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New to A fib
Last week I started feeling chest discomfort, including shortness of breath...to the point where I could not sleep. I went to a pulmonary doctor who immediately put me in the hospital because my heart was beating 160 times per minute. Everything was going so fast with the many people working hard to get my heart right, right in the middle of this pandemic. None of my family could come in the hospital and we were getting information very sporadically. As you can imagine my wife, kids, family were very on edge. About (5) hours in, the head ER doctor came in and gave me news that I was in A-fib and a genuine quick description of what I was dealing with. I was admitted and the following morning a Cardio doctor gave me a more comprehensive ideal of what I was to go through. Here is where it got weird. The next (4) hours the hospital put me through a barrage of test. By this time my heart was beating 70X a minute and they were weining me off IV bags and onto pills. My wife came to the hospital later that afternoon and we patiently waited for the Cardio doctor to come and review all the test results. Instead, the nurse came to the room and abruptly discharged me. Not a problem, I wanted to go home... but I wanted to know what was next. She told me to go to my drugstore and pick up some Eliquis and Diltiazem blood thinners. I started the medications and called the Cardio doctor and they arranged my follow up in two weeks. I’m assuming they want to see how I respond to the drugs before they review everything with me. There is my story, and here are my questions:
1) I have been checking my vitals, heartbeat about 70-80, blood pressure good, oxygen around 95. I am still experiencing discomfort in my chest... is that normal? I read that A fib symptoms can last up to seven days. Not sure if I should be touching this out, or contacting the doctor. It continues to cause me restless nights
2) can I exert myself such as walking on a treadmill or lifting. Might sound a little over concerning but I never got a chance to ask all the questions I had. Everyone keeps telling me to take it easy, but I need to at least do some menial things around here
Anyone who can give me advice would be appreciated. I know that there are different levels of A-fib, and I’m sure the doctor will explain to me what is going on with me when my appointment comes around. But for now it would nice to hear that this chest discomfort is normal for the next week
tolsen53, July 13, 2020 1:29pm EST
Hey Razor - You are starting the right way - asking questions. Start doing some online research on a-fib, the more knowledge you and your family gain, the better your questions will be for your cariologist. Hopefully they will refer your to an electrophysiologist, who specializes in a-fib. It's normal to feel freaked out about a-fib, it feels really weird , and each of us has a different physical reaction to being in a-fib, and then to constantly checking our bodies when we feel normal, to make sure we are in fact normal.
As to your questions - what do you mean by discoomfort in your chest? If you arew talking about a strong feeling of pressure on your chest over your heart, that is probably a sigfnal to get yourself to ER right away. If you are talking about just feeling sore in your chest, that could be because when your heart was racing and fluctuating, it put strain on tghe heart, which is a muscle. So just like if you did too much heavy weight lifting, you might strain the muscle, and feel the ache for a while.
You say your HR is 70-80. Is it a steady beat, or erratic. Could be 70-80 fluctuating a lot, which could be a-fib. If you have one, use a pulse-oximiter (the little thing the docs nurse puts on your pointer finger, to watch your HR in real time
Not sure what you mean by a-fib symptoms. Many people go in and out of a-fib daily, sometimes over longer spans, and convet back to normal rhythm on their own. Sometimes you go into a-fib, and stay that way for a long period of time, or until Dr cardioverts you back to normal rhythm.
As to question 2 - There are folks who are in permanent a-fib, and live a relatively normal life - they run, play sports, etc. My only personal advice if doing exercise is to moderate it, ramp it down a bit, and when doing any exercise, mentally monitor your body for reaction. Exercise for some people is a trigger for an a-fib incident, but not for most.
I've had a-fib for 17 years, am 67 now, have had at least 17 cardio-versions, where they shock heart back to normal rhythm, and I have had 4 ablations, the latest about 4 months ago.
There is no cure for a-fib at this time, but many people who have 1 a-fib incoident may go many many years without anorther one. Some have permanent a-fib, and use a drug regimen to keep rate and rhythm in control.
Hope this helps you a bit as you deal with this new thing. Good luck.
BethClark, July 14, 2020 9:50am EST
Well, being discharged so abruptly without having more of an explanation would certainly add to the stress of being diagnosed with aFib. But maybe in the time of covid getting people out of the hospital as quickly as possible is changing some of what would have been normal processes. There is a whole lot of information on stopafib.org about aFib. Learning as much as you can before going into your first appointment will enable you to ask useful questions and should help to reduce some anxiety that comes with this diagnosis for many of us. For me it works well if I write down my questions ahead of time. Otherwise by the time I get there I've forgotten some of them.
In the postings on this forum many people talk about how anxious they are after being first diagnosed. I was sure that life as I knew it was over. My doctor told me I'd be able to live a normal life with aFib. At the time I couldn't understand how that would be possible. Over four years later I can tell you that it is my worry that the aFib will happen again that limits me from doing things, not the aFib. I've been scared about traveling, for instance. The "what if aFib happens and I'd have to find a hospital" worry tape keeps going through my head. (My doctor's comment was that there is 911 everywhere and their job is to help.) I have had only two episodes and the second episode was four years ago. The meds I'm on are controlling it.
The Eliquis that they are having you take is the blood thinner. The biggest danger with aFib is stroke so that is why they put you on the blood thinner. The diltiazem is a channel blocker. It lowers the heart rate and is also used for chest pain, according to the drug description. That was the drug that they used to stop my aFib both times I ended up with an episode. There are a number of drugs that are used with aFib. It sometimes takes trial and error to come up with what will work best for you. Typically people are started on drugs to control aFib. There are some procedures that might be offered later if the drug therapy isn't controlling it. You'll hear a lot about ablations on this forum.
We're all different with our aFib. Maybe some people have chest pain with it. That wasn't my experience so I can't comment on that. If you are really worried about it, and especially if it has changed since you went through all the tests, then I'd think a trip to the ER would be appropriate. If it is the same then perhaps you could call the cardioligist's office and get their advice about whether they think you should be seen before your scheduled appointment.
Razor1643, July 16, 2020 5:56am EST
Thank you guys for the responses. I guess my welcome into this world has been quite weird. First, I was abruptly discharged from the hospital without talking to any doctor about the test I had taken all that day, what meds I would be taking and why, what type of doctor I needed to see, nothing, Notta!! Very unusual because I was admitted to a very good facility and wasn’t prepared for this. To make matters worse I was taken off the IV drips earlier that morning that got my heartbeat back to normal, onto pills. By the time I was being released, I told the nurse that the discomfort In my chest was back and she kinda shrugged it off as me being over dramatic I guess. That was a Wednesday night and by Friday it had gotten to the point where I felt I needed to go back to the ER, but the nurse gave me a complex and I didn’t want to waste people’s time during this pandemic. I had ordered a Kardia device off Amazon and it arrived quickly on that Saturday. Up to that point, I had been using y daughter’s device that you clip on your finger. It was giving me normal readings, but I knew something was not right. I instantly tested and sure enough was beating around 150 bpm. I made it to Monday morning and called the Cardio doctor who made a visit to me when I first arrived to the ER. Found out he was my doctor and I had an appointment in ten days. Glad I was told this at the hospital?? When I told them about my condition, they said they would call me right back. When they called back, it was in a panic state. Apparently, the hospital forgot to prescribe me Metoprolol with my Eliquis and Diltiazen prescriptions. Apparently, the drug that I needed the most, was forgotten. I quickly went to pharmacy and picked them up and happy to report I am beating around 70 bpm now. Don’t know enough to say if I was flirting with danger during those five days, but it sure seemed like it. Unfortunately, because of the sorry experience I have had, my first visit with this cardiologist will be an interview instead of a follow up. I have been told by numerous people that I should take my health care into my own hands and don’t rely on the system to do right by me. This site and all that I have read has allowed me a list of legitimate questions now to ask. But there is so much more like why can’t I get a good night sleep. I wake up throughout the night feeling like my heart is racing to jump out of my chest? I probably need to navigate to other threads for answers. I see a lot of things like WCW and other three letter descriptions. So I guess my journey now begins!
Thumper2, July 17, 2020 7:50am EST
Razor1643, sorry to hear of your ER experiences! I'm glad you're going to see a cardiologist -- I hope he/she is an electrophysiologist (EP), i.e., a cardiologist who specializes in AFib and can spell out options for you. As for your sleeping problems, have you been tested for sleep apnea? It may be that you will need a CPAP machine to help with that --your EP would be able to describe how that would work. Many folks on this forum have sleep apnea, use CPAPs, and would not be without them. Please keep us posted, and feel free to ask any other questions! All the best,
Ann12345, July 21, 2020 11:42am EST
My doctor said to call his office if an episode lasted more than 24 hours.