Atrial Fibrillation and Cardioversion

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My husband is 52. He is fit and healthy (other than asthma). He was recently diagnosed with Afib. He has had all the tests etc. and his heart is fine, except for the afib. He scores a zero on the stroke risk test. He doesn't have high bp or anything but this irregular heartbeat. The cardiologist wants him to have cardioversion. Had anyone else in a situation like his had this done? It seems so "violent"!  I have been doing some research and it looks like there is a high probability that it will come back in the months after the procedure. We are going to meet with the specialists that do this procedure in the next few weeks. I am looking for info from people that have had it done. I am afraid that it will kill him. I realize there is a risk of stroke with afib, but he is taking the aspirin and like I said scored a zero on the stroke risk assessment......we don't know what to do. Our family dr. didn't tell him to do it, or not do it. She said when we meet with the specialists we will be able to caculate the risk vs benefits...He currently has no symptoms of anything. What should we do!?!?!?! We are also bothered by the heavy duty thinners he has to take leading up to, and after the procedure. He plays hockey and the cardiologist said he would need to not take them for 3 days before each hockey game, which is weird bc he plays weekly....this is frustrating bc at least with some medical issues there are symptoms/problems etc and you have a procedure done and feel better. He feels fine, but they want him to do this....anyone have any imput for us? Much appreciated, Carolyn

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  • Posted

    It is very difficult when one does not have symptoms to decide to do a procedure. I have been struggling with this for a very long time. I have afib. no symptoms until recently lightheadnesses maybe nothing to do with afib..and climbing stairs which I have had all along. When I stress myself exercise wise I feel it . sounds like your husband does not as he plays sports. All I can say is it is a scary thing to decide or not to decide as one never knows when something could happen either way. As for blood thinners been on them for a few years. I have fallen a couple of times and that is when I notice what they do..very bad bruising and takes a long time to heal..of course different blood thinners. I know nothing about cardioversion as I have never had one. I understand as if not for what I mentioned I would not think anything worng. It has psyschological effects in that has limited my traveling life. instilled fear and feel as if a sword is hanging on my head. Sought medical and psychological help but so far in limbo..not a nice place to be. There are those who somehow take the opposite road as I hope comments will foretell..Individual the way one looks at things. Good luck. 
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    • Posted

      Hi Betty,

      The reason why your husbands doctor wants to put him on blood thinners before the cardioversion is to make sure he does not have a blood clot already formed in his heart. He will also have to take the blood thinners for a short time after the cardioversion too this is to minimize the risk of stroke. As for the cardioversion his doctor will give him medicine your husband will not feel or rembember anything about it . The whole idea is to convert his heart back into normal sinus rhythm .I had this done a couple weeks ago I didn't feel anything they shocked my heart 3 times my heart still didn't convert back. After a few days of being home my heart converted back on its own.

      Good luck.

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  • Posted

    Hello Carolyn, I take it that your husband is in permanent AF? An irregular heart beat such as AF can lead to blood clots so an anti-coagulant is essential to stop the possiblity of  stroke even if he scores zero for any other risk factor. AF itslef is enough. An aspirin  does not really hack it, especially if he is in permanent AF. The newer anticoagulants are good news.

    A cardioversion is not a big deal. I used to end up having them, if the medicis in A&E could not stop the episode with the drugs but I had paroxysmal AF rather different. On two occasions I was cardioverted in A&E and released a few hours later.

    Leaving a heart in AF can lead to all sorts of complications so its best to stop it if possible. A cardioversion is extremely unlikely to kill your husband! A routine procedure for most cardiologists.

    Try looking up the British Heart Foundation for information  

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    • Posted

      yes, it is constrant afib. The dr. noticed it in Feb when he went in for a routine checkup to get a refill for his asthma puffers. It hasn't gone away. When I listen it sounds like a regular heartbeat that misses a few. Like beat beat beat ____ beat beat beat ____ if that  makes sense.

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  • Posted

    I am 56 and in the past 3 years have had just 3 episodes of afib, resulting in various drugs at accident and emergency dept, to bring me back in rhythm. I haven't had an episode for 14 months now.  I take no blood thinners, no meds, just carry a pill in the pocket ( bisoprolol) around with me. To suggest cardio aversion at this point does seem extreme. I am in the U.K. 

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  • Posted

    I am surprised that your husband scores zero on stroke assessment risk as I've always been told by doctors that there is some risk and that it is necessary to take a blood thinner (in my case Warfarin with paf).

     

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    • Posted

      He answered no to all questions...both cardiologists did the risk test. no other heart issues ever. no diabetes, young, etc. he scored zero both times. They told him he didn't even have to take the aspirin if he didn't want to. But he does. They want him to start a blood thinner for the cardioversion....He has zero symptoms, though his normal bp has dropped to low bp now. The first cardiologist said to do nothing and come back in 6 months, the second  one wants to meet with the dr's that do the cardioversion. said bc he ing and healthy and has no other issues it is worth it do do. But all my research shows the afib usually comes back....we are in Canada

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  • Posted

    sorry for my horrible typing. I have problems typing on this website, it keeps freezing my keyboard. Always does for some reason.
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  • Posted

    Hi Carolyn - I am 61 and apart from the  AF issue otherwise in good health - like your husband I play a lot of sport - tennis, pickleball etc and do some jogging - for years I had occasional - what they call "paroxysmal" -episodes of AF which were controlled by drug treatment- beta blockers on a regualr basis and a " pill in pocket "- propefenone / Rhythmol for use on a one shot basis when I  went into AF which was not often but I was aware of it when it happened - this worked well and all incidences of AF "self corrected" within a few days or a week 

    However 9 weeks ago I  went into AF and this time it has not self corrected - as such been told that also have to have a cardioversion- which will be the first time for me - I am now in what they call "persistent" AF ie it will  not self correct to normal sinus rhythm unless this is corrected by cardioversion

    I dont know how long your husband has been in AF - and assume they have told him he is definitely in AF? but from what you say he is asymptomatic - ie it does not bother him - there are as far as I am aware quite a lot of people who have AF who are like this in fact many people don't even know they are in AF until this is revealed at a medical or other check up 

    However the main concern with AF is the risk of stroke related to the build up of blood clots and unfortunately some people only find they were in AF after they have had a stroke as they were unaware of this previously 

    As such they will be keen for your husband to be anti coagulated and indeed one of the conditions prior to having a cardioversion is that you have been fully and properly  anticoagulated - usually this will be for a minimum of 4 weeks on a NOAC drug or warfarin and I am currenlty going through this and awaiting a date for my cardioversion-usually you have to take the anticoagulant for at least  4 weeks continously pror to the cardioversion so not sure what is happeneing re the gaps in this?

    Personally speaking I have a number of symptoms in AF  and cant play any sport etc and cant wait get back into normal sinus rhythm and as such have been chasing up a date for the cardioversion asap- - from all I have read  on this and other forums it is regarded as safe -many people have had numerous cardioversions- and is usually successful in restoring to sinus (NSR) in most cases - however this does not necesssarily last that long - am told that 50% revert to AF within a year -and some in minutes or days- variies for everyobody - so it is more of a "fix" and not a long term "cure" for AF  as such 

    Appreciate if your husband is not symptomatic that you may wonder re the cardioversion and you may want to speak to his doctor re the reasons for proposing this in his case ie the pros and cons of this and other options   - if your husband is in persistent  AF  but has no symptoms you may want to review the alternate which would seem to be maybe remaining in AF but keeping him protected re the stroke risk with anti coagulation 

    As far as i am aware aspirin is NOT  an anticoagulant but rather an anti platelet so again you need to check with the doctor re this 

    All the best 

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  • Posted

    I am so sorry that u r going thru this. The only answer I think I have is the doc wants him off blood thinner for 3 days before a hockey game, is because if your husband gets cut and bleeds, it could be dangerous if he is on blood thinners.   The cardio version is usually done if someone is in persistent afib and does not get back into rythym on their own. Bottom line, get all your questions lined up for your meeting with the specialist and get them all answered. learn as much about afib as you possibly can (there are some very good utube sessions about it). Also ask the doc about ablation surgery as a possibility 

    Even though a lot of people who have nt experienced afib think it isn't serious, it is. 

    It's definitely changed my life and I've had to adjust to a 'new' normal. 

    There are many different treatments and meds for afib and he'll probably have to work his way thru several of them to see what is successful. Good luck. 

     

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  • Posted

    Also, the longer your husband has afib, the less is the success rate of future ablation surgery.  I had my ablation to get off all the horrible meds and their negative side affects. Most people chose the ablation to ultimately get off the meds. 

     

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