Atrial fibrillation and medication side effects

Posted by Karenatmayo @karenatmayo, May 22, 2017

I have atrial fibrillation with very bothersome symptoms and started flecainide 3 weeks ago and sine then have had terrible side effects including dizziness, some nausea, unable to stand for more than a couple of minutes, extreme fatigue. I am now trying a different drug which has worse nausea side effects, some fatigue, etc. I am suffering with these side effects and there cannot return to work yet. Both, however, do relieve afib. Not sure whether to stick it out or explore other options (ablation) I am 68, female.

After almost 3 1/2 years of dealing with nausea from the medication I take for my a-fib I am still frustrated that I don't have an answer. I think the one that causes me the most problem is Carvedilol. I feel if I change from what I am taking, that the effects will be the same. The Dr. gave me something to help with anxiety and nausea, it has helped some, but I feel I am just taking more pills to help the side effects of other medication. I have a-fib all the time so know I have to take something. Any suggestions what to do. It gets hard dealing with this.

@hopeful33250

@karenatmayo, Welcome to Mayo Connect, we are pleased that you have joined our online patient support group. I am sorry to hear of the side effects you mentioned in your post. While I’ve never been diagnosed with A-Fib, I do have a problem with rapid heartbeat. I started off with one med that left me with the same side-effects you mentioned and also a problem with excessive, busy dreaming at night (not nightmares, just very vivid dreams). I contacted my cardiologist and he switched me to a new med and it is working quite nicely without the side effects. Do you take the med with meals? Sometimes that can help. If you are still having problems, keep working with your doctor or look for a second opinion. There are lots of options out there.
I would also like to introduce you to one of our moderators @kanaazpereira who will be able to invite some of our other members into your conversation about treatments for A-Fib.
Keep in touch and let us know how you are doing. Teresa

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Hello. Please note that my earlier notes above are from May 2017. In 2017, I had tried dofetilide, dronedarone, propafenone and flecanide, one after another while in the hospital last year. None worked except flecanide but it made me ill so I did not continue In June 2017, it was then recommended to have an AV node ablation with pacemaker but I did not do that because I needed to first find out why I had anemia. After a visit to Mayo in Rochester in June 2017, I saw a hemotologist and was finally diagnosed with advanced breast cancer so I am now in treatment for that so don't want to do a pacemaker right now with all I am dealing with. I am suffering now with on-and-off a-fib and PVCs and only taking metroprolol and Xarelto so no nausea or appetite problems. We will wait and see.

I am 71…take diltiazem 360mg…. Eliquis 10….and flecainide 200 for atrial flutter…controlled quite well…..for the last 4 months. …….
I have noticed an increase in hair loss . Is that a complication of any of those drugs??

@braves04

I am 71…take diltiazem 360mg…. Eliquis 10….and flecainide 200 for atrial flutter…controlled quite well…..for the last 4 months. …….
I have noticed an increase in hair loss . Is that a complication of any of those drugs??

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Welcome to Connect, @braves04
I'm going to invite @predictable @lawsonsa @thankful and others participating in this thread to help answer your question about drugs for aFib and hair loss.

Here are some related articles:

> Drug-induced Hair Loss https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/drug-induced-hair-loss-2#1
> Rivaroxaban, dabigatran and apixaban and possible risk of hair loss (alopecia) http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/safety/EWS/2016/RivaroxabanDabigatranAndApixabanRiskofHairLoss.asp

Braves04, how long have you been taking the medications? Did you change anything else in the last 4 months?

@braves04

I am 71…take diltiazem 360mg…. Eliquis 10….and flecainide 200 for atrial flutter…controlled quite well…..for the last 4 months. …….
I have noticed an increase in hair loss . Is that a complication of any of those drugs??

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I haven’t noticed hAir loss but that’s because I was laready largely bald before taking flecainide and Eliquis. I am still taking them and have increased my dosage of Flecainide after advice from my cardiologist. This seems to have reduced the frequency of episodes of AFib to one in last 6months.

@braves04

I am 71…take diltiazem 360mg…. Eliquis 10….and flecainide 200 for atrial flutter…controlled quite well…..for the last 4 months. …….
I have noticed an increase in hair loss . Is that a complication of any of those drugs??

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Hi @braves04. I'm responding to the invitation from @colleenyoung to join in discussing your concerns about hair loss and other side effects from medication for treatment of Atrial fibrillation. My a-fib was diagnosed four years ago, after 15 years of medicinal treatment for hypertension with more than a dozen different medications — among them Minoxidil to treat high blood pressure and Finasteride to treat enlarged prostate. The a-fib diagnosis raised the issue of hair loss from anticoagulant meds, which are recommended to prevent small blood clots from forming when a-fib slows movement of blood through the upper heart chamber. In my case, I have not taken any of the three anticoagulants mentioned by Colleen (Xarelto, Pradaxa, or Eliquis) but am on Coumadin, which requires periodic lab tests to assure its coagulation power stays within a safe range. I have not noticed hair loss from any of my medications.

Am I correct in assuming that your Diltiazem is for high blood pressure, Flecainide is to relieve your a-fib symptoms, and Eliquis is your anticoagulant? Did you notice on the web sites Colleen recommended that anticoagulants are known to cause hair loss in some patients? With that in mind, are you inclined to talk to your doctor about whether your own hair loss is aggravated by your prescribed medications? Martin

@karenatmayo

Hello. I realize I never answered your questions. I appreciate you taking the time to send me questions. Since my post I have been to the hospital with afib episodes, and trying different drugs, all of which I could not tolerate. They tried cardio version in hospital but it did not work, but eventually went back into normal rhythm naturally. Since I also have anemia for unknown reasons ( no internal bleeding, etc.), I feel I should find out about that before I make any decisions. I feel that my poor body was subjected to too much by trying four drugs, (flecainide, Multaq, and others mentioned above) one at a time, which did not work for me. I temporarily went back on flacainide when I left hospital because at least it stops the afib but had to stop a few days ago because it made me so very ill. Now without looking much further, they are recommending an AV node ablation (because I am so small and thin and pretty much intolerant to all of the potent and powerful afib drugs) and a pacemaker which is very scary. I am sending records to Mayo for second opinion on that. I feel my poor 100 pound body has been subjected to so much abuse and poison with all of this experimentation so I must get myself a rest before I go any further. In the meantime I am off flecainide waiting nervously for an afib episode, (still on Xarelto and metoprolol) still feeling weak, fatigued, cannot function at all except sit on couch. This is not living. Six weeks ago I was working full time. Very depressed and scared.

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Just entered this discussion and I wish you best. My husband has AFib and has a pacemaker since 2004 and been on Coumadin also. Hopefully you will find a solution to your anemia since that can drain your energy, appetite, and cause heart palpitations. They never found the reason for my sisters chronic anemia but a blood transfusion got her back on track almost immediately and it has been almost 10 years without further transfusions . Having a pacemaker is not a picnic and blood thinners is poison for your body and skin. If you do get a pacemaker ask that they place it under your pectoral muscle especially as small as you are. My husbands broke thru his skin due to blood thinners making your skin thin and fragile plus the fact he is thin and small framed. Now that it under his pectoral muscle no one can see or feel it. Good luck on your journey.

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@frande

After almost 3 1/2 years of dealing with nausea from the medication I take for my a-fib I am still frustrated that I don't have an answer. I think the one that causes me the most problem is Carvedilol. I feel if I change from what I am taking, that the effects will be the same. The Dr. gave me something to help with anxiety and nausea, it has helped some, but I feel I am just taking more pills to help the side effects of other medication. I have a-fib all the time so know I have to take something. Any suggestions what to do. It gets hard dealing with this.

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Knowing everyone's situation is different re heart, I am taking doletilide and it keeps me in rhythm most of the time. They say it's normal to go out now and then, but adding the CBD cream seems to make things better. You know, CBD cream is now FDA approved for children with epilepsy, and just a thought, epilepsy is an electrical problem. And so is afib….hum??? Also, keeping the salt way low in your food really is important in managing afib.

I've had stiffness and mild joint pain since taking the blood thinner Eliquis. I find 1000-1500mg vit c helps lesson this problem. I remind myself that issues from blood thinners is far better than a stroke! Also, I find beautiful music a real boost for mood and also yoga stretches from the youtube. Just do things that make you feel better. That's all any of us can do. Hugs.

Very interesting. I’m in Afib all the time and we are managing the rate. CBD is proving to be helpful for a variety of illnesses. My sister takes the oil to help with Parkinson’s. Never heard of it in cream form. Good to know.

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Here's a bread recipe my husband came up with due to salt restrictions. (Regular bread is loaded with salt)…A bread maker with dual kneading blades.
1C H2O, 1/2C unsweetened almond milk, 1C dry oatmeal, 3TBS olive oil, 1TBS sugar, 3C unbleached white flour, 2TBS flax seed meal,5TBS chia seeds, 2 tsp yeast. (NO SALT). Cook "light crust", Quick. Each machine will vary you can play with the recipe changing this and that. It's really good. Low fat margarine or the like is good too.

@healthytoday

Here's a bread recipe my husband came up with due to salt restrictions. (Regular bread is loaded with salt)…A bread maker with dual kneading blades.
1C H2O, 1/2C unsweetened almond milk, 1C dry oatmeal, 3TBS olive oil, 1TBS sugar, 3C unbleached white flour, 2TBS flax seed meal,5TBS chia seeds, 2 tsp yeast. (NO SALT). Cook "light crust", Quick. Each machine will vary you can play with the recipe changing this and that. It's really good. Low fat margarine or the like is good too.

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There are also herbal salt subs on the market (online).

@healthytoday

There are also herbal salt subs on the market (online).

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Also, non processed foods really help. For the sweet tooth, several raw apples cut up, put in blender, add some blueberries, strawberries etc, blend. Makes an apple sauce. Heat in microwave, when in bowl, add cinnamon, nutmeg etc. and some dark choc chips. Yummmmmm. Lowww salt and sugar. Natural sugars.

I'm curious what dosage you take. I take 100 mg twice a day, and have had no side effects.

I take 5mg twice a day. I'm small and we are all different.

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