I have lived with AFib for the past 7 years and have learned how to control it and avoid surgery. I am going to tell you how I do it.
What You Probably Already Know About your AFIB
What you do know is that your heart goes crazy sometimes and there seems to be no way to stop it. You know how it makes you feel when you are having an attack and you know it can be scary.
What else you know is usually what the Doctor has told you and it generally starts something like this: Atrial fibrillation is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Untreated atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of heart-related deaths and is associated with a 5-fold increased risk for stroke.
They may continue with a little explanation of what happens. Example: Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles.
After the scary stuff they will give you, what they consider, the good news. They will tell how it can be managed with Rx drugs and possible surgery.
After all of that you may have done some searching online about AFib. What I found was mostly the same thing I had already been told. Over and over the articles and videos would tell me the same scary stuff.
HOW I CONTROL MY AFIB AND AVOID SURGERY
What Happened First
After four ER visits they finally hospitalized me, ran tests and diagnosed me with AFib. My first couple of years were typical. For the most part, I followed the Doctors directions. I say for the most part because I said no to some things. The first being Ablation Surgery. I felt it was way to early to discuss surgery.
Then came the scripts. A beta blocker (extremely typical.) And a blood thinner (also extremely typical) which I refused for two reasons. #1. because I was well aware of the issues and side effects that come with blood thinners. #2. I was well aware of natural blood thinners thru specific supplements and food. (this is my opinion and my experience)
*At the end of this article you will find list of natural blood thinners
The beta blocker is generally the number one “GO TO” for AFib. I was put on Metoprolol and it did not do a whole lot for the AF but it did knock me on my ass. I went from a very active outdoors person to one who rarely left her recliner. I had no energy and no desire.
After about a year of battling the AFib and the drugs, I was in the ER again. This time with similar symptoms as the AFib but it wasn’t AFib. I had developed LOW blood pressure (hyp-o-tension.) No one could tell me why I suddenly had low BP. But they had a pill for that too. And again, the suggestion to have Ablation surgery.
I then became even more lethargic and depressed than before. The combination of these two drugs were terrible. I am willing to bet that they two of them hate each other.
My Thoughts On Side Effects
I HIGHLY suggest that everyone take a few minutes to look up the side effects of any of their prescription drugs. Don’t rely on the little handout you might have received at your doctor office. It is the VERY short list. I found the website – DRUGS.COM to be very easy to get around in and find all you want to know about any of your prescription drugs.
With a little research I found that low blood pressure was one of the side effect of the beta blocker. Not a shocker. Matter of fact I found quite a few of the issues I was having listed among the side effects of one, and generally both the drugs they had me on.
I asked my Cardiologist if we could discuss dosages and/or another variety of these drugs. He refused. Yes you heard that right. He literally refused to even discuss the topic. I was so distraught I went so far as to send him a letter begging him to do something. No reply and I never went back to him again.
At this point I gave up on any conventional medicine ….
Well, not entirely. I knew I had to have a cardiologist so I went back to the specialist who diagnosed me originally. Even so, I had little more to do with him than routine visits, some blah blah about ablation surgery and out the door.
I had done a lot of homework on AFib, the drugs, their side effects and any other natural alternatives I could add to my self care program. Because I knew now.. it was really up to me to find some relief.
I seemed to end up in the ER an average of once a year. Each time was the push for Ablation Surgery. I had done my homework there as well and it rarely worked the first time, or the second and even the third or fourth. I had made up my mind from the beginning, that it would be a last ditch choice for me.
The last time I was into the ER was nearly 3 years ago
I had been in fib for 10 hours before I went. When I got their they tried the Cardioversion (electrical shock.) They hit me twice but it did not work. I remember praying that it would work but soon after I was thankful that it did not.
Here’s Why……….. Because the shocking did not work they hospitalized me. It was obvious the script drugs I was on were not working. It only took a few years and several ER visits for them to figure that out. Right away my Cardiologist wanted to start me on another beta blocker. I was having none of it.
BLESS the Doctor working the Cardio unit in the hospital. I told him I would not go back on a beta blocker and he told me he was glad to hear it because he had a different idea.
They started me on a Calcium Channel Blocker and an anti-arrhythmia drug. The first thing that happened was the low blood pressure went away.
This has worked for me. The cc blocker is far more agreeable to my body than the beta blocker. The aa drug is something I only take when needed. I have not been back to the ER in more closing in on 3 years. An occasional flair up has been quickly brought under control with a few methods I have learned to use and if they do not work, a small dose of the anti-arrhythmia drug does the trick.
Self Terminating an AFib Attack
The following methods have stopped my attacks.
Cold water in your face
When none of those work the Valsalva Maneuver always works. And the Modified Valsalva Maneuver works even better.
Like all script drugs, these also have their own side effects. Both of my new drugs also have the weight gain issue. In spite of a healthy, clean diet and the fact that I am back to getting some exercise, the excess weight sticks with me. Thankfully it did peak out and stop at a certain point.
Worse yet is all of these drugs I have been on are similar in that they cause bone and joint deterioration. Needless to say – I and many others deal with this issue largely due to many of the prescription drugs we are on. I do get tired of hearing how age gets the biggest blame for this issue.
We must remember that everyone is different. You can take the long list of side effects and find which ones you have. I can take the same list and find which ones I have. They will not always be the same. The same goes for the drugs themselves. I know people who say they do fine on their beta blocker. But I know more people who have told me the beta blocker causes them much the same side effects as I had — tired, lethargic, with a lack of energy and still having Afib.
Having the right prescriptions is not the whole answer because even with the right drugs we may still have problems if we don’t make some lifestyle changes. We have to do everything we can to help our body and our heart. There is no lack of information regarding a heart healthy diet. There is also plenty of articles regarding exercise for a healthy heart.
-Find a Cardiologist willing to work with you
-Eat a heart healthy diet.
-Get the right kind of exercise.
-Take supplements to enhance your heart health.
-Learn to manage your stress
-Get some quality sleep
-Find your self terminating solutions
If you can do these things you may see less AFib episodes and avoid surgery.
I would also suggest adding a Naturopathic Doctor to your medical team. And check out The Drs. Wolfson on youtube
As an Affiliate I may earn a small fee from qualifying purchases of some of the links you might click and purchase – at no additional cost to you.
Following are a few natural blood thinners via food and/or supplements
Vitamin E and C
I use all of that are pictured above.
If you want to know how these and others work as a blood thinner check out this article by Emma Walker.
Other important supplements that I use to improve my heart health are CoQ10, Vitamin D and lots of magnesium. I like the blend in Triple Calm as to much Magnesium Citrate can cause us to run to the bathroom more than we should be.
I hope this has been of some help to you and feel free to reach out in the comment section. I always like to hear from others with AFib. Let me know what’s working for you?
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Linda Carlson is a certified Nutrition and Wellness Counselor with 25 years background (retired)
The information in the above article is the opinion and/or experience of the author. It is for educational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before beginning any alternative treatment program. We make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied.
Linda S. Carlson copyright 2021. All rights reserved. No portion may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.