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Old 08-27-2008, 04:46 PM   #21
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Maybe you can help me out. My dad has afib and is taking an anticoagulant.
Sorry to hear about your Dad's problems, and at such a young age.

I hope he has seen a cardiologist who is also an electrophysiologist. Usually they practice at major heart centers. There are some special "radiofrequency ablation" procedures that sometimes help, as well as some unique pacemaker types that can benefit selective patients. They're probably using sotalol and/or amiodarone on him now, but it sounds like time to bring in the big guns.

Get thee to a cardiology referral center with your dad, and best of luck.
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:38 PM   #22
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I had the holter monitor done a while back. Showed nothing abnormal. My heart would feel like it had a big THUMP every once in a while. Rarely it would do it several times in a row. Doc said it was withing normal parameters, but it kind of freaks me out. He mentioned beta blockers as possible treatment, but those have side affects too.

I think stress contributes to it, and probably a moderate to high intake of coffee. My dad actually had some sort of arrythmia and was on medicine for it.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:00 PM   #23
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This is an eerily timely thread. Two weeks ago I experienced a weird episode which involved my heart beating very fast, almost painfully so. It lasted for nearly 5 minutes. I saw my doctor later that day, and she thought I had experienced a prolonged episode of Supra Ventricular Tachycardia (SVT). She referred me to a cardiologist, whom I was able to see last week. He confirmed her tentative diagnosis, and has scheduled a stress echocardiogram for next week.

Once you turn 50, all sorts of weird stuff starts happening.
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:53 PM   #24
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On the plus side: There are many methods to control (not cure) A. Fib. and the threat of a Stroke is then reduced to no greater than for the general population with proper treatment. The sooner you visit a doctor and begin treatment the better. <well, Duh!>
My DH had A Fib, however he had the RF ablation in January and it turned out really well for him. No more episodes of A Fib, no more medication or anti-coagulants. He is back to leading a normal life and a changed person now he is not using the drugs. He used to spend significant periods of time with his heart out of wack. We and his cardiologist consider him cured at this time.

However, whilst I was in the waiting room waiting for my DH to come out of surgery, I spoke with the wife of the next patient in line to have the ablation procedure with DH's surgeon and he was going in for his 3rd go. For anyone suffering from A Fib I would investigate the possibility of ablation because it has changed DH's for the better by so much that he is unrecognisable from a year ago.
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Old 08-28-2008, 12:34 AM   #25
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Years ago, we used to try to "shock" people with AF back into normal rhythm. We rarely do that now - just control the rate with medication.
My father had this done some years back. They put him out so he remembered nothing about it, but the nurse told him when he woke up that he swore a blue streak when they jolted him.

That's my old man!
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Old 08-28-2008, 06:04 AM   #26
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Occasionally I'll get heart palpitations but I just cough and poof they're gone!
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:23 AM   #27
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Occasionally I'll get heart palpitations but I just cough and poof they're gone!
In a way, you are fortunate. As I mentioned earlier, I have Permanent Atrial Fibrillation and am assymptomatic -- meaning I have no symptoms. This relieves me not only of any discomfort but allows me to enjoy a "normal" lifestyle; no shortness of breath, no chest pains, no fatique, etc. The downside is that my body does not inform me of any irregularities.

My normal, at rest, heart rate is in the 60s but can race to the 150s. Furthermore, the rate is very irregular, e.g., rapid beats followed by 2-3 seconds with no beats (but averaging 65 bpm). It is this rapid beat and the pause that puts me at risk for a stroke. The rapid beat causes the heart (the pump) to be inefficient and the pause causes the blood flow to stop or, at least, slow down considerably. Each of these situations cause the blood to pool in the heart and, consequently, could coagulate. A clot could then be forced from the heart directly to the brain. Again, I have no sensation of this irregular heart action.

I take a small dose of Atenolol (beta-blocker) in the morning and a small dose of Digoxin in the evening to prevent my heart rate from "taking off." In addition, I am on (and will be for the rest of my life) Warfarin that regulates the Prothrombine Time of my blood to around 2.1 INR (I believe this is an International measurement of how long it takes blood to clot after it is exposed to air.) ("Beta," by the way, is another term for adrenolin.)

Since I am asymtomatic, I have no restrictions on my physical activities. I can, for example, walk, at 4 mph, for 45 minutes with no discomfort. I do find it hard sometimes to walk up steep slopes at high altitude (10,000 or so) but blame this more on age than on my heart condition. I do try to avoid Rock Climbing and other physical contact activities because of the Warfarin and the risk of bleeding.

I am, in all other respects, pretty healthy -- blood pressure 110/60, total Cholestoral in the 155 range with good HDL/LDL ratio, low blood sugar, etc. I should point out I am a little on the heavy side (5' 11' - 215-220 lbs) and not quite as limber as I once was. My Primary Care physician calls my A. Fib an "anomoly" but I could do without it if given the choice.

There are over 2 million people in the United State with A. Fib. so this is a fairly common condition. I have, over the past six years, come to the conclusion that there are about the same number of ways the condition presents itself. There are, as far as I can tell, no reliable generalities that are useful for self-diagnosis and self-treatment. Everyone (and I do mean everyone) is different. On the other hand, there are many people who have lived with it for over fifty years without any serious complications.

Okay, that was a little "windy" for me. I have taken the time to write all this because my condition was found by "accident." During a routine Annual Physical, I asked the doctor to check the accuracy of my personal Blood Pressure machine against his. When he put the stethoscope to the inside of my elbow, he got a funny look on his face and said, "Oh, oh!" The nurse had taken a reading of 72 bpm just minutes earlier and noticed nothing wrong. I could have easily been one of those who "was healthy as an ox and just keeled over one day" had it not been for that quirk in the examination. I guess my point is that if something doesn't "feel" right with your heart, don't ignore it, see a doctor immediately. If you are like me and have no sensation of your heart beating (I can't even take my own pulse), ask that the doctor check your heart rate instead of (or in addition to) having the nurse do it. Apparently, the sound of a heart in A. Fib. is pretty distinctive.
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Old 08-28-2008, 09:22 AM   #28
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I also have Atrial Fibrillation (Paroxysmal) which means I am in sinus rhythm most of the time with occasional periods of irregularity. I was diagnosed "by accident" about 15 years ago when I went to my family doctor for something else, and he measured a pulse rate of 170 (which I didn't feel) and heard the irregularity with his stethoscope. He put me in the hospital, and I converted back into sinus rhythm (without a cardioversion) after several days of taking intravenous medications. Over the years my medications have been adjusted, and I am currently taking atenolol, digoxin, and amiodarone which have done a very good job of keeping me in sinus rhythm for about 10 years now. I also take one 325mg tablet of aspirin daily as an anti-coagulant. I have no restrictions of any kind placed upon me.

At first I was unable to tell whether I was fibrillating or not, but I have learned to take my own pulse with my thumb on my wrist, and I can feel whether I'm in sinus rhythm or not. With a little practice, it is easy to learn how to do this. If you have trouble taking your own pulse, I would recommend buying one of those digital blood pressure meters (I have an Omron) which also measures the pulse rate. My meter has a little heart that flashes on the readout as it gathers the data for the readings. If I am fibrillating, the little heart will flash irregularly due to the extra beats, and the pulse rate will be higher than normal. In my case, my resting pulse is typically about 54-58, lower than normal due to the atenolol, which slows the heart rate.
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Old 08-28-2008, 09:50 AM   #29
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A lawyer friend of mine with ventricular tachycardia ended up with a defibrillator implanted to shock him back to normal rhythm. He says that it feels like kick in the chest when it does a bigger shock. It also apparently does other things to help regulate heart rhythm.

These weren't around when my father had the same problem and we made a lot of wild drives to the hospital to get him shocked back to normal rhythm.

Well, we are probably scaring the OP. The PVCs are not the same thing as this more dramatic stuff.
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Old 08-28-2008, 10:20 AM   #30
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I have learned to take my own pulse with my thumb on my wrist, and I can feel whether I'm in sinus rhythm or not. With a little practice, it is easy to learn how to do this. If you have trouble taking your own pulse, I would recommend buying one of those digital blood pressure meters (I have an Omron) which also measures the pulse rate. My meter has a little heart that flashes on the readout as it gathers the data for the readings.
I have an old (20 years?) Polar Accurex II watch that has a chest strap. I put it on whenever I am exercising or leaving the house for a length of time. It, like your BP Meter, has the little flashing heart. The advantage to the watch is that it is updated every 4 or 5 seconds so it is in "real-time." I have a LifeSource Wrist Digital Blood Pressure Monitor that has a "flashing" Heart but I don't believe it is tracking my actual heart beats. In any event, at the end of its cycle it only informs me that I have an irregular heart beat... and gives the average rate for the test period. My doctor has confirmed that the watch is tracking the actual beats.

I had originally purchased a MIO watch that tracked the heart rate by using your fingers to arc across two buttons but that was less than satisfactory.

Heart Rate Monitor Watches | MIO Watch
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Old 08-28-2008, 01:49 PM   #31
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Interesting. Yes, I do drink coffee, but is the "lite" version (half caffeine), and I only drink 1 1/2 to 2 cups in the morning. No caffeine the rest of the day, as it really winds me up, and I can't sleep. How much coffee do you drink?
While I was doing the early morning commute, I drank on large mug that i would brew before leaving the house (#4 line on the coffee maker), then I'd grab another senior coffee at Chick-fil-a with a breakfast burrito or biscuit when I arrived at the office park. I like my coffee strong, and high octane. So far this week I've only had two cups on Monday during a 2 1/2 hour breakfast with a friend I haven't talked with in awhile.
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:42 PM   #32
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About 15 years or so ago, I experienced a number of PVC episodes -- oftentimes while I was quietly sitting at my desk at work. My MD found nothing unusual, but ordered a Holter monitor test -- and asked that I keep a food/beverage/activity log for that 24 hour period.
Turns out that I have an extreme sensitivity to caffeine -- within 20 minutes or so after drinking coffee, iced tea or Diet Coke (all of which I used to drink in copious quantities) -- I would have an episode. It was almost like clockwork.
Doc took me off all caffeine -- and I suffered real withdrawal symptoms for about three weeks -- end result: no additional PVC episodes since.
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Old 08-28-2008, 03:28 PM   #33
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Well, we are probably scaring the OP. The PVCs are not the same thing as this more dramatic stuff.
Nah, I'm cool. I know from my research that there is a big difference between PVC's and the more serious conditions. And I did make an appt with a cardiologist so in a few weeks I should be able to put my concerns to rest. No recurrences of heart flip-flops since the other night, so that helps, too!
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Old 08-29-2008, 01:37 AM   #34
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In addition, I am on (and will be for the rest of my life) Warfarin...
Is that a typo or are you referring to the rat poison?

I'm afraid to ask where you're getting the prescription filled...
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Old 08-29-2008, 07:14 AM   #35
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Is that a typo or are you referring to the rat poison?

I'm afraid to ask where you're getting the prescription filled...
No typo. I am, indeed, referring to the chemical compound that was found when fed to rats, in a massive dose, caused them to die of internal bleeding. I am no more concerned of that happening to me than I am of an overdose of water -- which has been found to be lethal to humans when ingested in massive doses.

This is what I was referring to earlier as "the Warfarin/Coumadin propaganda." Coumadin (and its generic Warfarin) has saved millions of lives and could have saved my friends, that I spoke of, from tremendous misery. (one of these friends I have known since childhood and the other for over ten years.)

In any event, I shudder to think that you would take prescription medicine without regard to dosage restrictions.

I have purchased it at CVS/Caremark, Walgreens, Wal-Mart and even Long's in Hawaii but it is widely available at any drugstore.
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Old 08-29-2008, 02:18 PM   #36
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No typo. I am, indeed, referring to the chemical compound that was found when fed to rats, in a massive dose, caused them to die of internal bleeding. I am no more concerned of that happening to me than I am of an overdose of water -- which has been found to be lethal to humans when ingested in massive doses.

This is what I was referring to earlier as "the Warfarin/Coumadin propaganda." Coumadin (and its generic Warfarin) has saved millions of lives and could have saved my friends, that I spoke of, from tremendous misery. (one of these friends I have known since childhood and the other for over ten years.)

In any event, I shudder to think that you would take prescription medicine without regard to dosage restrictions.

I have purchased it at CVS/Caremark, Walgreens, Wal-Mart and even Long's in Hawaii but it is widely available at any drugstore.
Both DH and my father have been on Coumadin/Warfarin in connection with cardiac conditions...and each has been followed closely by their respective MDs...periodic blood draws, etc.

I too was taken aback when I first read up on this med!
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Old 08-31-2008, 12:02 PM   #37
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I have those episodes now and then with the rapid, hard heartbeats and I feel like I'm about to faint for a couple of seconds and then everything back to normal. The only time its caused a problem was when it happened in an office meeting. Thank goodness I was sitting and could just slump over til it passed. Have never discussed it with the doc because my bp, cholesterol, weight and all that are good. Maybe I'll bring it up the next time I'm there.
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Old 08-31-2008, 12:39 PM   #38
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Have never discussed it with the doc because my bp, cholesterol, weight and all that are good. Maybe I'll bring it up the next time I'm there.
Please do. In fact, why wait "til the next time." Call on Tuesday and make an appointment for this specifically -- they will then be better prepared to give a complete examination.
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