Atrial fibrillation

Hi,

I am a 44 year-old women and I have had a dual chamber pacemaker for almost 3 years to treat my 3rd degree heart block.   I just went in for a device check and it was discovered that I now have Afib.  I have an appointment with my EP cardiologist in a few days to talk about everything.   Has anyone else developed Afib after getting a pacemaker?  This is my 3rd diagnosed electrical heart issue and feeling a little frustrated.  I feel like I get one thing "fixed" and then another pops up.  Thanks for any insights!  

Meredith


3 Comments

Whack-a-Mole

by AgentX86 - 2020-08-03 14:47:33

Sure, a lot of us are in that situation, perhaps in a different order. Mine was Afib first, then CABG/LAA clip/Maze, which caused permanent Aflutter,  then the regimen of drugs, three left atrial ablations for atypical Aflutter (three big fails), more drugs, SSS, and a pacemaker, with an AV ablation to FINALLY bury the Aflutter. I'm all better now ;-).

Really,  I haven't felt better in years, if ever. Hang in there. Afib is a PITA, but as long as you take care of it (keep your heart rate down and take anticoagulants RELIGIOUSLY), it's not dangerous.

Symptomatic Afib can make you feel horrible but there are things that can be done if it does. Asymptomatic Afib is just treated with rate control drugs and anticoagulants and you go on with your life. Many never know they have it until they stroke out. Take those anticoagulants!

Afib and you

by Theknotguy - 2020-08-03 15:11:42

Meredith:

The pacemaker, in and of itself, doesn't cause afib.  Problem lies with your genetics and your heart issues.  I had afib for years but it went undiagnosed because no one was around to see it when it happened and when I talked to doctors they said it was heart palpitations.  But there is a strong genetic link in the male side of my family going from great-grandfather, grandfather, dad, and finally me.  Not to mention other male members of my family.  

The good thing is your pacemaker caught it early and now you can do mitigating things to help yourself.  My EP knew I had afib and suggested, in addition to my heart meds, to take over-the-counter magnesium supplements.  You may want to ask your cardiologist/EP and see if they have any objections.  It's not a cure all but it did help reduce the number of afib sessions I have.  But check with your doctor first.  

Afib, once it starts, tends to get worse over time.  My EP said the more the heart goes into afib the more the tendency is to go that way.  If you can reduce the frequency and intensity of afib you'll feel a lot better in the long run.  Only "cure" for afib is ablation.  Either chemical (heart drugs) or mechanical (ablation). Mechanical ablation has gotten a lot better in the past ten years.  But, even then, it's not a cure all.  Some people can get an ablation and never have another session of afib.  Others can have afib start up again.  It just depends upon your genetics.  

Since afib can happen at any time you have to stay on a blood thinner for the rest of your life.  But you're already on one because of your pacemaker so no  change there.  

You can live a full life and be in afib.  I'm in afib about 40% of the time but it usually lasts a few seconds to a few minutes at a time.  Although I've had afib sessions last for several days.  Most of the time I don't know I'm in afib.  

I have one of the Medtronic's pacemaker that has programs for afib.  I have two programs running.  One works about 10% of the time, the other 80% of the time.  Afib control through the pacemakers is not highly recommended as it just treats the symptoms and it doesn't cure the afib.  So if you don't have a Medtronic pacemaker or the right model the afib programs aren't available to you.  Even if you do your EP may not be in favor of running the programs either.  I do get along fine with my programs and don't know what they'll do when I have to have my unit replaced.  

Big thing to remember is you can lead a "normal" life even though you have afib.  I lead an otherwise "normal" life although climbing Mt. Everest is definitely out of the picture.  Getting a private pilot's license is out of the picture but that's because of the FAA restrictions and not my condition.  

Even though AgentX86 says afib is a pita, I haven't found that to be the case.  When untreated it can be and I had bad sessions.  Now that it's being treated along with my pacemaker I just, like the pacemaker, know it's there.  But otherwise I go along with my life.  And I hope it's the same for you.  

Hope this helps.  Hope your adjustment to your pacemaker goes well.  
 

Afib

by bobrichards55 - 2020-09-06 16:12:40

My first question would be are you constantly in afib or just having some occurances?  The device records everything and I think many people will have some short bursts of afib or flutter.  From what I have read, it depends on how often and how long these episodes last to determine if you need treatment such as an ablation or need to be on anticoagulants. There are some studies going on to study subclinical paroxysmal afib; ie. device detected episodes with no symptoms that go away on their own.  The answer does not appear to be straight forward.

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