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Dec 31, 2019 · Calcium Scan in Heart & Blood Health

fastback66……..after reading your posts several times, the ONE thing that really jumped out at me was your statement "I don't have a lot of faith in our local medical community." That is a REALLY scary place to be…..one I completely understand. Without total trust in your medical team, it's worse than being between a rock and a hard spot since we are essentially dealing with life and death if our hearts are in need of help. I don't want to be overly dramatic here, but I was very glad to hear you are gathering up your medical records and are apparently heading to Northwestern in Chicago for further evaluation. I certainly don't need to tell you about the extraordinary care you will receive there.
I guess there WAS one other issue you mentioned which was the angiogram you had 6 YEARS ago that showed "a percentage" of blockage in your arteries. I wish you had given us those numbers! Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that from the time of your angiogram……and the following 6 YEARS to the present, you wrote……" I have been troubled by the idea of an impending event without warning." Are you saying that during those intervening 6 YEARS you were NOT being followed closely by your cardiologist? THAT certainly explains the lack of confidence in your local medical community! 15 years ago when I had my first cardiac catheterization and a small amount of plaque was found in my LAD, I was told to make some serious lifestyle changes or I could expect a "cardiac event" within 5 years! (Apparently the amount of plaque they found was small enough to NOT warrant stenting at that time) I was ALSO told to have yearly follow ups with my cardiologist to monitor any progression) To make an incredibly long story short, I DID find a great cardiologist at the hospital I worked at and he followed me twice a year. During that time I had SO much blood work and scans and wore all sorts of patches and did so many stress tests, I felt like a lab rat. But an extremely well cared for lab rat. When I began to have odd pains in my upper chest, just below my collar bones, which made me think they couldn't be related to my heart, the first person I went to was my cardio, who scheduled me immediately for a catheterization and possible stenting because what I was feeling was angina! (Yes, women's symptoms ARE often much different than men's and because of this are FAR TOO OFTEN misdiagnosed until it's too late) That my cardiologist knew what these pains meant and acted immediately saved my life. Those stents were placed about 8 years ago and I see my cardio two times a year as I am "blessed" with a disorder called hyperlipidemia. (My body produces way too much cholesterol all by itself) My stents fixed my problems and are continuing to do their job……even if I do have to be on a mega dose of cholesterol meds. Last year I was diagnosed with AFIB and the massive rounds of blood work and scans and monitors and drug trials began, again…….in March of 2019, I underwent an ablation. For 9 months I have been free of AFIB and will hopefully be one of the lucky ones who only have to undergo this procedure once…….because it's brutal. So, I have CAD, 2 cardiac stents, one stent for an abdominal aortic aneurysm that was very near rupturing, PVC's and a heart that has been, literally, burned in 80+ spots to form scar tissue for my wonky electrical system to get back on track and keep my heart in sinus rhythm. But I realize I have not addressed the main concern YOU have. And that is regarding calcium scores and excessive calcium attributable to the parathyroid. I really apologize that I've made this entire post more about ME than YOU. During all my years of people messing about with my heart and all the lab work and tests……I have no memory of my calcium scores EVER being mentioned. And I think IF my calcium was a contributing factor to my problems, I would have been made aware of it. I wasn't. I also have osteopenia which is one step down form osteoporosis, a condition many women my age…68+ have with bone loss. For this I take a pretty high dose of calcium which both my cardio and my EP were definitely aware of and neither have said I should stop. Please let me apologize for what has turned into a rather self-centered rant and end by saying that when you get to Northwestern, they are going to check EVERYTHING (including your calcium levels) and when you leave there, I have absolutely no doubt you are going to have a very structurally sound heart! I hope you keep us all informed of your progress. I know we ALL wish you the very best and a return to good health and no more anxiety. I also hope the docs at Northwestern can recommend an excellent cardio to follow you close to where you live……one you WILL have absolute trust in. If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me and I'll do my very best to answer it or help you find the answer. It's ALL going to be good, Don.
RubyWitch

Dec 23, 2019 · Afib in Heart Rhythm Conditions

I'm glad to hear you can still "twirl," Soph!!!! My arthritis prevents me even walking fast to say nothing about "twirling!" LOL And you're so right about changing positions too abruptly! Orthostatic hypertension can be a real danger for a lot of us! I'm really happy to hear that at 85 you are still "out there!" Gives the rest of us hope! (You must be a tough old bird!) Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and may we ALL find some peace in the New Year!
Love you,
RubyWitch

Dec 23, 2019 · Afib in Heart Rhythm Conditions

There are a great many triggers for AFIB. Some are fairly common to most of us, like stress, anxiety and lack of sleep. Alcohol, for some people is a trigger, as is just about anything with caffeine in it, like coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. But there are people to whom none of these are triggers. And there are people who could list triggers most of us wouldn't even think of. And sometimes……AFIB just happens. (Perhaps by an "internal" trigger we aren't even aware of)
The best way to figure out what triggers YOURS is to keep a journal. When my cardiologist suggested I do this, he said to write down EVERYTHING that preceded the attack, like if I was tired. If I had eaten, and when I ate it, and how much I ate and what I ate. Was I stressed/upset/worried about anything. What I was doing just prior to the attack. Was I home, comfortable and relaxed or was I rushing home from a busy day at work and stuck in traffic. Well……you get the idea. WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING! It took me about 4 weeks of journaling (I had almost daily AFIB) to finally begin "seeing" my triggers. When I began to change what I could and avoid the things that always seemed to be there when I had an attack…….I WAS able to lessen the amount of attacks I was having. But there were still times when it just happened…….when none of my triggers were affecting me. But…….if you are noticing an increase in the number of episodes you're having, you absolutely need to discuss this with your cardiologist. Ask about wearing a ZIO patch. It's very similar to a Holter, but with the ZIO, you push a button on the patch every time you have an AFIB episode and then record in the journal that comes with it what was going on when it happened. It can, for some of us, take quite awhile to figure out most of our triggers and I'm not sure we ever know ALL of them. For me, trying to live WITH AFIB was just NOT working out and I did not have good luck with antiarrhythmics…….so I had an ablation 9 months ago, and, knock on wood, since then I have been totally AFIB free. I'm a 68 year old woman with CAD and 2 cardiac stents which were placed 8 years before I developed AFIB. I also continue to have the occasional PVC, which is usually when I go over my caffeine limit or I'm really tired.
I wish you the best of luck.
RubyWitch

Dec 9, 2019 · PACs after ablation in Heart Rhythm Conditions

To tugboater……….I agree 100% with slynmb about having PAC's or PVC'S after an ablation. I am a 68 y/o woman who had PVC's for YEARS before I developed AFIB. I didn't like them (who does?) but was reassured over and over by my cardio that they were benign, that EVERYBODY had them, just that some of us could feel them, sometimes quite strongly, while many people were completely unaware of them. I eventually learned to live with them. My own husband was one of the lucky ones who NEVER felt a PVC or PAC and had no idea what I was talking about! When I'd tell him my heart was doing its "flip-flopping again," he'd just look at me like I was imagining things. After the ablation, for about 5 months, I had no episode's of AFIB and my PVC's had "magically" gone away as well. But a few months ago, I once again began to feel the occasional PVC, which caused me concern. When I talked to my cardiologist about the return of the PVC's, he once again reassured me that this did NOT mean my AFIB was returning and most likely meant that the ablation had simply "interrupted" them during the recovery period of the surgery and said that many people with PVC's or PAC's felt some relief from them after an ablation, but they almost always returned, often at a much less frequency, which is what I am experiencing. I usually only feel them now if I overdo the coffee or if I'm REALLY tired. I would like to say to you to not worry about them, but since we are all different, and I am NOT a doctor, my advice is to speak to your cardiologist about them. He/she is the ONLY one who is going to be able to give you the answers and reassurance you're seeking. I hope you get the peace of mind you are looking for.

Dec 4, 2019 · Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation patient wants med management only in Heart Rhythm Conditions

Hi elwood…..I'm feeling like a bit of a broken record here with my repetitive advice. But, because I am NOT a doctor, I believe it's the only responsible advise I CAN give. If you are still bothered by episodes of AFIB/flutter and PAC'S, I think the fact you are discussing a second (touch-up) ablation with your cardiology team is absolutely your best move. Because I am not a doctor, I would NEVER tell anyone to ignore symptoms or stop a medication or even lower it without a full discussion with your doctors. I don't really see a question in your post, just information about what is happening with you, but it seems like you already know what steps to take and you're taking them. You don't say how long it's been since your ablation, so it's very possible some "touch-ups" are needed. I had my first ablation in March of this year and, knock on wood, have had zero episodes of AFIB, but a couple months ago began feeling the very occasional PVC. Of course I discussed this with my cardio. He reminded me that I had been having PVC's for at least 10 years before the AFIB developed, and having a few now does not mean much of anything. It doesn't mean my ablation "failed." He just reminded me that in a structurally sound heart, PVC's and PAC's are harmless and that virtually EVERYBODY has them. It's just the lucky ones who aren't even aware of them. I, on the hand, am aware of every little twinge or tweak in my chest. He did advise that I keep a journal about the frequency and duration of the PVC's and we'd discuss that at our next follow up. I don't think I helped you and I'm sorry for that……..but my advice to virtually anyone I respond to is "SEE YOUR CARDIO." We can sympathize, we can compare meds and our reactions to them, we can offer opinions about what WE'D do, we can offer support, and we can, to a certain degree, offer reassurance……..(And here I go again) but because we are not doctors, we cannot diagnose anyone and we can't advocate you have a certain procedure or take a particular medication or stop taking a medication. I have received great comfort from this forum and people have been very supportive and encouraging…….and for that I am grateful. But the bottom line will always remain that if anyone is having concerns, the ONLY person to get the answer from is your cardiologist. I hope you see yours soon and get these issues cleared up so you have peace of mind. For those of us with heart issues, peace of mind is often the best medicine. I wish you the very best.
RubyWitch

Dec 3, 2019 · afib and blood thinners in Heart Rhythm Conditions

The ONLY person who can help you make decisions about starting or stopping a medication is your cardiologist. We are NOT doctors , we are just a very wide group of heart patients like you with a wide range of opinions. While it can be helpful to hear from other folks about their experiences and opinions which can open discussions with your doctor, he/she is the only one truly qualified to guide you in your health decisions. I wish you the best.

Nov 26, 2019 · Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation patient wants med management only in Heart Rhythm Conditions

Once again, I can only recommend you take these concerns to your cardiologist. When I read your SECOND post where you wrote "It took many hours to reduce my heart rate in hospital in Oct.; I have regurgitation in one valve, and have 3 risk factors with chad vasc score: female and age counts twice (74)" this was information I didn't have when I read your original post. With these other issues present, my advice to discuss ALL of these issues with your cardio takes on a bit more importance. I wish you the best outcome and peace of mind.

Nov 22, 2019 · Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation patient wants med management only in Heart Rhythm Conditions

Since you have only had three episodes of paroxysmal AFIB since 2015, why would you want to take any medication at all? With episodes as infrequent as yours, I wouldn't even consider antiarrhythmics and you are miles away from needing an ablation. Unless your episodes last for many, many hours and your heart rate is dangerously high during them, I would just try to learn to live with them. (I have paroxysmal AFIB and lived with it for over 10 years) If your heart is otherwise structurally sound, the type of AFIB you have is not considered dangerous. If possible, try to recall what was happening in your life when you had these episodes. Virtually all of us with AFIB have triggers that set off an episode. For me it's stress and anxiety, so I do a lot of work to manage both of those. I would recommend you have a long talk with your cardiologist about your concerns and how YOU want to manage your AFIB. I hope that discussion will give you the peace of mind you're searching for.
RubyWitch