Ask an expert

15 Jul 2005

Atrial Fibrillation
My mom suffers from atrial fibrilation. The "attacks" are sporadic and seem to be linked to stress. What concerns me is that she has had this for about 2-3 years and has been to 2 cardiologists who say that her heart is healthy and they cannot find anything wrong. They have also tested all related risk factors and she has none. They have both asked her to come in when she has the "attack" so they can monitor it as they have only one ECG showing it. Lately her AF attacks have become more severe and seemingly more regular. She says that she is experiencing chest pain and breathlesness and dizziness. She is on an anticoagulant everyday as well as taking betablockers from time to time. I need some one to give me a solution because even after 2 opinions from 2 specialists I am still uneasy about this and constantly worried.
Answer 415 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Monique,

Atrial Fibrillation ( AF ) can be a most disturbing condition. Your Mom was investigated in the past, and if both cardiologists agree, then there seems little point in seeking yet another opinion. However, her condition, whatever the cause, is now becoming more of a problem for her, so something must be done.

The three important things to attend to in AF are
1. Slow the rate (– she is on beta-blockers )
2. Convert the rhythm back to normal
3. Provide adequate anti-coagulation (– she is on that daily )

Mom needs to discuss with her cardiologist of choice, the various options open to her to convert her rhythm back to normal. There are various ways of doing this : - with certain medication, electrical cardioversion, an ablation procedure with a pacemaker, a surgical option of Pulmonary Vein Isolation. Each of these procedures is best suited to certain kinds of patients/problems, and each of them has disadvantages, risks and side-effects. Also, each of them has a failure rate. So this is a serious matter, and worthy of an in-depth discussion.

Also, please don’t fall into the trap of assuming that just because she has AF, it is the sole possible cause for her symptoms. She may have other underlying heart problems, eg gradually blocking arteries, which were not a problem before, but could now have become significant.

Please talk to your cardiologist about the AF management, and investigating other possible causes for her symptoms. Good luck, and please let me know via this forum how she gets on.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
33% - 9362 votes
67% - 19317 votes