Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Overly Long Story...Stop Reading If You Nod Off!

I had a brief bout with panic attacks around the ages of 19-22. I
did have
palpitations back then but they seemed a lot less
frequent and went away when I was on the
meds. So the Drs. just
chalked it up as anxiety. I took
Xanax for awhile and then turned to
Klonopin which seemed to completely cure my panic disorder. I had
EKGs back then that were completely normal. So I went on living
my "bulletproof" 20's with no more problems.

Fast forward to my 30's...

Several years ago, I started taking a nasty OTC weight loss
stimulant, which had
Ephedra or (Ma Huang). Big NO-NO! I noticed the increased palpitations; especially at night when I would lay down to go to
sleep. I also noticed that any time that I would drink alcohol
excessively, I would get
palpitations from that as well. Still
taking the stimulant with
effedra, I went in to see my family Dr.
and he immediately told me to throw that garbage in the trash! They
did an EKG in his office which showed that I was in
AFib. He then
sent me to my first
Cardiologist appt. and they made me do an echo
stress and
Holter for 48 hours. Heart structure looked great and
Holter produced only a few skipped, premature beats but still in
NSR...I was bulletproof again!

Nearly 4 years passed and I went in to see the family MD again and mentioned in passing, that I was again having
palpitations at night. I also
explained to him that I had developed a Starbucks addiction over the
past few years and had been drinking A LOT of caffeine. Keep in
mind,during this entire 4 year hiatus; I was jogging 3+ miles
regularly,playing full-court basketball in a church
other symptoms other than night
palpitations. No fatigue, trouble
breathing, etc. He said cut back on the caffeine, did another EKG,
yep...back in

So new trip to the
Cardiologist, prescribed me Digoxin, this time
a 14 day monitor, and echo in his office. Heart again looked good
just had a very slight enlarged
left atrium 44cm. but looked normal.
The monitor results however, showed that I was pretty much in
AFib the entire 10 days that I wore it. His thoughts were
to do a TEE and
cardioversion. ..I PANICKED!! What? I have 3 small,
beautiful kids at can't shock my heart! I was also
freaked out because of my age. It's so rare for folks in their 30's, I had heard.

So it was on to the
EP which they too concluded, cardioversion
would be best right now given my age, lack of symptoms, etc. He
prescribed me
Coumadin to get my INR between 2-3.
Also a calcium blocker and high blood pressure medicine which I have
never had
hypertension but he said it was good for rhythm as well
Lisinopril and Cardizem (if I remember correctly) So I went from never taking anything other than my anxiety pills for a brief time to 4 heart drugs now...NOW I WAS REALLY FREAKED

So, I decided to go get the ever-popular, "second opinion". Boy, did I like this Dr. better! She became my local EP and gave me the courage to "nip it in the bud" once and for all....that's what I did!

I then decided that an PVI ablation for my then 34 yr. old, chronic a-fib heart was inevitable.. .I had come to accept it. But, it gave me hope because I saw the daylight at the end of the tunnel! My EP wanted to cardiovert me, but why?? I didn't see the point if I'd just convert again. I knew that I have been in chronics a-fib for at least 1 year at that point. However, I had been relatively asymptomatic, perhaps due to my age? I was currently on only Coumadin (trying to get INR between 2-3) and Digitek then.

My dilemma then became, who??? Who would I get to this procedure? My local EP didn't perform them and she honestly couldn't recommend anyone in Dallas with a long, sustained, successful track record.



  1. Jason,

    Congratulations on starting this site. I look forward to watching it take off. Thanks for the great work you do in supporting young afibbers. I hope I can be an ex-officio member, even though I'm in my fifties.

    Warmest regards,
    Mellanie (from

  2. Jason,

    I think this website will benefit many young afibbers that are confused or afraid of what is going on with their hearts. Thanks to you Jason, Mellanie, and the visit I had with Dr. Natale I have been able to live with less worry and less anxiety.

    Thanks for your support and congratulations
    Jorge Legarreta

  3. Hello Everyone,

    Okay, so I am 23 years old, exceptionally healthy and fit, 6'2'', 186 lbs. This past Friday April 16, 2010, I was jogging on the treadmill like I always do when all of a sudden my heart starts beating out of my chest. I immediately said to myself, "oh no, it's happening again" (harkening back to the time when this occurred two years earlier in another gym while exercising). The fast beating faded fairly quickly, but much to my chagrin, my heart continued to do unusual and highly troubling jumps, twists, turns, and flops. I immediately called 911. They got me to the hospital where the cardiologist told me that my heart was in artial fibrillation. Fortunately, the afib rectified itself in less than 24 hours. I was, however, incredibly scared about this episode--staying in the hospital overnight while my heart was in afib probably didn't help. After the full panoply of tests were done showing absolutely no signs of trouble in the echocardiogram, X-rays, and blood tests, I was promptly released from the hospital and left to my own quivering/fibrillating anxieties (pun fully intended). I asked what to do if this occurred again and the only thing the nurse said was, 'well, you're going to have to come back to the hospital.' Sorry to offend anyone, but can I just say this: WTF!!??? Okay, so I'm just supposed to saunter back into the ER with dying patients and old-folks galore while my heart is in a veritable freak-out session like I'm just heading into the ice cream parlor for a hot fudge Sunday? can do miss Nursey....
    Jason--Thanks for creating this blog, especially since all you hear about is older people with afib (yet again, another statistic that isn't all too comforting:) Anyone, I must ask: will this happen again and if so, what should I do? All the hospital did was give me a blood thinner and wait for my heart to go back to its normal rhythm.
    Hope to hear back from anyone soon,
    Sincerely yours,
    Heart flipper in Cincinnati,

  4. Jason,

    Just curious if you had the ablation? I'm 31, in pretty decent shape, and have had paroxysmal a-fib for almost four years now. I've had four cardioversions (2 in 2010) and tried a variety of medicines (rhythmol currently), all with only temporary success. At this point, I'm starting to think about having an ablation and curious how yours went and where you had it done. Being from TX, I'm sure you looked into Dr. Natale. He did my first cardioversion in Cleveland in March '07 and is likely my top choice. If you still check this blog, please let me know.

    Best regards,

  5. This is great, My name is Danielle and i am 31 years old and thought i was alone. I have decribed the feeling of a painfull adrenalin rush to hundreds of people and all of them said the same thing it was probly anxity and i should destress. I began feeling this when i was a teen and recently espiods are becoming worse. I recently found out i have afib everyday i am scared it will happen i have 4 young children i dont want to leave just yet. It has helped my peace of mind to read your stories and to know it can be fixed with good outcomes. Thanks for starting this blog.

  6. My story was exactly like seans above. I'm 31 year old male. Started with one episode roughly 2 years ago. Progressed into 2-3 attacks a day lasting anywhere from 1 to 20 hours. Took every medication out there ( multaq, Flecainide, beta, calcium blocker). Also magnesium, taurine, potassium nothing was working and this sudden condition was driving me absolutely crazy. On top of afib I was having hundreds of PVC and PAC's (palpitations) per day. Had the ablation February 2011 almost a full year ago. Since the PVI ablation I have not had an episode of AFIB and palpitations are completely gone!!! I mean I have absolutely nothing!! Total cure. Procedure was done by Dr. Edward Gerstenfeld at the University of Pennsylvania. He is one of the top guys in the country and the success of this procedure relies on the skill of the doctor doing the procedure. Find a top doc and travel if you have to.

    Again I decided to comment here to encourage anyone in my situation to get it done ASAP. I was scared leading up to the procedure but it was nothing at all!! The one thing that frustrated me when I was in your position was there was such a lack of info from people with successful procedures. This is because the people who are cured are not looking on AFIB blogs and boards looking for answers anymore.

    To sum it up quit messing with all the anti arythmics and supplements and nip it in the bud. The procedure is nothing at all. If your under 50 this is the way to go. Just wanted to share my success story with all who read this

  7. I am 29 and have had two episodes of afib in the past year. It's very scary. I'm now taking 50mg of flecanide twice a day and a baby aspirin. I feel like a sitting duck wait for my next episode.

  8. Same story, 35 yo with A fib. The nurse told me that A fib = OK, V Fib = DEAD. She actually wrote that down on the hospital room board!!! The only thing that really bother me is this: The average age for people to get this A Fib thing is 77 years old, yes 77 years old, and I am only 35!!
    Anyways, looking forward to hear the rest of your story JM

  9. I am a now 28 year old female that first experienced afib with tachy when I was pregnant at 23. Since that point, I have been having more severe and persistent attacks, two of which required hospitalization, one while I was pregnant with my 3rd child, one between pregnancies, and one I treated at home with flecainide 2 months ago. I am now pregnant with my 4th and per usual, experiencing daily palpitations that are a nuisance. My cardio is researching what I should do/take while pregnant. My family thinks this is serious and won't hear of it that this won't kill me. I am just annoyed, hoping to avoide hospitalizations for conversion, and quite curious about why this starfed in pregnancy and worsens during pregnancy. My thyroid is fine- even when pregnant. Hoping for someone else out there who has experienced this. As you all have had clean echos and no underlying heart disease - I am in the same boat.