One episode of afib 6 years ago after taking diet pills for 2 months

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Hi All, 

About 7 years ago I had an episode of a fib that I was treated in hospital for. I was put on a iv and heart return to normal rythem almost immediately.  I then underwent heart tests and they found nothing wrong. In the run up to this episode I had been taking diet pills for about 2 months.  Needless to say I have never taken them again! Just wondering if anyone else has had just a one off episode and how likely it is to happen again ... I’ve lived the past 7 years literally waiting for it to happen again ... I’m particularly anxious when abroad or far from home.  

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  • Posted

    Hi Kate,

    Some people just have one episode of afib and that's that. Others, like myself, have an episode every five or seven years, in my case due to a known trigger.

    Given the fact that you cardioverted naturally, and have been out of afib for seven years now, I think you have every reason to assume that either this was a one off event, or that if you get it again, it will be a very intermittent event as opposed to typical afib episodes that many here get more frequently.

    There's no reason to be anxious, even when traveling. First, even if it happens again, afib is not life threatening as long as you control your rate. Do you remember if you had a fast heart rate when you were hospitalized for afib? If you did, the first thing they probably did was bring your heart rate down with a drug such as cardizem (dilitiazem). 

    Of course, check with your doctor, but you can do the same thing at home (or while traveling) by having dilitiazem with you. Preferably regular dilitiazem and not the time release version.

    My last afib episode was a few months ago. Rather than rushing to the ER over the weekend, I started taking  60mg dilitiazem 4x/day which brought my heart rate down to normal. I also took a blood thinner I had at home called Xerelto. In the words of my doctor, I was now "safe" and could then decide how to proceed, be it electro cardioversion or to just wait it out.

    Some people may suggest something called "pill in the pocket" to you. It's a rate drug called flecainide. Given the fact that you cardioverted naturally last time on only rate drugs (this is an assumption you might want to double check with your doctor) my suggestion is to forget the flecainide and just do the cardizem and then hopefully nature will convert you back like last time.

    Jim

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    • Posted

      My first paragraph was incomplete. It should have continued to read..."And many people have much more frequent episodes."

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  • Posted

    Forgot to ask how old are you and what other cardiac risk factors you have such as high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight, being a smoker, heavy drinker?

    Jim

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your response.  I was 33 at the time and am 40 this November. I have no other health conditions. I now do hiit training 5 times per week and have done for the past 4 years. My resting heart rate is 55 ... I do however feel that I’m always waiting for it to happen again and am very anxious about it.  At the time I arrived at hospital my heart rate was over 200 
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    • Posted

      Of course no more diet pills and whatever might have been in them!  That could have been the trigger. Probably not a bad idea to stay away from stimulants in general such as excessive caffeine or alcohol Given your age and history, again, you may not have another episode at all, and if you do, they may be few and far between. The drug I mentioned Dilitiazem (cardizem) will get your heart rate down without going to the hospital should you have another episode. Ask your doctor to give you an rx and have some around, and take them with you if you go traveling. The only emergency with afib is your heart rate, not being out of rhythm. I had a friend who had a single episode of afib around when you did. He never had another.

      Jim

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  • Posted

    Hey Kate

    You ate something that irritated your vagus nerve.  Extremely common for this to happen. Those diet pills may have made you more susceptible to vagal stimulation.

    99% - plus of all cardiologists do not know what to do with this but they all have heard of it, and that's that.

    It ain't nothin.

    Frank

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    • Posted

      Hi frank,

      Thanks for the reply ... what makes you think I ate something?? To be fair you could be right! 

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    • Posted

      Hi Kate

      You had a one-time-ever episode that probably caused enough of an electrolyte imbalance to result in heart rhythm irregularities. This actually happens a lot to people, most often it seems if they get too drunk in a single sitting.

      Add to that the diet pills you were taking and who knows what your electrolyte situation was like then?  BTW, do you remember if you had any alcohol to drink (and it need not necessarily have to be a lot) prior to when your episode occurred?

      Your situation requires the cross fertilization of 3 medical specialties, cardiology, neurology and gastroenterology, and these 3 don't talk, especially about a case like your's which is a one-timer.

      My suggestion is for you to try to forget about it and stay away from this forum since it could only cause you to be more concerned.

      Frank

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