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rjrsm, February 26,  2018  9:45am EST

Time for a new cardiologist

Please pardon my tone, but I'm seething from my cardiologist's response to a question. 

I was diagnosed with Afib about a month ago. Like so many others, I was knocked off my feet with the news which was delivered almost like "you got mail." On a follow-up visit, I told the cardiologist that I felt her delivery of the message was lacking in compassion, as if I all older folk eventually got this condition and that I should not worry, but live with it. The cardiologist was apologetic, but felt her initial explanation was meant to "calm" my anxiety. Meanwhile and because of what I've learned from others, I decided to explore and find me an EP to supplement my care. As I am awaiting my EP appointemnt,  I contacted  the original  cardiologist (done through an electronic office portal) that I was experencing more frequent Afib events since starting the Xarelto and Metoprolol. The cardiologist replied with a message saying: "It is not uncommon to experience episodes on a more frequent basis as time goes by. Some people eventually ultimately develop afib on a permanent basis.This is fine." WHAT!!!??? No mention of "make an appointment" or "let's see about tweaking the medication." Nada, just "this is fine." 

I am so glad that I took the initiative to find me a new cardiologist and one with a speacilty in Afib. I know that I can't be cured of Afib. I know I'll have to take medication. What I don't know if the medication and dosage is right for me only because the doctor didn't even think to consider the question. 

Thanks for letting me blow some steam.
7 Replies
  • Jeanamo
    Jeanamo, February 26,  2018  11:02am EST
    Hello, Ray, and welcome to this forum where you can "blow off steam" when needed!  You are definitely doing the right thing in seeing an electrophysiologist to handle your a-fib treatment.I hope he/she will be better at explaining a-fib to you than your cardiologist was.  It is important to have an experienced electrophysiologist to evaluate your particular case and recommend the treatment...medicines or procedures...that will be most beneficial for you.  Keep in mind that a-fib affects each of us individually...so what works for one sometimes does not work for another.  There can be a period of trial and error  in finding the most effective treatment for your individual case.  By the way, it is not uncommon for us to feel anxiety and confused after our a-fib diagnosis....especially when you have a doctor who does not seem to  explain things well to you.  I think you will find a lot of support and information in the community and I hope you will continue to let us know how you are doing.  I hope your visit with the electrophysiologist goes well and that he/she will have your trust in handling your concerns and treatment.Best wishes to you.Jean(My A-fib Experience Community Leader)
  • mdlagas
    mdlagas, February 27,  2018  2:09am EST
    My intial AFIB event was treated as a one-time event by my cardiologist.  However, when it returned 2 years later, I was then told that was to be expected.  After several months of AFIB with no treatment or medication (including anticoagulants) and only being seen by the nurse practitioner instead of the cardiologist, I went on my own and scheduled an appointment with an EP.  The cardiologists office response to that was predictable, that I went "over their head by doing this without their referral," and that if I was going to go to an EP on my own, there was no reason for me to continue to schedule follow up appointments with them.  My EP put me on medication that so far has stopped the AFIB episodes, and I have never regretted going to him and discontinuing with the cardiologist.  The EP went into great detail about what to expect as AFIB progresses and what my options are.My advice to anyone who is a first time Afibber.  GO TO AN EP AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
  • BethClark
    BethClark, February 27,  2018  3:24am EST
    I'm glad you're moving on to a new doctor who will work with you to find the appropriate treatment protocol. After my second episode four months after the first, my doctor added flecanide and I've been aFib free for the last two years. I also heard from my doctor that aFib tends to get worse over time. But after that news was the message that we'd change treatment over time as might be needed.
  • rockrob61952
    rockrob61952, February 27,  2018  7:24am EST
    Good morning, Ray ... I just have to say that when I hear stories such as yours about the experience you had w/your original cardiologist, I can feel my blood beginning to boil ... but alas, this is not good for my OWN A-Fib, so I'm going to cut off the anger and simply say that this type of behavior towards patients is unfortunately so typical of many doctors.  You have absolutely done the correct thing in finding yourself a new cardiologist and you absolutely must hook yourself up w/an electrophysiologist as well.  I can tell you from my own experience that when you find the right doctors for you, you will know it and will be able to relax a bit and learn to deal w/this whole AF experience.  From the moment I met my EP doc, what struck me the most was how willing he was to spend however much time was required in order for me to fully understand everything about what was going on ... even before we knew for sure that my issue was in fact AF, he treated me as a partner in my care.  I'll never forget my first visit w/him when I was in the hosp in Dec.  He came to see me between his procedures for that day and even tho he had already been called on his cell to be told that his next patient was ready and waiting, he still stayed until we had discussed everything.  When he left the room, a friend that had been there visiting me said "WOW!  I can't remember the last time a Dr gave me that much time and attention!"  I will admit that I was pretty damn "smitten" w/the guy ... yes, I know I'm probably old enough to be his mother, but I'm not dead either!  :-)  Anyway, at my appt where we discussed that we finally knew I was experiencing AF, the appt started at 5:40 PM and I didn't leave the exam room until 6:45.  That man went thru every possible treatment I could consider, he drew me pictures to fully explain the ablation procedure he would perform, etc., etc., etc.  So I'm here to tell you that there are Drs out there that are NOT going to just try to placate you and/or tell you to not worry your pretty (or handsome, in your case!) little head about this.  You have an inherent right and responsibility to yourself to be your own best advocate ... a good Dr. will welcome your questions and input and want you to be a partner in your care.  Hang in there and good luck finding the "right" Dr.!    Best, Robin     P.S.  Let us all know when you do find that Dr.!
  • ViolaMB
    ViolaMB, February 27,  2018  5:21pm EST
    Ray,i was treated the same way by my cardiologist.  I was diagnosed accidentally during a doctor’s visit for SOB and swollen ankles on a Friday.   I was able to get into see a cardiologist on Monday.  I was put on 3 new medications and told to come back in a month!  I was scared to death and in the meantime, I had to have a surgery under general anesthesia.  I was held in surgery for almost 2 hours because I was in atrial fibrillation.I had an echocardiogram which was “normal for age” which is 67.  Went to the doctor for my scheduled appointment a month after my diagnosis and asked questioned, which she answered but she downplayed everything.  Then when she was through, she said see you in a year!  I couldn’t believe it.  I have let it go and was not having any episodes until this week.  I waited them out but I am calling another cardiologist tomorrow and I am going to try to find who is the best EP around here and get an appt. with one.  I am not happy with care (or lack of) I am getting.  Thanks for letting me rant!
  • rjrsm
    rjrsm, February 28,  2018  1:19am EST
    Yesterday, I was pretty much at a very low point. In the afternoon with nothing to do (something I'm going to address with myself), I spent time thinking about how my life has changed sicne being diagnosed with Afib. Suddenly (I should have expected it), I began to stress out and whamo my heart started to flutter. I checked with my Kardia monitor and sure enough, I was in Afib. I didn't know what to do - should I buckle under and call the cardiologist, my PCP? Instead, I called the on-call nurse provided through my ARRP membership. I relayed to the nurse what I was feeling and then the words came out - "I'm angry at my body for letting me down." My own voice resonnated with what I said and the emotions built up for I felt so alone. The nurse provided some calm with intelligence and kindness. Her words, like the replies I received to my post, reinforced my decision to move on and fight for better help with my health. As I lay in bed later at night reading, I realized the biggest trigger for my Afib episodes is stress. Today is my mom's birthday. She passed away from a stroke in 2013. She would have been 97 today. So many wonderful memories of a courageuos woman, but she battled stress to her last days on earth. While the memories and love for my mom still persists, I don't want to let stress rule my life. As I said in the beginning of this post, it's something I want to address. I've got a ways to go, but, I'm learning if you don't take chances you miss opportunities. Thanks again for your support. This forum has been a big help to me. I hope I can return your thoughtfulness when I'm back to being the man I was before.
  • Drdubb
    Drdubb, February 28,  2018  1:32pm EST
    Reading through this thread reminds me of my experience. I passed out in the kitchen, was transported to the ER. I was told to take a beta blocker, but no one explained anything. I refused. Later on, ER doc drops by to tell me I cured myself. Next day, cardiologist came by, told me I had afib, it was common, wanted me to have a sleep study and stress test and he was putting me on flecainide. At follow up appt. I met with physicians assistant. No real info. The last few months, I've had a couple of times I've felt odd, weak in arms and legs. My alivekor monitor had only indicated possible afib once, and a few minutes later that one was normal. I'm deathly afraid of passing out again, but I think the anxiety causes me to feel funny. I've never felt a flutter or pounding in my chest.
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