Atrial Fibrillation (AFib): How can I manage it?

Posted by fred66 @fred66, Jun 13, 2018

I have a fib.. all the time. No blocked arteries. Can’t see a dr for 3 months..

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@knowing

I have been having episodes since 2011. When it happens I relax and drink enough water. Also I have cut out caffeine totally. Now I get it when stressed but stay home. Also I take blood thinner because clots could happen while having an episode. Cannot take meds for it either. I'm in my 80's and take no medications except for the blood thinner.
In the beginning went to emergency. Had cardio version 3 times. Now just wait it out. Sneezing has corrected it at times and also via the vagus nerve.

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Hi, @knowing. I liked hearing how you're handling your a-fib episodes. I don't have to handle them, because I don't feel my symptoms; but they show up on my EKGs every time. I'm on Coumadin for clot prevention and had the misfortune of having one thrown out of my heart, causing "a small stroke" 3 weeks ago.

That experience prompts me to warn you about "going to emergency" or bypassing the emergency room altogether. I didn't, and that was dumb. My posture now is a rigid commitment to "call 911" if I experience any symptoms related to my heart or my brain or my motor nerves. Moreover, my family and friends all know that I will not drive to the emergency room or ask them to. I'll only ask their help in getting a 911 call made without delay, because that can mean that I'll come under medical care a lot sooner — maybe 15 minutes before the EMT ambulance gets to where I am rather than a longer time for making the trip to the ER without EMT care, plus complications from trying to check in. I won't take the risk again. Hope you won't either. Martin

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@knowing

I have been having episodes since 2011. When it happens I relax and drink enough water. Also I have cut out caffeine totally. Now I get it when stressed but stay home. Also I take blood thinner because clots could happen while having an episode. Cannot take meds for it either. I'm in my 80's and take no medications except for the blood thinner.
In the beginning went to emergency. Had cardio version 3 times. Now just wait it out. Sneezing has corrected it at times and also via the vagus nerve.

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I’ve had about 5 episodes of Afib tachycardia fast heart beats. So far they last about 5 minutes. How do u stop it with vagus nerve? What does that mean, how do u do it? I’m 72 years old still have decafinated coffee. It’s scary when it happens. About the length of duration or time. I love the way you deal with your episodes and will try doing the same. Thanks for the info. I’m on Eliquis for thinning blood. I am afraid to take it as prescribed because it causes my nose to bleed etc. I’m also on cardivilol for hypertension and Norvasc or Amlodopine , also 40 mg pravastatin for cholesterol. I’m not a strong believer in taking strong medications because of side effects and messing up other organs. But I know it’s taking a chance. I just don’t know what to do.

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@knowing

I have been having episodes since 2011. When it happens I relax and drink enough water. Also I have cut out caffeine totally. Now I get it when stressed but stay home. Also I take blood thinner because clots could happen while having an episode. Cannot take meds for it either. I'm in my 80's and take no medications except for the blood thinner.
In the beginning went to emergency. Had cardio version 3 times. Now just wait it out. Sneezing has corrected it at times and also via the vagus nerve.

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@carnes, I'll let @knowing respond to your concern about your tachycardia and the vagus nerve, because my A-fib is nearly without symptoms.

I am interested in your medication because it's much like mine: Coumadin instead of Eliquis as an anticoagulant; Amiloride (diuretic)instead of Amlodipine (blood vessel relaxant) to reduce blood pressure ; Atorvastatin instead of Pravastatin (anticholesterol); and like you, Carvedilol. In my mind, strong medications can be minimized by reduced dosages (although 40mg statin is "strong" for sure), but my dosages are "strong." Norvasc can have a double purpose — slowing the heart beats and reducing blood pressure. Same with Carvedilol — a double-purpose medication.

My medication brought my BP under control — always below 140/90 (not bad for someone 82 years old) — but when I get up in the morning, it reads a little above that until my morning meds take effect. We have started to scale back the BP meds, thanks to careful nutrition adjustments, loss of weight, and life style changes, including special exercises designed to repair nerves and muscles impaired by my "small stroke." When I doubted my meds a year ago, I tracked down a couple of doctors and got second and third opinions on what to do. Maybe you would benefit from the same strategy. Martin

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Had cardioversion 6 months ago. Lasted one month. Now on. Metropolol And cardiazam was on eliqui s but after intestinal and brain bleed. Had to get off blood thinner. Had the watchman put in yesterday and now have to be back on eliquis for six weeks . Hopefully eventually off blood thinners. Next is ablation and pacemaker.

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@1943

Had cardioversion 6 months ago. Lasted one month. Now on. Metropolol And cardiazam was on eliqui s but after intestinal and brain bleed. Had to get off blood thinner. Had the watchman put in yesterday and now have to be back on eliquis for six weeks . Hopefully eventually off blood thinners. Next is ablation and pacemaker.

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Hello 1943,

I had the Watchman implanted a year ago and have been doing just fine since. I was on Eliquis for 6 months following the implant and have been on a low dose aspirin after I stopped the Eliquis. All went well with my implantation and I have had no problems. I pray that your results are as successful. Do you have other heart problem? I'm just curious as to the ablation and pacemaker.

Mary

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@rubywitch67

I've just been diagnosed with AFIB and I'm terrified. I joined the Connect group but when I finally find my way to the AFIB discussion group, there doesn't seem to be a place for me to post. I REALLY NEED SOME SUPPORT. Thank you

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Hello Martin, thank you for such a quick reply. You and Teresa are really kind and caring people. It is too late today to contact my cardiologist. I'm sure if I called his office, there would be somebody on call, but I have no doubt they would just tell me to go to the ER. So far today, I have only had a few very short PVC's, or what I USE to call PVC's. I no longer know WHAT to call them. But they haven't been "bothersome" nor have they freaked me out. They feel just like what I've been living with the past 8 years. These recent weird runs have only happened in the evening AFTER I've eaten a fairly large meal and then just sprawl on the couch watching TV or reading. I think if you've read my posts, you know I have panic disorder and the more I think about it, the more I realize that when these episodes begin, SO DOES MY PANIC. Because I haven't met with my cardio yet and talked about this in depth, I am really just out here dealing with a whole lot of "unknown stuff" and "unknown stuff" scares me really bad and makes the panic come. When I first began having PVC's, I would have terrible panic attacks and I could feel the PVC's getting stronger and lasting longer. Once I started to get use to them and accept what my cardiologist said about them……that they were benign and because my heart was structurally sound, I should just learn to ignore them. Which I did. (More or less) One I reached that point, the panic attacks stopped, at least as far as the PVC's were concerned. I think I was going to make a point here, but I've gotten myself lost, again! I think I was going to say something about how I think this new diagnosis has scared me so badly, my panic attacks are really strong and that is why these episodes are lasting as long as they are. Last night, I did some of my relaxation breathing and my heartrate went way down, but then I began to OVERTHINK AND STRESS and it started back up again. I had stopped reading and turned the light out, so I was just laying there in the dark with my mind going a million miles an hour. I finally turned the light back on and started reading again. Very soon after that, my HR returned to normal, I read for a little while longer, turned the light out and went to sleep almost immediately. I slept for almost 10 hours as I think I was emotionally exhausted. And now, here I am today, 8 hours later and have had only a few mild PVC's. But I can feel my anxiety building as I think about "what's going to happen tonight?" But that's how my panic disorder rules me……….it just picks away at me and the first odd physical sensation I have, it's game over. I am on an anti-anxiety medication but normally only take it in the morning. Tonight I think I will take some in the evening and eat a much smaller dinner and not lay down on the couch.
If I WERE to go to the ER, what would they do? I know they'd do an EKG and if I was in AFIB, what would they do? See, it's that damn "unknown" that scares me so badly.
May I ask why you are on Coumadin and not one of the newer meds for AFIB? Having to have your blood checked every month, isn't that more of a hassle than taking a pill? But the pills and their side effects scare me, and I wonder if going the coumadin route wouldn't be better for me with my panic issues? I am SO confused right now. And bye the way, I am so happy that your stroke was "mild" and that with some PT you are back bowling a near perfect game.
I don't know if I'll feel better with a diagnosis of AFIB over PVC's. My cardio, who knows I'm anxious, always made a point of reassuring me that my PVC's were benign and that definitely helped. Now I don't have a clue where I am. Right now I feel like a blimp that has come untethered and is out of control.
During the week I feel like I can readily connect with my doctor, but the week-ends are a dead end. At least, I THINK they are. I've never tried to contact him after hours or on the week-end, so I don't know. Guess I just figured it was Urgent Care or the ER. And while I live in a rural area, we are only about 1/2 mile from the fire station which is very up to date and has two EMT units. The station is now also manned 24/7, so yes, there is help very close by.
I have seen my cardio every 6 months for the past 8 years since the stents were placed. I've done 2 stress/echo's, I've worn a Holter twice which showed nothing……….how did I suddenly develop AFIB? Or was I misdiagnosed and it has just now gotten worse?
I am sorry this post has probably rambled and I have so many questions. Thank you for caring. Linda

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I've just been diagnosed with AFIB and I'm terrified. I joined the Connect group but when I finally find my way to the AFIB discussion group, there doesn't seem to be a place for me to post. I REALLY NEED SOME SUPPORT. Thank you

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@rubywitch67

I've just been diagnosed with AFIB and I'm terrified. I joined the Connect group but when I finally find my way to the AFIB discussion group, there doesn't seem to be a place for me to post. I REALLY NEED SOME SUPPORT. Thank you

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Martin I wrote you a response that took me close to 2 hours and when I hit "post reply" I just got a little circle thing going around and around. I was afraid to do anything, so I just left it to hopefully fix itself, but when I came back to it 2 hours later, the entire message was gone! I have no idea what happened, but I will write again tomorrow.

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@rubywitch67

hopeful…..thank you SO much for emailing me. I am not the brightest crayon in the technology box and I fear I get myself lost quite often! Long story short, 8 years ago I had 2 heart stents placed as I have CAD they say was caused by having hypocholesteremia. After the stents, I developed PVC's and have spent these past 8 years learning to live with those and not be terrified. A couple weeks ago, I had 3 episodes of what I believed were PVC's that oddly began each night around 8-9 pm after I had eaten. They lasted about 3 hours and seemed to be one continues PVC! I also have panic disorder, so you can imagine the mess I got myself into! I called my cardiologist and he put me on a 72 hour event monitor. I felt like it was Murphy's Law, because during that 72 hours, I hardly pushed the button at all. For those 3 days I had less PVC's than normal. But this past Monday (the 10th) he called and told me I had AFIB!!!! He said he called in a prescription for Zerelto (sp) to my insurance company (I'm 67 and on Medicare and a supplemental plan) I am waiting for the meds to arrive, but have done some reading about these types of medications and now I'm scared to death to take them! I'm also sitting here waiting to drop dead from a stroke! I'm a mess. I will be going in for an echocardiogram in 2 weeks and seeing my cardio the next week. Can I assume that if he thought I was in imminent danger, he'd have me come in immediately? I live with my husband of 40 years and love him dearly, but he is not the most supportive person. I am so scared and feel so very alone. I had another episode last night. This one didn't start until around 11:30 pm while I was lying in bed reading and went on until almost 3 am. This one had a bit more of an "ebb and flow" feeling to it, but I had another major panic attack which I know just makes everything 10X worse. I'm sorry for rambling. Guess it's obvious I need someone to help me. Thank you, again. RubyWitch

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Hello @rubywitch67. I'm glad to join your conversation with Teresa @hopeful33250. She is one of the most thoughtful and caring people you will ever encounter. I have four immediate comments: First, call your doctor and explain as accurately as you can what you experienced last night and ask for a special prescription at your local drug store. Second, if the doctor's not available to consult AND the A-fib heart beats are really disturbing, consider going to the emergency room. Third, don't be afraid of Xarelto (spelling!). It's an anticoagulant that prevents formation of blood clots in your atrium which rarely form in the upper chamber of your heart, but when they do can cause a stroke. Fourth, be sure you know the symptoms of stroke, and if you have any of them, call 911 for swift medical help in getting to the emergency room.

Here's some information on my experience; it might be helpful to you. My A-fib was diagnosed four years ago. I have been on an anticoagulant medication (Coumadin) since then. It involves regular blood tests to inhibit coagulation, and for me, that provides assurance that I'm on top of things. But I got careless a couple of months ago and didn't take care of my coagulation level, and after about three days, I had a stroke — a "small stroke," the radiologist said, when she read results of my MRI. It made me a little shaky in the legs, but after a session with a neurologist and six sessions of a physical therapist, I'm almost back to normal. As proof, my bowling league resumed after the summer off, and I rolled a 237 game and a 565 series yesterday!

I hope my experience will help alleviate your stress over your diagnosis. Can you readily connect with your doctor when you feel you need to? Would you feel better if you had confirmation of A-fib rather than PVC in your recent events? Is emergency medical help available by calling 911 in the rare case that you need it?

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