Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.
Two months ago I wrote in my weekly blog that Ed, my husband, has been diagnosed with atrial fib. Almost 83, he’s been in good health with considerable energy levels and no broken bones except for a broken ankle 25 years ago. He exercises daily and eats a healthy diet.
His A-fib was discovered during a routine physical exam. He was promptly scheduled for tests and appointments with an electrophysiologist at a major heart hospital that services a large area of our state. It’s important when diagnosed with a heart problem that treatment be given by a specialist in a hospital with physicians covering all heart problems.
For example: Ed’s doctor is not just a cardiologist, he’s an electrician, specifically an electrophysiologist who takes care of keeping the heartbeat going and at a regular rhythm. Patients with an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat should be in treatment with an electrophysiologist. Often a heart hospital will suggest and recommend one. Before making the choice, go online and check out the hospital, the doctors and even patient reviews of the doctors in their specialties.
Our heart center has specialists in sleep apnea. Many atrial fib patients suffer from it. This is potentially a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Sleep apnea tests can be diagnosed at a sleep clinic requiring the patient to stay overnight hooked up to a table top monitor with a small mask. Or, it can be taken with a home monitor using a small battery operated case strapped to the chest and attached to plastic tubing going to the nose. Both gather data for breathing patterns. Neither causes sleep deprivation. Ed is going for treatment at our heart center with sleep apnea specialist, Dr. Rami Khayat.
Sleep apnea is more common in men than women and often accompanies heavy snoring. It is prevalent in ages 41-60 and more prevalent for those over 60. It also frequently accompanies obesity. However, Ed is not obese, nor does he snore. My niece, a guest writer for these blogs, had sleep apnea while getting treatment for atrial fib. She lost the excess weight and her sleep apnea went away.
Ed has been scheduled for a heart ablation early next year. He and I are both confident that this will relieve the atrial fib. I had atrial fib starting, as far as I know, in 1980. I lived with it as it got worse for 27 years before I could have an ablation. I haven’t had it since, almost 12 years. Find out all about A-fib in detail by reading my most recent memoir IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, now in paperback, digitally or in audiobook.
And, if you have A-fib, get treatment. Without treatment you could have a stroke.