Atrial Fibrillation

I wrote about being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (afib) in My Carcinoid Heart about a month ago. I saw my primary care physician a few days after that. He referred me to a cardiologist and also felt that my blood pressure may be “over-medicated”, so he took me off my high blood pressure medicine. Two days ago, I had an echocardiogram. Today I met with the cardiologist.

The cardiologist and I discussed my symptoms of lightheadedness and shortness of breath.  He believes the shortness of breath and the lightheadedness are symptoms of the afib, not the carcinoid tumor and not my being out of shape.  The lightheadedness is also a side effect of four of the medications that I take, so he thinks it was a good idea to take me off the high blood pressure medicine.  My blood pressure was only mildly elevated when we met.  I have had only a couple of minor episodes of lightheadedness since stopping the medicine.

Currently, I am to continue to take one baby aspirin a day and to work at staying well hydrated with electrolytes like gatorade or other sports drinks.  I can continue my exercise although in the future we may have to limit strenuous bike rides, not yet though.  When Laurie and I return from Hawaii in early June (Woo Hoo!!!), I will have to wear a continuous heart monitor for a couple of weeks to measure my heart rate and arrhythmia anytime that I get lightheaded.

If the heart monitor shows more problems than he suspects, we may have to talk about blood thinners or a pacemaker. Ironically, other drugs for afib are used when your heart beats too fast. Mine beats slower than most people’s and sometimes too slow, so, in worst case it would be the pacemaker.

On the plus side, he saw no sign of the heart valve deformity that can be caused by carcinoid.  About 25% of carcinoids die of heart failure and a number of carcinoids must have their heart valves replaced with artificial valves. I am thankful that we are not looking at that, at least for now.

He told me something that I would never have guessed.  Endurance athletes like distance runners and bicyclists (me?) have afib more often than the ordinary population.  Who would have guessed that training to be healthy and athletic can have such a dangerous side effect?

The net of all this is that I have atrial fibrillation.  Current treatment is baby aspirin and careful hydration.  Final treatment decision to be determined.

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Atrial Fibrillation was last modified: August 19th, 2012 by cy

11 thoughts on “Atrial Fibrillation

  1. Hawaii sounds like the best possible medicine! As I take my six little daily pills, I wonder from time to time about the balance between all the amazing help that modern pharmaceuticals deliver and possible side effects or hidden harm. I’ve had to wear a heart monitor for a day or two, so I suppose weeks of it aren’t out of the question, but…. Just keep on truckin!

    1. The wonderful thing is that I am still an “interesting case” because my heart runs slower than most people’s unlike most afib patients. This all could add to problems when I need more treatments for carcinoid.

    1. Thanks Sarah, just one more thing that’s great about entering the “golden years” right? Whoever invented that phrase was not truthful.

  2. I am on the sidelines temporarily from all my long walking. The doctor said I walkied to much and need to change my routine. Hip problems now. But hey enough about me, Hawaii sounds awesome. Have fun.

    1. Linda, hope your hip problems are minor. Six years ago, a doctor told me that I was training on my bike too much and she was right. I felt much better just by cutting back a bit.

  3. hey Cy,do not think that this diagnosis is terrible, as to the old age thing it seems like we all get new little nuggets of diagnosis weekly. Have a great trip and if possible take me in your luggage.

    1. You got the diagnosis weekly part right! It’s not terrible. It’s just one more thing. I will hate it if I have to quit biking.

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