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First Verified AFib incident Friday, July 13, 2018
I went to the ER at approx. 8:00 PM Friday, 7/13/18 with an odd feeling in my chest and a heart rate averaging 164 BPM up to 189, per my Polar HRM. Diagnosed as being in AFib VERY quickly by ER staff. I converted to sinus rhythm about 4.5 hrs later (12:30 AM) and then went back into AFib about 17 hours later for a short time. I was released from the hospital around noon on Sunday and was sent home on Eliquis (5 mg, 2X) and Cardizem. On Tuesday, my cardiologist deleted the Cardizem and put me on Sotalol (1/2 80 mg tablet, 2X).
I am 66 years old and am quite active. I exercise regularly, play softball and, most importantly, played hockey 3 plus times a week in the winter. I am VERY concerned about the impact AFib and the associated medications will have on my activity. I know "contact sports" are not recommended for people on blood thinners but our hockey is mostly "old guy" hockey where checking is not permitted. Unfortunately, contact is not totally unavoidable so I am looking for input on people's experiences in this area. My cardiologist was clearly leary of me playing hockey but did not say "no." The cardiologist in the hospital felt it wasn't a big problem given that is not highly competitive and I wear a helmet with a face mask. Additionally, I have been talking to some of my leaguemates and already know of several that have been on blood thinners for some time. All words of wisdom will be appreciated!
Jeanamo815, August 5, 2018 4:25pm EST
Welcome to the forum, Steve. I cannot answer your concern about playing hockey while taking a blood thinner. I suppose there is some risk involved as a head injury could be dangerous. I think if you will re-post in this forum under the AT HOME category, that you may get more responses....more people seem to read the posts there. Since you will be wearing a helmet and a face mask...and since your games are not competitive....perhaps there is iess risk involved. However, it may be wise to talk more with your doctor about this this type of activity. I know you would hate to give uo playing something that you enjoy so much.
We are glad to have you join our forum and hope you will find support and helpful information here. Let us know how you are doing!
Wishing you the best,
(My A-fib Exprience Community Leader)
yollicsa, August 5, 2018 4:32pm EST
Thank you very much for your very timely response. As you suggest, I will re-post this to the "At Home" category.
Spencer, August 5, 2018 4:41pm EST
Steve - I have been told that I have AFib in the ER like eight times in the past nine months. I know when I feel it that can predict that in an AFib and what my HR is about. I also have never been to the ER and not spent a couple of days of being pampered in the ICU or cardiac ICU. What I always look at was an AFib Double Feature. Glad to hear that the ER staff shocked you quick. Too bad it didn't take. I have never got and the cardioversions to work for me... and my doc was trying with 360 Joules each time.
On working out, listen to your doc and forgo the contact sports or anything else that might break the skin. You are on something that denies your blood the ability to clot. So... play it safe. I was getting my nerves tested for a pinched next on Friday. They use small needles only about the size of an inoculation shot. So the happy doc after he was done poking me with needles and then running a car battery through it all, discovered how much my arm and neck were bleeding. He had to get the nurse to come in and apply pressure to the needle sites for about 20 min. So please take it easy. The drugs and fixes the docs have will affect everyone differently. Some go in for surgery and stay on their meds and are out running a week later. Others, myself included, have now become completely exercise intolerant with our lives forever changed. I hope you will be in the former.
So, welcome to this merry band of AFibber's. This site had kept me sane (trust me, I know crazy) on many a cold and dark night when I was up because of my AFib and I couldn't sleep. I can tell you that you can survive on less than an hour of sleep for several weeks.
So tell us what the next step is? Ablation, more drugs, another cardioversion? If you are only 63, you still have a very active life still to live... especially now that you are probably in retirement. Use this site to ask a question or just to rail against the medical establishment. A patient sees medicine with such a different set of eyes and many doctors and nurses have forgotten that point of view.
Hope this helps... if not please huck heavy pointy things in my direction.
In the Sunlight
yollicsa, August 5, 2018 4:55pm EST
Thanks so much for your quick response and your guidance. A couple clarifications on my condition. When I was in the hospital, they started an IV with a rhythm med and gave it a shot to "jump start" the medication. As I mentioned, I converted to NSR about 4.5 hours later and cardioversion was not needed. After a short time of being in rhythm, they stopped the IV and then gave me a pill later that morning for rhythm (beta blocker, I believe). When I went into AFib that afternoon, I converted to NSR again on my own, no additional meds and no cardioversion. Since I have been home, I had a few incidences where I went into AFib and converted back to NSR. The cardiologist's nurse practioner told me that as long as I am taking the Eliquis, don't worry about an AFib episode. Next week, I see the sleep doctor and then I go back to my cardiologist in two weeks.
BTW, I am familiar with that nerve test. I had it long before my AFib incident so I was not on blood thinners but that is a very unpleasant test. Good luck with your health!
Spencer, August 5, 2018 8:18pm EST
Steve - Thanks for the clarification. That is great that you converted via drugs only (I'm jealous). When will you see your EP/Cardiologist again? The nurse advice is good, and probably from someone who has never had AFib nor lived with the anxiety that AFib causes, but doesn't bring you to a solution for your heart. But living with that long-term would not be my choice. Not sure how active your AFib is but mine was painful and with a very HR.
Back on the doc, you know I get confused, I'd talk with him/her about a more permanent solution. It may be as easy as them killing you off with 7,000 volts. You will be asleep at the time (but I was not for one of them), and it takes longer to prep you than the flipping the switch a couple of times. I had an agreement with my EP that he would shock me anytime I came down to the clinic or ER and be in AFib.
Nerve test... yes, someone should have warned on that. But less hurtful than many other things in AFib.
In the Sunlight
MIC, August 5, 2018 9:07pm EST
Steve, Regarding hockey, I have played for over 50 years. After my first afib episode, I was prescribed Eliquis, and my cardiologist told me to sell my hockey equipment and stop playing hockey. I stopped playing hockey for 3 months. After about three months, I had a week of afib incidents, going in and out of afib, and I decided to see an EP. I asked him about hockey, among other things. These were the questions that he asked and the advice that he gave me - but please remember that this advice was tailored to my specific health conditions. He asked me the following questions: Do you wear a helmet? Answer - yes. Do you check? Answer - No. Do you play with a bunch of old men? Answer - yes. He said, Play hockey. If you get hit with a puck, you might bruise a little more. It might take a little longer to heal, but you won't die." I have been playing for 18 months, and so far he has been right. I realize that if a skate blade severs my carotid artery, I am probably going to bleed out regardless of whether or not I am on Eliquis. I have been playing so long that I can modify the way that I play so that I am not putting myself in dangerous situations. I assume that you can do the same thing too. In the last 18 months, I was hit with a slap shot in the shin (in the area between the shin guard and the top of the skate - no pad protection). I got a pretty big bruise, but really no worse than usual. About a month ago, I was hit with another slap shot below the left rib cage (again no padding). I was a little concerned about internal bleeding. No blood in urine or stool. I had a bruise but again no worse than usual. One thing that I do: in the locker room, when I am putting on my skates, I am very careful about the guys who sit next to me. I make sure that no steps on my foot with a skate. I have seen that happen. I also wear a neck guard. I think that my EP's advice removed a lot of stress resulting from afib and allowed me to resume a near normal life. Again, this is my particular experience with anticoagulation and hockey. I would follow your doctor's advice, especially if the doctor is an EP. Good luck!
Babypens, August 6, 2018 1:40pm EST
I don’t play hockey but I LOVE hockey. I was just thinking about this the other day. I take Eliquis and I have season tickets to AHL Penguins games and sit four rows from ice behind the bench. A few times a game pucks have come over the glass and struck people, my then 5 yr old grand- daughter was one. Also my 70 yr old friend got hit in the head at another rink and went to ER for stiches and concussion. I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s just as dangerous in the stands! LOL! I know that’s not true as my 14 yr old grandson plays in travel league and he already was stitched up for skate blade cut on leg. My thought was maybe I shouldn’t go to games since being put on Eliquis for fear of getting hit with puck or give up my awesome seats to sit behind the net. HELL NO! To take hockey away from me would be the end of my life as I know it. I realize this has nothing to do with your problem. But hey, Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Pen in case you don’t know) had a stroke, was put on blood thinners, and still found a way to play in the NHL. Just saying!
yollicsa, August 6, 2018 2:43pm EST
Spencer, MIC and Babypens,
Thanks for weighing in!
To Spencer first, I have not seen an EP yet. I am scheduled to see my cardiologist on August 22 to talk about EPs and next steps. Tomorrow I see the sleep doctor. The episodes of AFib that I have experienced are not painful, just an odd feeling in my chest and a high heart rate. Last night I had an episode that lasted about 4 hours and strapped on my Polar HRM about an hour and a half into it. Heart rate bounced around between 90 and 150 and then suddenly settled back down to low 60s and felt "normal" again. The conversion happened about 45 minutes after taking my regularly scheduled Eliquis and Sotalol dose.
MIC: Your situation sounds VERY similar. We play "old guy" hockey with no checking and, mostly, no slapshots. I have had a neck issue for years so I started wearing a neck guard 20 years ago, mainly to keep my neck warm, with the added benefit of protecting the carotid artery a bit. The cardiologist I talked to in the hospital had the same basic questions and conclusions as your doctor. He did not feel that it was a big risk since the competitiveness level was not that high. Also, as I talk to the hockey guys about this, I find the number of guys I play with/against taking thinners just keeps on growing. I appreciate the advice about the locker room, I hadn't really paid that much attention to that risk but I will be more aware of those sharp blades to my left and right! Good luck on the ice.
Babypens: You are so right about the spectators and you/they don't have any protection against the risks! I take it from your post you are referring to Hershey!? You must remember Steve Oleksy, the former Hershey captain. He is the son of one of an old hockey buddy and I have known the Oleksys since before his parents married. I remember Letang's stroke but I never thought of the stroke/AFib/blood thinner connection.
Babypens, August 6, 2018 3:20pm EST
Oh, no! no! no! Not the Hershey Bears, our biggest rivals. It’s the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins... hence my online name. I do know who Steve Olesky is though as after he played for the Bears he came here and spent some time with my team and even had a shot with the Pitt. Pens. I do not know if Letang’s stroke was Afib related but he did have one. He’s one of my favorites so I follow him closely.
yollicsa, August 7, 2018 8:30pm EST
Soooo sorry about that! Of course he was with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when he was in the Pens organization and not with the big squad, my bad! Hershey was part of that OTHER organization in DC. He spent a lot of time with the Penguins, especially during the Stanley Cup run, even though he didn't crack the lineup in the playoffs. He did get The Cup for a few hours after the Penguins win, very exciting.
Thanks for your support on the AFib and I wish you the best of luck with your health!