My Cardiologist

I eventually met my cardiologist last week and I confess I was impressed, she was a lovely woman but seemed to have little knowledge of me or the discussions I had had with her nurse before Christmas.

We discussed my medication and she said she thought a cardioversion would be the best thing for me. She briefly explained the procedure and attempted to make an appointment there and then. There seemed no room for manoeuvre for me, I felt as though this was something that had to be done. I asked what the success rate was and she said 62% of AF suffers go back into permanent sinus rhythm, however she didn't say for how long, but did say the procedure could be repeated. She prescribed Amiodarone and said she thought of it as the Domestos of the heart (encouraging)

Today I have received my appointment which is for 24 April. I am not sure that I am going to have this procedure. I have done a little research, not much but I will do more, and some people have woken up from this procedure only to pop straight back into AF again. I am a total whimp when it comes to hospitals etc. I am not willing to do this unless it works. I had to be sedated to go INTO hospital to have my gallbladder removed and they're talking about walking to the theatre, it'll be like the Green Mile for me, I won't be able to do it.

What I need to know from my fellow Afibbers is your advice and opinions. My heart is jumping now, so goodness knows what I'll be like nearer the day. I have been in permanent AF since August last year. I take a cocktail of tablets and the cardiologist admitted its a lottery trying to find what works, if anything. So is this an experiment too?

Any comments regarding success or not please let me know because I need to make an informed decision.

Many thanks


33 Replies

  • HI there JDB. Difficult question. No cardioversion is not a permanent cure for AF but what it does do is prove that you can be reverted so that more informed choices such as ablation could be discussed. It really isn't a nasty procedure and you will be sedated for it. I think you need to decide what you want from life. If you can spend the rest of it trying different drugs with variable results, some of which will be unpleasant, then that is one option. If you really want to try and kick it into touch even for a few years, then the ablation route is the one to take in my view.

    I suggest that you read as much as you can from the fact sheets on the main AF-A website and then have another chat. By the way, the amiodarone is to help with the cardioversion as it is more likely to "take" if the heart is already being controlled by drugs. You would not normally stay on it for very long.

    Hope that helps


  • Thanks Bob, but you were supposed to say 'no don't have it done' I won't sleep for the next few weeks and I know they won't sedate me for this procedure :(

  • They WILL sedate you.

    I'm not sure if you are male or female but try to imagine it like childbirth (without all the pain).

    However worried you are of the event beforehand, remember people are having it done every day, you will be in good hands and there will be an end result to it.

    Hopefully delivering you the much coveted NSR.

    Try only to focus on the end result.

    I would definitely have it done if it were me.


  • Thanks Pat I'm thinking of having a word with the secretary and see if there's anything the cardiologist can prescribe to settle me down. Mind you betablockers, etc, should do the trick lol.

    Thanks for your help Jx

  • By the way Pat I'm female and the mother of 5 healthy sons :0). Childbirth was simple and I had a bonny baby boy to look forward to. With this there are no guarantees. I like to know that once something is done, its done. Guess not with this thing tho :0(

  • Might you consider a higher-natural-fat, controlled carbohydrate diet?

  • Yes I would consider, can you give me more information about this, is there a website I can visit?

    Many thanks

  • You'll be more than sedated - you'll be asleep! Honestly, it's the easiest procedure ever. I doubt very much that you will walk to the theatre as you will have a bed allocated, on which you'll be wheeled in and afterwards, comfortably brought back to normal, with a cup of tea - and ticking away in NSR! Stay positive. My first CV lasted 13 months and the second one will hopefully last as long. That does it for me.

  • I've had a couple both lasting S/N nine and thirteen months respectively. No problems just a bit scary when you're being put to sleep and you have to sign all the forms.

    Whether it's a good procedure in it's own right is questionable but I think they seldom allow you to have other treatments until you've tried this.

    Good luck. See it as part of the passing into the the AF club

  • lol thanks we are an exclusive bunch x

  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  • I've had quite a few cardioversions and although it may be strange to say it, I love them. It's such a joy to wake feeling normal again after months of my heart racing and feeling quite disabled. Mine usually last about 6 months. I was given a general anaesthetic when I had them, apart from two which I had while under sedation during an ablation. If it put my heart back into normal rhythm I honestly think I'd have it done without sedation if that was my only option. At the moment I'm managing to control my tachycardia using Flecainide as a pill in the pocket, so I haven't needed a cardioversion in the last year.

    It has to be your own decision whether you have one as, of course, there is a slight risk. The hospital where I have mine done told me they have never had a problem with anyone. Is your heart, as it is now, making you feel ill?


  • Hi Jean, thank you for the reply. I am terrified of hospitals etc. and always have been. You ask if it makes me ill; well no its the medication that does that. I can feel my heart beating away and not in a good rhythm, I'm aware of it when resting or laying on my left side. I wore a heart monitor for 24 hours and my average bpm was 90. But that was on bisoprolol, candesartan, dilitazem apixaban. I now take the same medication but with amiodarone too. None of them make me feel ill or anything except for the bisoprolol which stops me doing anything! The cardiologist actually halved the dosage from 10mg to 5. She advised that I don't exercise, but I could drink alcohol, which was a bonus. When my heart is being particularly uncooperative, then I feel a bit tired and breathless, but I can't be sure its not the betablockers .

  • Well said, Jean! I love your attitude to these things!

  • II have been cardioverted twice and they definitely sedate you. Once was in an ambulance the other in emergency and both times all I remember is the beginning of the sedation and then waking asking when they were going to do it - it was that simple.

    I'm sorry but I would say you HAVE to do this because your heart is a ticking time bomb the way it is. Would you rather have the procedure and then at least be able to make decision son your options depending on the results or have a stroke in the middle of the night or worse.

    I'd suggest you start researching the drugs you are on.

    I have been on Amiodarone for almost 3 years and recently, as part of being proactive about my health, I started to research it. It's toxic - really toxic - for your body and I do remember when I first went on it the nurse looked at me and told me it was a drastic drug and should only be taken short term. And that was just one of 4 drugs I am on - all of which can have drastic side effects long term.

    Yes these drugs help to keep you going but to do this some insidious side effects take place. Until recently I suspected I must have been extremely low on testosterone because at 53 I felt weak, tired, no energy...until I realised at least 3 out of 4 of those drugs all have these side effects. Its no way to live your life.

    Just because they are prescribed constantly does not mean they are harmless or insignificant.

    Now that I know what it can do to your body I am working my butt off to get as healthy as I can as fast as I can so I get the ablation and get off these terrible drugs.

    Start looking at the side effects of your cocktail of drugs and you'll soon see that having less of them is DEFINITELY a way to have a much better life.

    Believe me when you wake up after the cardioversion you will wonder what all the fuss was about :)

  • JDB - please do not worry about a cardioversion . They really are 'a walk in the park' & nowadays nothing to worry about at all.

    Of course you will be heavily sedated /anaesthetised . It should only last a few minutes & you will be awake & hopefully back in sinus rhythm again.

    I had an unplanned cardioversion last week & this was my 14th ( ! ) over 22 years so I know a bit about them. Mine have always been successful & lasted anything from 4/5 years to 1 week with 1 year being the most common.

    Like Jeanjeannie I look forward to them for the relief they give!

    Best Wishes


  • Thank you but the thought of repeated trips to the hospital fills me with dread. I have actually rung and postponed the appointment and asked for one in May. I also said I would need sedation to get into the hospital. I won't make it in there, my fear is very real I'm afraid.

  • JDB ..I do sympathise if you really are so troubled at the thought of a cardioversion. Maybe you could just meet up with a cardiology nurse first who could allay your fears. What area do you live in? In the early days I did request some form of relaxant before the procedure on a couple of occasions and was given it. I wish I could help you more. Sandra

  • Hi Sandra and thanks again for the reply. I shall be going to the Doncaster Royal Infirmary, I have asked the secretary to put a note on the file to say I need some sort of sedation and shall visit my GP and see if they will write too. You have helped me immensely, thank you x

  • JDB ...if I can help any further you can always message me privately . Sandra

  • 14? does it not damage your heart? I cannot believe you are so brave ..well done. I think if it was done once and it fixed everything, I would be much better about things. But the thought of repeated zappings is just too much..

  • our group ( SurreyASG) had a good talk about cardioversion. If you google us you may find the link as I think the presentation is online now.

    Hope all goes well.

  • Cardioversion? A walk in the park...honestly. Nothing to be afraid of. It is a useful procedure to have in helping medics and you assess your overall AF condition but it is, most certainly, not a cure for AF. Go for it.

  • Thank you, the cardiologist did say there was no definitive cure. Which made my wonder why I got it in the first place. I have two big heavy brothers and they're find. Both lifelong heavy drinkers and one a really heavy smoker. I don't smoke and never drink to excess. Strange how it came to me. I suppose that would be the starting point for any cure.

  • Thank you all, I now realise I will be anaesthetised for the procedure, but I need sedating to get into the actual hospital. As stated I will ask my GP and have already spoken to the secretary about this and she said she'd pass on my concerns to the doctor involved.

  • Six people were cardioverted on my day. One worked, the rest of us didn't.

  • Thank you gateman, this is my concern. I am putting myself through the angst of having this done and it may not work. If it does it may only last a few days. So with no guarantees, am I putting myself through all this for nothing? I am living with my condition quite well. Some days I'm breathless, but this is the drugs I am taking and not the AF.

  • Consultants wouldn't suggest it if it was a total waste of time. After all it costs money.

    DON'T be 100% sure that it is JUST the drugs. I was in persistent AF. About 6 weeks ago I was sure that it was Bisoprolol (only on 5mg) that was causing my lethargy, shortage of breath, headaches, shoulder aches, etc (I did I push myself to have a good walk most days). As my catheter ablation was only a few weeks away it was not realistic to change to another drug at that point. I was also told that the AF ITSELF contributes to these side effects. Typically each month over the last six months was worse than the previous month. My SpO2 level was typically in the range 89% to 95% whereas it should be 97% to 99%.

    I had my catheter ablation on Monday last week and I only lasted less than 72 hours in sinus rhythm and I am now back in persistent AF. However I feel very much LESS lethargic, much LESS heavy headed, have more breath, less aches now (10 days later) than I have had for many, many months.

    In my case the I have moderate to severe regurgitation (leakage) through the Tricuspid valve and mild regurgitation through the mitral valve. It was / is not known how much is due to AF and how much is due to possible valve problems. The fact that there are less rogue signals affecting the heart re the AF may be helping.

  • Definitely go for the cardioversion. You may be luck and last weeks in sinus rhythm!!!

    I was (am) in persistent AF and I was told before I had the cardioversion that it would definitely NOT keep me in sinus rhythm (SR) but it would show two KEY things - that I could be converted to SR and would show whether or not I felt better being in SR. I was also told that this would demonstrate that I was a suitable candidate for Ablations. When I came round from the general anaesthetic I felt 1,000% better than I did beforehand. However, as expected I did not stay in sinus rhythm for long.

    At the end of my Catheter Ablation last week I had a second cardioversion but this time under heavy sedation (because sedation was being used for my CA). I can honestly say that I did not feel a thing and was too far under to even remember them taking out the catheter and moving me from the lab to the recovery room.

  • I am getting the impression that it is your fear of hospitals generally that is holding you back rather than fear of the procedure itself? If so surely your first step would be to do something positive about your phobia? I would suggest hypnotherapy for such a phobia.

    You are going to need to go the hospital for appointments and procedures if you have AF. Putting things off because of your fear is not going to help you, delaying will lessen your chances of a successful outcome.

    The drugs you are taking are a very toxic cocktail, the longer you take the, for the more likely you are to develop complications meaning more hospital visits.

  • Well spotted and you're quite right. Even going past the hospital fills me with dread. My fear I know is irrational, but nevertheless very real. I cannot overcome it. I have tried to analyse it, and there is no foundation as far as I am aware. I will look into hypnotherapy. Thank you for the suggestion. However the procedure does freak me out. The vulnerability, the fact that I will be asleep and people will be doing things to me, is just unbearable to even think about. Thank you again x

  • I am sure both fears will be related. Fear is a physical symptom, when it becomes chronic it is never rational and even if you could work out through analysis what triggered it, I doubt it would help you at all. That is why something like hypnosis which works with the body and relaxation techniques and the unconscious is the way to go.

    Alternatively look up tapping or EFT = emotional freedom techniques through google, it looks weird but it can work miracles. Can be self taught but if I were you I would find a therapist to help you get established and then you can self administer. The only place I know it has been used on the NHS was in Birmingham in a trial, which was a great success, but I don't think it was ever rolled out. It involves using thinking about your fear of ...... And then tapping on certain parts of the head and hands at acupuncture points, it is sort of self administered acupuncture so no one else touches you,

    Very best wishes.... CD x

  • Thank you I shall certainly look into the EFT. I'm the same with strangers touching me. I feel I am being violated each time. I love hugs and cuddles from those I love, but not from strangers especially in a hospital, that's a double whammy!

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