DESPERATELY FRIGHTENED, PVCs, AFib or panic attack

Posted by rubywitch67 @rubywitch67, Sep 27, 2019

I had an AFIB ablation in March of this year. The first month post surgery, I had a few episodes of AFIB (NOTHING like before the procedure) Also a few PVC’s which I’d had for several years. By April, I was not having any AFIB episodes and my one month follow up was good. Same with the 2nd follow up a month later. At the 3 month follow up, I told the EP I seemed to be experiencing some PVC’s, again, not many…..4-5 a week, and he upped my atenolol from 75mg to 100mg. That seemed to do the trick and from June until about the end of August or the beginning of September, I was not having ANY, at least that I was aware of. In the past month, I am again having several very minor PVC’s. One or two “flip-flops,” then nothing else until the next day or 2 days later. Really random. I’m wondering if I am just getting anxiety about the 6th month follow up? I DO have panic disorder and not much support at home. I have no other symptoms when these happen. I’m a 68 y/o woman and am still smoking but trying REALLY REALLY hard to quit. PLEASE don’t tell me how stupid I am. I KNOW. These feelings are NOT AFIB. As all of us who have or had AFIB know, you KNOW the difference between AFIB and a PVC. I am VERY scared what this could mean. Has anybody else had this happen and if so, do you know why? I do have my 6 month follow up with the EP on Monday, and of course I’ll be discussing this with him, but the week-end is looming and my anxiety is over the roof. Any help or advice would be so welcome. Does this mean I’m heading back into AFIB? Thank you so much

Hi Kanaaz,
Everything went very well at my 6th month follow up appointment. Thank you so much for asking! The PA I saw did not think the amount of PVC's I was experiencing was anything to worry about. He did say at my age, (68) that it was not unusual for "complete" healing to take 6 months or even a bit longer. When I asked him about wearing a monitor just to make sure these were PVC's and not the return of AFIB, I got the definite impression he didn't think it was necessary, but said if it would give me some peace of mind, he would order it. I am now just waiting to hear it's been OK'd by the insurance company, then I'll go in and have it put on. Since the appointment, I haven't noticed ANY PVC's, don't ya just know, so wonder if it's my damn anxiety messin' with me again. Thanks also for the kind words about my attitude not stopping me from reaching out for help. You make me sound MUCH braver than I am. Most of the time I wait to get help until I'm a huge puddle of anxiety and just can't take it any longer…….I like your version better! I'll drop a note when the monitor report comes back.
Ruby

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@afrobin

Good to hear from you, Rubywitch! Besides recurrent bladder infections (38 in almost 3 years + antibiotics for each one!), all is well with me. So my focus for quite some time has been on finding 'the cure' for my UTIs. I'm almost there and will likely be accepted to be part of a study.
After I cured my Afib 35 years ago which was 2 years of hell leading up to being put on beta blockers, as long as I keep away from the triggers my cardiologist warned me about, I have no arrhythmia, skipped beats,.,nothing. If I do succumb to an Iced Cap for example, which happens 2x a summer, my heart will warn me with skipped beats and/or racing heart.
The triggers are caffeine which is in coffee, tea, chocolate, caffeinated soft drinks (maybe you say pop?), alcohol and….my doctor said to even stay away from second hand cigarette smoke! And stress, of course.
I feel good; could be more active and although I eat loads of veggies, I could stay away more from carbs. I'm 70 and still going strong; going to Spain in winter and on a cruise next spring, studying Italian and German. Gotta keep on going and keep the brain stimulated!!
And you? Are you still a worry wart? Is your family more supportive?

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Hey AFRobin
I can't believe they still haven't found the cause of your UTI's! I hope this study you got in to will be the answer! I've had enough UTI's to last a lifetime! No where as many as you, but they are extremely unpleasant and I can't imagine having over 10 a year! I wish we had talked about AFIB before I went ahead with the ablation. I'd be really interested to know how you "cured" yours! I had my 6th month follow up yesterday and was told everything looked good and the fact that I was having a few very mild PVC's was nothing to worry about. I asked if I could wear a monitor just for peace of mind and the PA was OK with that, so I'm just waiting for that to clear insurance. I haven't had a single drop of alcohol since the night before the ablation, and I do miss a good glass of wine or the odd cocktail. My cardio said I could try it and see if it triggered anything, and while I'm tempted, I NEVER want to go through another AFIB episode in my life if I can help it. After this long, I don't really miss it, but there were a couple really hot days this summer when a tall, frosty gin and tonic was VERY enticing! When you get to be our age, even the little things we can't do any longer is frustrating!
Aren't YOU just the world traveler now! Where do you get your energy? Probably from all those carbs……LOL I can't stay away from them either!
And me…….I'm still a worry wart! It's my hobby! That's what keeps MY brain active! Like you, I could definitely stand to be more active, but the arthritis has gotten really quite horrid and keeps me from doing as much as I want. Getting old is not for the faint of heart, is it?
My family is as supportive as they can be. I learned quite awhile ago that trying to force someone to be who you wish they were is a lost cause. I'll just take what I can get from them and be happy with that. If I need more, I've got you and this forum and when you get right down to it, people who really understand what you're going through, have gone through it themselves, are far better at giving support that really helps.
Let's try to keep in touch better! Enjoy your trip to Spain. You're going to LOVE it, and I'm envious!
With love,
Ruby

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@rubywitch67

Hi Kanaaz,
Everything went very well at my 6th month follow up appointment. Thank you so much for asking! The PA I saw did not think the amount of PVC's I was experiencing was anything to worry about. He did say at my age, (68) that it was not unusual for "complete" healing to take 6 months or even a bit longer. When I asked him about wearing a monitor just to make sure these were PVC's and not the return of AFIB, I got the definite impression he didn't think it was necessary, but said if it would give me some peace of mind, he would order it. I am now just waiting to hear it's been OK'd by the insurance company, then I'll go in and have it put on. Since the appointment, I haven't noticed ANY PVC's, don't ya just know, so wonder if it's my damn anxiety messin' with me again. Thanks also for the kind words about my attitude not stopping me from reaching out for help. You make me sound MUCH braver than I am. Most of the time I wait to get help until I'm a huge puddle of anxiety and just can't take it any longer…….I like your version better! I'll drop a note when the monitor report comes back.
Ruby

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Ruby, If you buy an ordinary not especially expensive home blood pressure taker, you'll be able to see there if you are in afib. Your pulse will show up way high, 132, 123, 145 for me – undoubtedly different for you. I also know I'm in afib because it feels like bubbling all around my heart beat. Good luck, glad you had a fine check up.

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@rubywitch67

Hey AFRobin
I can't believe they still haven't found the cause of your UTI's! I hope this study you got in to will be the answer! I've had enough UTI's to last a lifetime! No where as many as you, but they are extremely unpleasant and I can't imagine having over 10 a year! I wish we had talked about AFIB before I went ahead with the ablation. I'd be really interested to know how you "cured" yours! I had my 6th month follow up yesterday and was told everything looked good and the fact that I was having a few very mild PVC's was nothing to worry about. I asked if I could wear a monitor just for peace of mind and the PA was OK with that, so I'm just waiting for that to clear insurance. I haven't had a single drop of alcohol since the night before the ablation, and I do miss a good glass of wine or the odd cocktail. My cardio said I could try it and see if it triggered anything, and while I'm tempted, I NEVER want to go through another AFIB episode in my life if I can help it. After this long, I don't really miss it, but there were a couple really hot days this summer when a tall, frosty gin and tonic was VERY enticing! When you get to be our age, even the little things we can't do any longer is frustrating!
Aren't YOU just the world traveler now! Where do you get your energy? Probably from all those carbs……LOL I can't stay away from them either!
And me…….I'm still a worry wart! It's my hobby! That's what keeps MY brain active! Like you, I could definitely stand to be more active, but the arthritis has gotten really quite horrid and keeps me from doing as much as I want. Getting old is not for the faint of heart, is it?
My family is as supportive as they can be. I learned quite awhile ago that trying to force someone to be who you wish they were is a lost cause. I'll just take what I can get from them and be happy with that. If I need more, I've got you and this forum and when you get right down to it, people who really understand what you're going through, have gone through it themselves, are far better at giving support that really helps.
Let's try to keep in touch better! Enjoy your trip to Spain. You're going to LOVE it, and I'm envious!
With love,
Ruby

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As you may recall, at age 46 (when my mother was dying) I suddenly went into serious AFib where I didn't have 3 normal beats in a row. This went on for some time because the dose of beta blocker they kept trying wasn't doing the trick. The cardiologist I saw told me this: "Out of 10 people whom I see who have arrhythmia, I medicate ONE…and you are the one!" He told me that only when the arrhythmia makes a person light headed and faint and 'air hungry' (having to take many breaths to get enough O2), does one need to be medicated. And that was my case exactly.
After almost 2 years on the highest dose of beta blockers that I needed to control the AFib, so high (320 mg of Sotalol per day) that the cardiologist said it could cause my heart to suddenly stop, I decided to go to a gym to push my heart more than just walking. My routine was 35 minutes on the treadmill and a half hour on strength training equipment. And I HATE exercise but I was motivated. After one week, to my surprise I was able to get my dose down by 25%. At the end of one month, I was actually down to ZERO! I kept going to the gym 6 days out of 7 without fail. After 2 months, I went to see the cardiologist and he said, "Your AFib will come back. You cannot cure it.". I kept going to the gym for 4 months in total, then the gym closed but I was okay. Here I am 24 years later with no arrhythmia at all. I keep away from any heart stimulants, as I said and all is well. I cured an almost 2 year, serious case of AFib. I'm proud of it.

Now I am on the hunt for the cure for my UTIs. I think if I stop eating carbs which make the urine acidic and therefore a good medium for the growth of bacteria, I will be able to cure the recurrent UTIs. I have found an excellent product that worked for 3 months this summer so I am ready to try it again. Wish me luck!
And I wish you serenity and acceptance of your condition. I would just ignore any blips which are very common and get very involved in hobbies and interests. If you wear a monitor, it will continually remind you that you are 'sick' (weak, vulnerable, fragile etc..) and that mindset is not healthy. You want to feel STRONG! Maybe go to a gym and have a trainer set up a program for you and with your cardiologist's blessing, lower your dose of beta blockers if you are still on them. Seeing a psychologist to help you gain more self confidence and to learn how to worry less, could help. I wish you ALL THE BEST, Ruby Witch!

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That is such an interesting story! I wonder if doctors can generalize at all about afib? Last night an attack came on at 6pm after about 10 days of overdoing everything. Slept from 10pm to 7pm and heart was perfect again in the morning. I'm 85, had my first afib attack at 80 and was immediately put on both rate and rhythm and blood thinning medications, which I've been taking since then. Most interesting for you all is the different advice I received from my cardiologist and his assistant, a nurse practioner, whom I've mostly seen since then. She (her mother at 92 has had afib for 20 years) told me that I must rush to the hospital at each attack and stay there until it's over. I did this 3 times, staying there one overnight each time (once having a tiny heart attack that they said the afib caused.) But at a follow-up to the last hospital visit, I talked to the cardiologist and he said I could try staying home and see what happened. So I've done that the last 4 times. What happens is that the attack goes away in the same amount of time as it did in the hospital, where they had done a diltiazem drip; about 7 – 10 hours is what it takes for my heart to recover. Same at home, no drip and none of the hospital tension that emergency room and admission brings on. What a pleasure it is to stay home. I have to wonder what if I had always recovered at home and never been given medications? What then? Certainly we and our hearts are all different. I like and trust both of my medical providers and understand that though they share patients, they both have long term different experiences of life. As do we!
(Re UTIs, a small amount of estrogen cream cured mine (made fresh by a private pharmacist who put it together herself-recommended by a doctor of osteopathy.)

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@soph

That is such an interesting story! I wonder if doctors can generalize at all about afib? Last night an attack came on at 6pm after about 10 days of overdoing everything. Slept from 10pm to 7pm and heart was perfect again in the morning. I'm 85, had my first afib attack at 80 and was immediately put on both rate and rhythm and blood thinning medications, which I've been taking since then. Most interesting for you all is the different advice I received from my cardiologist and his assistant, a nurse practioner, whom I've mostly seen since then. She (her mother at 92 has had afib for 20 years) told me that I must rush to the hospital at each attack and stay there until it's over. I did this 3 times, staying there one overnight each time (once having a tiny heart attack that they said the afib caused.) But at a follow-up to the last hospital visit, I talked to the cardiologist and he said I could try staying home and see what happened. So I've done that the last 4 times. What happens is that the attack goes away in the same amount of time as it did in the hospital, where they had done a diltiazem drip; about 7 – 10 hours is what it takes for my heart to recover. Same at home, no drip and none of the hospital tension that emergency room and admission brings on. What a pleasure it is to stay home. I have to wonder what if I had always recovered at home and never been given medications? What then? Certainly we and our hearts are all different. I like and trust both of my medical providers and understand that though they share patients, they both have long term different experiences of life. As do we!
(Re UTIs, a small amount of estrogen cream cured mine (made fresh by a private pharmacist who put it together herself-recommended by a doctor of osteopathy.)

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Aren't you a brick! I wonder if you are being careful about what you drink such as coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, alcohol? I have avoided these things like the plague because any time I have tested fate, I have had warning signs.
Thanks for the advice about estrogen cream. I have been using it for 2 1/2 years and it did stop the UTIs for 3 months at the start…until I had a cystoscopy in hospital and got an infection with a bacterium that is seen in hospitalized, catheterized patients (thank you very much!) which sent me into a UTI tailspin that I have recovered from once, again for a 3 month period on PACs (Utiva). I also take bio-identical progesterone cream to balance the estrogen…although I am told it is absorbed mostly locally.
Like your nurse practitioner's 92 year old mother, my aunt had afib for years and years plus many ablations. She was a smoker all her life and against her cardiologist's advice, would not stop. She faded away and died a natural death at age 88. I believe she could have lived longer because her mother, my grandmother lived to 100. But the smoking probably took its toll. Anyway, who wants to live to 100 if one's quality of life is poor?…
Love your attitude! You obviously have confidence in your ability to handle your condition yourself…which I think is often the case with those of us who have a chronic condition. We often know as much as and sometimes even more than the medical staff…especially since WE know our own bodies. Keep it up and good luck to you, Soph!

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Hey Soph
Thanks for the suggestion about getting a home BP monitor……that is great advice for anyone. As a retired nurse, I ALSO recommend people get one of the newer models of BP cuffs that just strap onto the wrist. (What a great invention THAT was!) I also advise people, especially if AFIB is involved, to purchase a pulse oximeter, which measures the oxygen saturation of your blood. (Which should be 90% or greater) Most of these devices also measure your heart rate. These devices can usually be purchased at your local pharmacy and are not expensive. If your doctor has advised you to monitor your vitals stats at home, most insurance companies will help with the cost. The pulse oximeter is also great for people with an anxiety or panic disorder. Putting it on and then doing some deep breathing, you can see with your own eyes that your heart rate is slowing down and that the deep breathing is delivering more oxygen to your heart and hence, to your blood. It's an excellent "exercise" in learning to calm yourself down.
You have inspired me to get off my duff and get to the gym! I have allowed myself to become so sedentary it's quite embarrassing. I keep blaming it on my arthritis, which is actually true, but I know with a good and knowledgeable trainer, a program could be designed around that. My local gym has a pool and that is one of THE BEST exercises for folks with arthritis, and yet I just sat here for years, giving up one activity after another and I know that is only adding to my depression. I also have a couple other medical issues that come into play, but that is a story for another time. When I worked on the orthopedic unit at the hospital, I don't know how many thousands of times I handed out the advice that the most important part of my patient's recovery was to "KEEP MOVING." It's long past time for me to take my own advice……….
Ruby

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@afrobin

Aren't you a brick! I wonder if you are being careful about what you drink such as coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, alcohol? I have avoided these things like the plague because any time I have tested fate, I have had warning signs.
Thanks for the advice about estrogen cream. I have been using it for 2 1/2 years and it did stop the UTIs for 3 months at the start…until I had a cystoscopy in hospital and got an infection with a bacterium that is seen in hospitalized, catheterized patients (thank you very much!) which sent me into a UTI tailspin that I have recovered from once, again for a 3 month period on PACs (Utiva). I also take bio-identical progesterone cream to balance the estrogen…although I am told it is absorbed mostly locally.
Like your nurse practitioner's 92 year old mother, my aunt had afib for years and years plus many ablations. She was a smoker all her life and against her cardiologist's advice, would not stop. She faded away and died a natural death at age 88. I believe she could have lived longer because her mother, my grandmother lived to 100. But the smoking probably took its toll. Anyway, who wants to live to 100 if one's quality of life is poor?…
Love your attitude! You obviously have confidence in your ability to handle your condition yourself…which I think is often the case with those of us who have a chronic condition. We often know as much as and sometimes even more than the medical staff…especially since WE know our own bodies. Keep it up and good luck to you, Soph!

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Thanks, yes, I can't drink alcohol or caffinated drinks. I'm also careful not to eat dried fruit with sulfides (also in wine) and I wonder if the small amount of raisins in raisin bran could bother me. I'm pretty sure that yesterday's afib was from overdoing life for two weeks. (Another reason to avoid hospitals if possible are the infections. Fortunately haven't had to use the hospital's new ward which is like a fancy hotel, special beds for family, etc.)

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