I have a heart condition called atrial fibrillation. The atria, the two upper chambers of the heart, pump the blood to the two lower chambers or ventricles. According to the American Heart Association, with atrial fibrillation, the atria beat very fast or fibrillate, which could be more accurately described as quivering. Due to the fibrillation, the atria don’t do much actual pumping, so the blood tends to stagnate and therefore tends to clot easier than with a normal heart.
Blood Clots Are Worst Atrial Fibrillation Danger
The atrial fibrillation is not considered very dangerous if blood clots can be prevented. Patients who receive no anti-coagulation therapy have a much higher rate of blood clots and strokes than normal. According to the article, 15% of stroke victims have atrial fibrillation. To reduce the risk of stroke, most doctors prescribe Coumadin, which reduces the clotting danger by thinning the blood. Some patients take aspirin also, which reduces the stickiness of the platelets and lowers their tendency to stick together and form clots. I take Coumadin and a therapeutic aspirin.
Some texts say aspirin and Coumadin should not be taken together, but all my doctors have prescribed both, with no complications. To my layman’s mind it is logical to take both. The reading of my Protime/INR test, which measures the clotting tendency of the blood, is not always in the proper range. Sometimes it is too low, which raises the risk for blood clots. When that happens, I feel that I still have some protection from the anti-coagulation action of the aspirin.
My first Bout of Atrial Fibrillation was Very Frightening
My first encounter with atrial fibrillation was very scary. In 1988, I was taking my blood pressure and the beep, which indicates your pulse, was going crazy. My pulse was very erratic with no regular rhythm whatsoever. My blood pressure was 220 /110. I didn’t know how much of the increased pressure was due to my fear. I imagined that my heart could stop anytime. I went to the doctor and by that time, my blood pressure was some lower.
He prescribed digitalis to stabilize my pulse. I don’t know why he did not admit me to the hospital, as I learned later that it is commonly done with atrial fibrillation.
The next day, my fibrillation stopped, and my blood pressure was normal. Over the next four years, I had bouts of atrial fibrillation with increasing frequency. They would last one to three days and then my pulse returned to normal. Stressful situations seemed to trigger it. Then one day in 1992, it returned and I have had it ever since. I take drugs to control my blood pressure and pulse rate and aspirin and Coumadin to prevent clots.
I Felt a Profound Sense of Relief When My Atrial fibrillation “Locked” In
This seems very strange to says , but I felt a tremendous sense of relief when the atrial fibrillation “locked in” and became permanent. The most frightening aspect had been the fear I experienced every time it returned and the wondering when my heart was going to stop. It has been 18 years since the condition became permanent and, as the doctor would say, my pulse is regularly irregular but still beating.
I understand that now there are drugs to help maintain normal rhythm after using electrical shock to restore the normal rhythm. There is even a surgical procedure to restore the normal rhythm, but neither is recommended for me due to the length of time I have had the problem.
For anti-coagulation, my doctor prescribed only aspirin at first. I knew from reading that Coumadin was the preferred therapy, but I had heard bad stories about Coumadin, so I did not mention it to my doctor. I heard you had to use an electric razor, which I did not like. I heard that with even a small cut, the bleeding would be difficult to stop, and if you had a car wreck, you would bleed to death. Finally, my doctor decided to give me Coumadin also. My fears were unfounded. I still use a safety razor, a Band-Aid stops the bleeding of small cuts, but I have not yet had the car wreck.
I know it is extremely important that I follow dosage instructions for the Coumadin and show up on time to have my blood tested for coagulation time. I do that, because it is very dangerous to do otherwise. After all, Coumadin is warfarin, which is a very effective rat poison.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health care professional. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not the purpose of this article to give medical advice. I am only relating my opinions and experiences and my opinions could be wrong. Any actions you take or do not take as a result of reading this article, you take at your own risk. Always seek advice from a doctor or health care professional before making any health care decisions.
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“Coumadin Therapy Patients: Home-test for Your PT/INR Readings”
“Cushion Grip Denture Adhesive’ Far Surpasses Expectations”
American Heart Association/”Atrial Fibrillation”/American Heart Association