Nesshan
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Nesshan, March 21,  2019  12:48am EST

New to AFib, scared.

Last Wednesday I woke up and was sitting in bed. I felt my heart beating oddly and after that my chest felt uncomfortable, I told my sister how I was feeling and at that point my heart started beating really fast. I thought I was having a heart attack and was about to die. 

Sister took me to the ER where they checked my pulse and put me on an IV I hadn't been told what it was until I was moved to the Hospital, I wasn't allowed to walk and then I was told that I was in AFib. 

Later that night a nurse said I "converted" and all was well. 

The next day I had a ultrasound on my heart done and etc.

The doctors didn't mention anything bad going on and explained that I had AFib probably because of sleep apnea and being overweight. He told me I should work on losing weight and eating better to fix it.

I'm on Eliquis and Diltiazem, I wasn't told how long but was told I shouldn't run out of Eliquis. 

I'm still terrified of havhav that happen again and I have no one else to talk to about this. 

After having AFib and converting, and being on this medication. What are the possobiliposs of having to experience that again ? I'm trying to exercise more but I'm scared of something happening again.

  • tyneff
    tyneff, March 21,  2019  4:57am EST

    I know how you feel. I had about the same situation as yours happen to me in 2009. After a workout on the treadmill, I sat down to relax and heart started to beat weird and then was beating fast and erratic. I called my neighbor and we went to ER. They took me back fairly quickly but took awhile to tell me I had Afib. I was heavy at the time. It took me a day to convert via drugs. It scared me. I lost weight, about 110 lbs and kept most of that off. I started seeing a cardiologist when I first had Afib and have seen him for 10 years now. I still have bouts with Afib but they are somewhat controlled with drugs. Currently on Eliquis for anticoagulant and Multaq for rhythm control. I get a average of 2 or 3 Afib events per year each lasting about 12 hours. Keeping weight off has helped me. Also keeping the stress down and learning to avoid triggers that cause Afib. Alcohol is one of them. 

    Knowing what Afib is and being on the right meds had helped taked away some of the anxiety as I've gotten used to it. Seems like once you get Afib, it's with ya for the rest of your life. Doctor told my next step if my problem worsens is an ablation. Said I don't need it yet but if I get worse, that's what they'll do to correct the Afib. Technology advances every year so I'm hoping the success rate for ablation will get better.

    You are on the right track coming here. Get to learn all about Afib and how to better control it. It will ease your mind some.

    Tyler

  • Thumper2
    Thumper2, March 21,  2019  8:23am EST

    Nesshan, most of us here can identify with what you are going through!  Tyneff has some good advice, to which I would add the following.  (1) Make sure you eventually see an electrophysiologist (EP).  EPs specialize in AFib and are likely to be more knowledgeable in ways to treat it.  (2) My opinion on ablations is, "the sooner, the better."  My AFib was not bad for more than 8 years, but in fact my heart was quietly remodeling itself in negative ways (developing leaky valves, etc.).  When I finally got to an EP, eventually I had 3 ablations,but they did not correct my AFib (BTW, the ablation in itself is not bad--I'd have a 4th one, if I thought it would help).  If you go the ablation route, be sure to have it done by an EP who has a long and successful record of doing them.

    As Tyler has emphasized, educate yourself on AFib.  There are a lot of resources here and a lot of folks who would be willing to respond to your questions, etc.  Your EP will tell you that people don't die from AFib, but they can die from a stroke caused by a blood clot from AFib.  That's why you must take a blood thinner for the rest of your life (my personal favorite is coumadin -- inexpensive, and it works well for me).  Also, please look into having a test for sleep apnea, which can worsen your condition.

    And keep in touch with us here!   All the best,

    Thumper2

  • kenneth631
    kenneth631, March 21,  2019  9:22am EST

    Good morning Nesshan,

    You've come to the right place to find out about your condition. Terrific people on here; a lot of experience and wisdom. I had those symptoms for years having been diagnosed with paroxysmal afib. When I was having an episode, it felt like there was a storm going on inside me or squirrels running around. Also had butterflies in my stomach. Very uncomfortable  to say the least. Common triggers for me was any amount of alcohol, overeating or eating in a reclining position, & just getting out of bed. Many times they would occur for no reason. Sometimes I knew it was going to happen hours in advance. Just had that feeling even though I was in a normal rhythm at the time. Also had many premature atrial contractions on a daily basis, sometimes they would end up in an afib episode.

    Episodes became more frequent, up to 3 times a week and lasting for 12-14 hours at times. Usually after taking 300 mgs. of flecainide, they would terminate after six to 8 hours. The calm after the storm. After a while, flec became less effective. Quality of life suffered. A lot of anxiety, worry, and concern. When would the next one happen? How long would the episode last? Would I have to go to an ER? Is my heart being damaged? Is the anticoag going to continue to work? Always taking my pulse. Driving myself and my wife crazy. No way to live.

    Consulted with several cardologists and electrophysiologists. I was deemed an excellent candidate with a 90% chance of a successful ablation by the EP's. I had it done in May, 2017. Had one episode for a few hours a week later. Considered normal during the  90 day "blanking period." But since then I have been afib free. No sustained episodes. Every so often, I feel some quick irregular beats that last just a few seconds and then gone. PAC's also stopped. Quality of life is back and I feel terrific. Still on Eliquis and low dose flec as a precaution. I am aware that a "touch up" ablation may become necessary in the future, but so far, so good. I would have another one done if recommended and advisable. 

    My suggestion to you is to find a cardiologist who takes afib seriously and the best electrophysiologist you can locate. I was watched over by several cardiologists who took a passive approach to it, until I was referred to an EP. I looked for the best one in my area, I found a recognized expert and heart center hospital department chairman and I had him do the ablation. Experience and high volume is the key here. Very important. 

    Afib is not a benign condition. Morbidity and mortality rates are higher in afib people. It can cause heart damage and has been linked to dementia in later life. It usually gets worse with age and can progress to the persistent or permanent stage, where a successful ablation becomes diffcult or impossible. It is said that "afib begets afib"-- episodes can remodel the heart.  Antiarrhythmic meds usually become less effective and can have nasty side effects. Not everyone is an ablation candidate, but if you are and your condition gets worse or episodes continue, it's the closest thing to a cure. 

    Stay on Eliquis (aspirin is useless) and see a caring cardiologist and an expert EP. Don't accept afib as nothing to worry about, take a proactive approach. Good luck and best regards.

  • mdlagas
    mdlagas, March 21,  2019  9:32am EST

    I would add to this to start keeping a record of when the AFIB events happen and what you may have eaten, drank or otherwise may have been doing just before they started.  This will help you determine what triggers the AFIB and help you learn what you need to avoid to help prevent  it.  Not everyone has the same triggers and by doing this I was able to determine what triggered my events (sleep apnea and not getting enough sleep, eating large meals, salty foods, being around heavy smokers, decongestants, just to name a few).  You may find that some of this doesn't trigger events for you but find other things that will.  If you start doing any kind of light workouts to try to help with weigh loss make sure you stay well hydrated. Dehydration is another trigger which is why alcohol should be avoided.

    Diltiazem is a rate control med which helps keep your heart rate down but doesn't really contol arrythmias.  An EP will be the one to see who will prescribe and antiarrythmic to help control the AFIB.  I was it AFIB for over 5 months before "going around" my cardiologist and going to an EP on my own.  He immediately put me on Flecainide which 3 days later stopped the AFIB.  I have been AFIB free for almost 2 years since going on it except for a recent 3 hour event triggered by a decongestant (didn't read the cold medicine label carefully enough).  My EP tells me that eventually my system will adapt to the medication and the AFIB will come back so having an ablation is in my future but for now all is good.

  • Rogochef
    Rogochef, March 21,  2019  11:53am EST

    Welcome to the club.  You mentioned sleep apnea.  Have you had a sleep study?  It is possible my Afib was due to sleep apnea, in my case, complex Apnea which is a combo of obstructive and central.  I was tested shortly after my Afib was dx'ed and prescribed therapy and now all is well as far as sleep is concerned.  I have a ASV (Adaptive Servo Ventilator) which is a delux CPAP if you will that gives positive and bilevel pressure as well as initiating breathing when the brain fails to send signals to do so.  (central sleep apnea).   Getting a good constant flow of oxygen to brain/heart during sleep is pretty critical to our health, obviously.   Next, you mentined weight...no question that being overweight is a problem and I am also currently dealing with that.  Afib triggers seem to be mainly alcohol (my biggest event took place after an evening of rather heavy drinking) and caffine, although less conclusive as I read.  So, in my case, I pretty much instantly quit all alcohol except for occasional small glass of wine, and never more than one in a day.  I dumped all caffine and although I rarely ever drink sugared beverages, I totally quit them as well as well as the atificially sweetened stuff.  I then focused on going mosty low carb and upping my activity level.   As a result, or hopefully as a result, I have had no AFIB units in nearly 7 months.  Oh yes, I also have irregular heart beat and bradycardia so was fitted with a  dual chamber pacemaker that now has heart beat minimum at 60 rather than the low 40s where it was.  As so well reported by others, the condition may not be fatal, but prolonged afib definitley is dangerous.  I am hoping that my attention to all of the above has helped me stay in rhythm , but it might just be an individual thing as I do not find much in my research relating to diet and AFIB.  Good luck.  

  • DkinAA
    DkinAA, March 21,  2019  2:07pm EST

    Nesshan, being freaked out and terrified at first is pretty-much "normal" for this condition. We can all tell you stories about it! Your heart going nuts feels like you are freaking out, and of course the anxiety makes your heart go even nuttier. But the dangerous thing about afib is the stroke risk, which the Eliquis pretty much takes out of the picture. So what remains is dealing with the condition itself and how it makes you feel. This is a very idiosyncratic -- individual -- condition, and so we each have to find out what works for us. I'm on the same diltiazem and Eliquis meds as you, and so far, so good - I may need an ablation procedure eventually, but like many of us, some changes can make a big difference in how often and how frequent the episodes are.  A relative of mine had one episode last summer and no repeats so far. My episodes started out really bad, but decreased drastically in frequency and severity over the last three years. 

    Lots of good advice here, of which the most important is: find a good EP, get checked for apnea and start on CPAP if you have it, keep a record and find out what affects your episodes. For example, after going cold turkey at first, I found that I could put coffee back into my life (hooray!) and some alcohol. However, pigging out on salty pizza, or getting dehydrated -- bang! I found that mindfulness meditation really helped with the anxiety.  Read the discussons here - this is a good gang!

  • Nesshan
    Nesshan, March 21,  2019  3:23pm EST

    Thank you everyone for your comments! I'm happy you all took the time to reply to me. 

    This is really helpful and I'm feeling slightly better. I guess, just sad because it can happen again. I don't know how I'll deal with it again when it comes back. Should I try to deal with it at home when it does eventually happen again?

    Also, I saw a lot about an EP and I would love to get that just to be sure. My big problem is that I don't have health insurance and can't afford to go out and get checked for everything. I still need to check for sleep apnea. 

    I really don't know what to do. There's no cure to AFib and I need to stay on Eliquis for the rest if my life? And I have to get used to the attacks coming back. 

    I'm sorry for being so uninformed. The hospital told mey heart was fine and if I lost weight I could fix myself. I wasn't told I should be looking out for it happening again. 

    I'm not sure what my trigger is. The night before I did eat super greasy Mexican food and drank a lot of soda. I'm trying to stay away from greasy food and any type of soda now. I'm also eating portion size and more greens. Also, I should be fine doing exercise right? I've been afraid to do much and stop to check my heart almost every few minutes. It's been a week but I still can't get over it. 

  • kenneth631
    kenneth631, March 21,  2019  4:27pm EST

    Hello again Nesshan,

    Forgot to mention to you: No caffeine (tea, coffee, soda and anything else it may be in). And no msg and NO alcohol at all. Losing weight is a must. Don't overdue the exercise. Perhaps you can find an EP by checking with your local medical society or a caseworker at your local hospital. Don't be sorry for being uninformed. We've all been there.

  • Rogochef
    Rogochef, March 21,  2019  7:14pm EST

    RE;  alcohol and caffine.  My cardiologist and EP both offered that a modest amount of either would generally be ok.  In my case, I quit caffine which is no problem as decaf coffee is fine with me, but I do drink some green tea.   A small glass of wine a few times a week should also not be an issue (according to my docs) and that has been the case.  I give myself a small glass of wine nearly daily and have had not reactions.   We all have different situations so i am hesitant to deal in absolutes....plus can there be life without wine?    

  • BarMax
    BarMax, March 21,  2019  10:24pm EST

    Nesshan

    Listen take your meds, lose weight and excerize but moderately. Your lucky it was only once episode. I would go in and out almost all day long. I had a cardiac ablation 2 years ago and while I improved but I cant say it's gone. I do still go into Afib every now and then. I am thinking about having a second ablation and while i like EP/cardiologist sometimes I wonder if I should use another. I take no meds only baby aspirin. I do have 2 medications my cardio told me to take if I go into afib for more than 30 minutes

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