeanamo815
    Jeanamo815, May 12,  2018  10:48am EST

    Hello, Patrick!  I can understand your disappointment and concern about having your colonoscopy aborted in the way it was.  I hope the Tikosyn works well for you.

    Perhaps your gastroenterologist can use a different prep forumla for you.  Ask him if there is another option that will not deplete your potassium level so much.  My gastroenterologist uses what is essentially a heavy dose of Miralax (with a different name) and is mixed with Gatorade in order not to affect the electrolites so much.  You may have had this same "concoction" but there may be others that will work better for you.  I hope that you are soon out of the hospital and feeling better.  I know you were anxious about discontinueing the Pradaxa to avoid the risk of stroke. Please let us know how you are doing in the next few days.

    Wishing you the best,


    (My A-Fib Experience Community Leader)

  • patrickg
    patrickg, May 12,  2018  2:01pm EST

     Thanks Jean for your response and advice. I also used MiraLAX but mixed it with Crystal light instead of Gatorade so I will try Gatorade next time. And thanks for your continued positive presence on this forum! 

    And Spencer, I feel your pain! Compared to your experience, I am a relative newbie to this journey. I will be starting Tikosyn tonight and hope that will do the trick. If not, I will be seeing another cardioversion or my first ablation. Little scary, the ablation, so hoping the Tikosyn will work.

    But hey, who was it that said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”?

  • Spencer
    Spencer, May 12,  2018  2:17pm EST

    Patrick - The Tik load is no big deal.  It is just boring as hell as you in the hospital, feel fine but they are watching you like a hawk on your heart.  I got them to put me on a Tele-monitor and then I wondered all over the ICU.  Got in 10,000 steps per day and even escaped the ICU with my IV stand being pulled with me to get something to eat.  Just walk past people like you belong there and no one will ever question why you are there.  Had a hard time finding a place to put my wallet in the hospital gown and there might have been a little bit of mooning going on.  

    For your enjoyment here are ten things you know when you have been in the ICU too long... (this came from my 15th to 18th day in the ICU):

    You known when you have been in the ICU too much when…
    1. You have a song list on your phone called “ICU Music”
    2. You know the first name of each nurse there and know their work schedule
    3. You know their WiFi Password
    4. You know what to bring to make your stay more comfortable (warm socks, sweats, and protein bars)
    5. You have a favorite room
    6. You have the ICU phone number in your contact list
    7. You can read an EKG better than most nurses
    8. You know what NPO order stands for (nil per os – nothing by mouth)
    9. You have a small collection of wrist bands

    Send us a pix, Pat!  Tell us what you are doing.


    Still Crazy!  And now certified to be so

  • Jeanamo815
    Jeanamo815, May 12,  2018  4:08pm EST

    Patrick, I hope the Tikosyn works well for you as it has for a lot of people in this community.  I know the thought of an ablation can be "scary" and cause anxiety.  However, most of us who've had ablations did not have a problem with the procedure or recovery.  There are some who've had complications.  If you consider ablation in the future (on your doctor's recommendation), you will find that for some people one ablation can be successful.  For others, like me, it can take repeat ablations.  I've had 3 ablations and the 3rd one has kept me in NSR for more than 3 1/2 I do not regret having them at all.  I still take Eliquis as a safeguard against stroke should the a-fib return...but I do not take any rhythm or rate control medications.  During the period when I was having frequent a-fib episodes, I had two cardioversions and they only lasted for a few days each time.  I was taking Sotalol at the time of my last ablation and continued on it for about  5 or 6 months gradually decreasing the dosage until I was no longer taking it at all.  There is some thought that having an ablation "sooner" rather than "later" can be more effective.  This is something you may want to discuss with your EP if Tikosyn does not work well for you.  Being in the care of a good and experienced electrophysiologist is important.

    I hope your "Tikosyn trial" is successful and that you will go home feeling lots better!  Keep in touch!

    Best wishes,


    (My A-fib Experience Community Leader)

  • depotdoug
    depotdoug, May 12,  2018  5:49pm EST

    I did about the same as you High very high BP at COLONOSCOPY preparation room.

    Never made it to 1st shot at Colonoscopy took me to ER two floors down. Where they gave me Cardizem BP dropped but so was my Potassium and every other electrolytes in my body. Didn’t even know I was in AFIB. Colonoscopy preparation is a definite AFiB inducer. Oh by the way I Through up(vomited) my BP meds the morning of my Colonoscopy tooo. Not a good day about 3 years. ER wanted to keep me overnight in Carduac observation but I said I’d see my Cardiologist the next Morning. What a deal

  • Myrna
    Myrna, May 12,  2018  5:54pm EST

    I also need to have a colonoscopy done and I didn't realize the problem that potassium loss would cause. I have parox afib and I seem to go into afib once weekly for 24 hrs usually when I'm overtired, run down , dehydrated or who knows why. Anyways, I don't want to go off Eliquis and was offered the alternative of either a CT colongraphy or I could do nothing, as if a tumor is slow growing it could take 7-10 yrs.  In my case I suspect that I erred in the stool sample test as I didn't wait 3 days until I didn't have some hemorrhoid blood, feel like an idiot but anyways. And I couldn't repeat that test .Also the new stool test last year was known to have false positives.

    I told my dr that I would do the CT colongraphy test- I don't have to do a contrast dye, which is good because I am allergic to contrast dyes. And I can stay on Eliquis or a blood thinner so I don't have to worry about having a stroke. Still have to do the cleansing prep. I'm on 2 diuretics and I take 6 potassium pills a day to supplement that , I'll have to check with my dr about the dehydration and potassium loss. In the past when I've gotten depleted on electrolytes etc due to illness, dieting, usually my dr either boosts my supplements or an electrolyte drink like :G2 that sports people use I think, whatever he recommends.:they are clear fluids with different levels of poassium, sodium, sugar and carbs. 

    The CT colongraphy test isn't as revealing as the colonscope one, which my dr said is the gold standard and they like people to use because they get a better picture, check things out, deal with polyps etc. at the time. The one I'll be using won't show if there's some flat tumors or something like that but I feel safer with it and then see what the results are and deal with that then. I know that both my dr and GI would prefer I do the colonoscopy.Hope not but if they find something may still be asked to do a colonoscopy.

    Talk to your dr with your concerns, ask about a CT colonoscopy if you think that may be an option for you and definitely talk to your dr and pharmacist about potassium, electrolyte replacements or how not to end up dehydrated and deficient in electrolytes when you need to do the prep for the test. 

    Good luck on whatever you do and keep us posted on how it goes and what your dr suggests for your potassium replacement and to avoid dehydration, take care and hope you and us all stay in NSR and keep healthy. 



  • patrickg
    patrickg, May 12,  2018  7:38pm EST

    Myrna, Thanks for the info on the colonography; I will definitely talk to my EP and Gastro about this option. It will at least eliminate the anxiety of being off Pradaxa and possible stroke risk, and as you suggest, if it shows something that requires the colonoscopy to remove polyps, then deal with it from there, but hopefully it won’t.

    Depotdoug, I was instructed to NOT take any meds morning of the procedure, including my heart meds, which may have contributed to the event taking a southward turn. No doubt that, as well as worrying about counting down to that 48 hour threshold of being off Pradaxa, boosted my anxiety level which along with my depleted Potassium levels, helped spike my HR and aborted the procedure.

    And Jean, Thanks again for your calming and assuring counsel. I was a little surprised to read that you are awake during the entire ablation procedure. Can you share your experience during your ablations? My anxiety level has dropped tremendously since yesterday and I need a boost! 8)

    Lastly Spencer, your posts add much-needed humor to all of us sailing in the same aFib boat! I liked your list, as I asked my nurse this morning what NPO meant when she posted it on my door, and she said “I have no idea what the letters stand for, but it means you ain’t getting anything to eat or drink!”. 

    As far as what I’ve been doing, pretty much catching up with food nutrients after not eating 2+ days prior to my colonoscopy disaster (the chow is actually quite decent here; I gained a few pounds last time I was here for 3 days!), catching up with my reading (see pic hanging out with one of my favorite mentors!), and hanging out with you nice folks here on my favorite aFib forum! 

    Regatds to all,


  • Spencer
    Spencer, May 12,  2018  8:09pm EST

    Patrick - Now you can tell the nurse that she should know her Latin!  Not sure why the pix are getting inverted.  Must be an issue with the website.

    If you want, I can repost my whole ordeal of Tik in the ICU and getting shocked for fun and profit.  This happened to me back in Nov last year.  You might find it a good read.  Just tell me.

  • depotdoug
    depotdoug, May 12,  2018  8:18pm EST

    Interesting Inverted people pics. That seems to be my life whenever I enter the hospital. Inverted DOUG. I mean go in with one problem they find two. Maybe my life was inverted when my Sudden Cardiac Arrest happened 7 years ago today. 

    I just remembered this is my Re - Birth anniversary from 7 years ago. Glad to be ALIVE! 

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