Yesterday, April 17, I met my new oncologist. She is very impressive and easy to deal with. I am glad that I was assigned to her.
After getting to know each other, she did a quick check up and discovered that I have atrial fibrillation (afib). She ordered an ECG and got the Cardio department to check it and make sure. Now I have an appointment on Friday to see my Primary Care Physician and he will decide what to do from there. It is interesting that I have seen doctors every month for the last 12 months (including a heart specialist last summer) and this never came up before. Also interesting, the light-headedness and shortness of breath that I have complained about might be attributable to this. She checked me because of those complaints I think.
I knew the carcinoid tumor can cause Carcinoid Heart Disease (40% of midgut carcinoid with metastasis to the liver – that’s me folks – get Carcinoid Heart Disease which is a deformity of the heart valves which might show up initially as afib). That is not afib. Yesterday I found out that the injection I get every month causes afib in 3 to 10 percent of the patients. I have sleep apnea which may increase the likelihood of afib. I used to smoke which increases the chances of afib. I am perhaps 20 pounds overweight which also increases the chances.
How serious is it? Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of heart arrhythmia (erratic heartbeat). The chief danger is stroke. It increases the likelihood of stroke by 5 or 6 times. It is usually treated readily with blood thinners or sometimes by shocking the heart to get the muscles working properly again. Perhaps worst case would require a pacemaker. However, if it were Carcinoid Heart Disease there would be much bigger problems which we would have to tackle. I don’t know for sure yet, but I think the ECG would have shown if it were Carcinoid Heart Disease and the oncologist does not seem to be considering this.
On the bright side,I was not ordered to quit exercising. Today was another beautiful Colorado day and I rode my bike 20 miles with a friend. I took it easy and had only a little light-headedness and breathlessness (and I took an aspirin before the ride).
More to come on this topic.