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Just diagnosed--can't wrap my head around it
I am having a hard time too. I went to bed last Friday, 3/8, and couldn't go to sleep because my heart was pounding so hard it felt like it was a drum beating on my mattress. I have never had that happen before. I had had flutters for a couple weeks off & on after my company left, but didn't think about it. This time I couldn't ignore it. My heart was beating so hard I thought it would stop beating altogether just from wearing itself out, so I called the police dept and asked them to call RMSA. They got here within 15 minutes, lights flashing, waking up all the neighbors, hooked me up to their portable EKG, got alarmed and loaded me into the ambulance. I was still in my PJs and robe with slippers. We left in such a hurry that the paramedic couldn't even lock my door right. I went into a WOP mode (whatever that is) on the way to the hospital. I was shaking uncontrollably and shivering like I was in a snowstorm even though the ambulance was warm. So got to the hospital and they gave me baby aspirin and Pepsid, then some other drug, and finally after about two hours my heart went back into rhythm and I could go home. I can't figure out what caused it. I have low blood pressure and am in excellent health, or thought I was. I'm scared, terrified, and the more I read the more scared I get. I read that people with afib have shorter life spans. I'm on Xarelto now, and was told I would probably be on it for life, which means if I'm in an accident I could bleed to death before I could get help. I have no one to talk to. No one in my family has any heart problems even though my dad did. The doc still hasn't scheduled me in. I wish I had a friend to talk to about this. I have no idea now what my future will be like. Can anyone shed some light on this for me?
DkinAA, March 14, 2019 1:23pm EST
I should have chimed in sooner because I'm kinda at the opposite extreme from Spencer, who I really enjoy reading. I was diagnosed with paroxysmal afib Fall 2015, and was prescribed diltiazem for rate control and Xarelto and more recently, Eliquis. At first the afib episodes were frequent and really rough. Having some background in psychology, I realized that part of the problem is the old question of whether our emotions are reactions to our body state, or vice versa. If you are really upset, your heart can go crazy. If your heart goes crazy, you feel really upset -- a feedback loop that makes it worse than it really is. Your heart really is doing a crazy thing on its own, and that would make you feel upset even before you get to the issue of worries about your health prospects. So yes, anxiety seems to be part of the package!
I finally got used to the situation -- if you're on an anticoagulant, you are protected from the biggest problem, a stroke, and then you can focus on dealing with how this condition feels and what to do about it. The most important thing is that afib is a very idiosyncratic -- individual -- condition, and so we all have to find out what works for us individually. For me, the biggest trigger for an episode seems to be getting dehydrated, followed by getting really upset like in an especially stressful meeting. The biggest helps for terminating an episode seem to be rehydrating and/or taking a brisk walk. The best helps to preventing episodes seem to be treating my apnea with a CPAP (my EP set me up for a sleep study during first appointment), improving my diet and losing some weight, being more consistent and serious about exercise (just long and relatively fast walks) and de-stressing my life (meditation helps). My episodes are now much less frequent, about one every two months, and are less severe then they used to be. I might need an ablation in the future if things start getting worse, but so far so good. So there is lots of good advice on this forum, and good outcomes are possible - you just have to pursue what works for you.
DkinAA, March 14, 2019 1:37pm EST
Also sunbirds, I was complaining to my primary care doc about poor sleep and feeling tired years before my afib hit. Once I started CPAP, I started sleeping better, and affter a tweak to the pressure setting, starting having many fewer episodes as well. There is reason to believe that sleep apnea can cause, or at least trigger, afib, and treating the apnea often helps the afib. So if you are sleeping poorly and are having afib, a sleep study should be first up in the treatment plan. The sleep study was kinda nice, actually, because I'm a technology geek and being wired up with all kinds of sensors was really pretty cool and being constantly monitored was reassuring - that night I slept better than I had in a long time!
sunbirds, March 14, 2019 7:37pm EST
Thanks DkinAA. That helps. One of my friends was diagnosed with sleep apnea, but hates the CPAP machine, so isn't going along with it. I worry about her. She hasn't complained about heart irregularities and goes to the doc regularly, so fingers crossed. I might have apnea as well. I finally got my medical records and got an appointment with my GP, who will set me up with a cardiologist. I read my report and my BP when I was admitted to the ER was 144/75. That is so high for me! That's why my heart seemed to be working so hard. My usual BP is 110/60. I have no idea why it jumped so high in less than a year. I do love salty foods and didn't exercise much this winter, so maybe that's why. But, there's my first clue. Also, incidentally, when I was reading the report I could feel my heart beat hard and fast again. The mention of potential heart disease got me upset.
But, even though I don't have the doc's OK, I have been getting out and walking almost every day. I also do a yoga routine that involves pushups and have been doing 20 pushups almost every day. I try to get some kind of good exercise at least once a day for at least 20 minutes. I've always been a very healthy eater aside from the salt. I hardly ever eat red meat. My weight is normal.
I will ask if a sleep study is in order. It looks like my heart got damaged somehow. I've had some crazy episodes in my life so it could be anything. A LOT of stress. A lot of worry. Serious smoke inhalation with I'm sure carbon monoxide poisoning. Some drinking although not nearly enough to be problematic, I don't think anyway. No hard drugs though. But I don't even have a definitive diagnosis yet--just the catch all--atrial fibrillation of unknown origin.
But, thanks for replying. It looks like your triggers are the same as mine, except I still have no idea how this came on last Friday. I had been quilting all day and listening to either NPR or music. I was not upset about anything. I ate a light dinner even and did not have any wine or alcohol. I do not smoke anything. It makes no sense. But, the insight from you all is helping me feel more comfortable at least, and less in danger, and helping me understand this mystery. Have a pleasant weekend. I hope you get no episodes and enjoy yourself.
Spencer, March 14, 2019 9:47pm EST
Sunbirds - Sorry that I could not comment earlier. I had to my wife's bidding which was power washing the driveway and walkway. I seem to remember her out there with a whip saying "faster, or I won't feed you tonight."
CPAP/Apnea - this has a connection to heart issues. I slept little for years, and my sleep ashore was also short (2-3 hours/day for years). My EP put me in for a study quick and so far I have had three (hey there was a discount). I now make sweet love to my face hugger each night. This HAS reduced my heart issues and kept my heart rate low. I awake with more energy and the increased ability to do her bidding which includes power washing. I added a pix of me wired up for my sleep study.
Feel Good Again. Yes. Again... Yes. I was brought down by AFib, and I needed to stop doing what I love, but now I can do again. So, I hold faith in the sunrise. You might be in the deep of the dark night, but the sun will also rise the next morning. I relish each time that I can stand in the sun and feel its rays upon me... it feels like freedom and life. This follows a long story of the night that I can tell if you want. But, I know that you will feel good again. It may seem distant now and unbelievable but you will.
Impatient. No, I'd say you are going through the normal range of emotions on this. You are not impatient, but you will need to work within your doc's timeframe, and I understand that it can be much longer than you are willing to cede to these issues. But we must. We dance to their tune, not ours.
Hope this helps. Keep the questions coming. There are many friends here on site.
Also... will be doing more power washing so you won't for me will way late tomorrow.
In the Sunlight.
Spencer, March 14, 2019 9:49pm EST
Sorry forgot the photo. And again... sorry for the cheesy smile.
Heartfe6878, March 14, 2019 9:52pm EST
All I know about Afib is that it has a mind of its own.....it shows up when and where it wants too.....There are many triggers and it is a complex situation.....Be proactive on the sleep study asap.....This could improve your situation...Be well....
Heartfe6878, March 14, 2019 10:08pm EST
I just read Adriana Huffington book on sleep. She talks about sleep deprivation in the military and how it throughs off the whole body and especially after return from combat to home. Thought you might like to reference her new book on sleep They were able to prove this with several studies....Glad you have your cpap....Might be a interesting read on Sleep.
sunbirds, March 14, 2019 10:23pm EST
Nice photo Spencer. I wouldn't wear that out in public though. In this day & age you'd be mistaken for a suicide bomber.
sunbirds, March 14, 2019 10:26pm EST
Thanks Hearfe6878. I've always felt sleep is underrated. I started having trouble sleeping through the night when I became a mom. My oldest daughter was born underweight so was hungry and I had to get up to feed her in the middle of the night for months. That disruption has stayed with me now for over 30 years.
TexyMexy, March 19, 2019 6:30pm EST
Sunbirds, You probably need meds for the Afib. I just saw this so I am late to the party but I also love my red wine and a margarita now and then. I stopped drinking altogether. I plan to go back to wine with dinner later on. There are many different triggers for everyone and they are all different. You sound like you are a pretty heathly guy. This is a mangaeable condition and you won't die from it. Get your meds and see how you feel. Good luck