AF. treatment and side effects date. Whether to see cardiologist privately

I am 68. Normally irregular heart beats only ever lasted a day over the years. In March 2015 it did not go away.I was put on Bisoprolol 10mg by A&E worried at my 155 pulse, lots of wierd side effects such as stopping breathing when waking in the mornings, swollen stomach.My Dr 1 said 10mg is high but kept me on it and arranged for me to see cardiologist....( still waiting) would need to monitor effects of medication. 2 weeks later saw Dr2 explaining side effects, he said it takes a while to get use to it and would I like to go on to 20mg Bisoprolol, to which I declined this offer.Had blood pressure test at chemist who said it was low. Saw Dr 3 who tested it again and it was normal.Told him I thought the Bisoprolol may in fact be preventing a return to normality.... pulse still fast at 120.He halved the dose and put me on 5mg.... the stopping breathing problem went.Asked if I would like to go on warfarin to which I agreed, ( though am unsure why they ask?)but not sure if I should before seeing the cardiologist.Also put me on Lanoxin 62.5 micrograms. No real change in pulse rate.Further checks bp low then Ok then low then ok. Probably not me but the equipment.Dr3 doubled Lanoxin.Can't say I have noticed much of an improvement in the AF/pulse rate,and wonder why I bother to take the medication.

Am considering going private if the appointment with NHS cardiologist is still too far off. Am worried if I stay on the stuff too long, whether I will ever get off it? Once having seen a private cardiologist how do you get back in to the NHS to avoid an ongoing expense of check ups or of whatever else is needed.

Any experiences you may have or other information about going private would be appreciated.

22 Replies

  • Very simple. In the first instance you will need to get your GP to refer you to consultant's private practice and afterwards to Consultant's NHS practice. Suggest you get referred to an electrophysiologist (as they deal with the electrics of the heart) and not a general cardiologist. Look at main AFA website for list of names and locations. Originally I went privately and then swapped to nhs due to being made redundant and no longer having insurance.

    I will give more comments tomorrow if others don't beat me to it

  • I went to see an EP privately and looked at the website of the hospital I wanted to go to, checked all the cardiologists for a heart rhythm specialist. Discovered the hospital had a private patient department, rang them and asked for an EP who worked privately and for the NHS. Then booked an appointment.

    I had an initial appointment and tests done privately then moved to his nhs list.

    Hope that helps.


  • Thank you. Once on the NHS list did you move along quite quickly?

  • I was very lucky where I was as the wait once in the system is fairly quick. After my last private EP consultation, the EP took the NHS test request slips round to the MRI and holter monitor departments himself. After waiting a week, I rang the departments myself (cheeky I know) to ask if they had my test request (one department had only one member of staff doing the paperwork and she was off for a week with no one covering her work) I spoke to someone else who found my slip and made the appointment on the phone then and there. I made the other NHS appointment on the phone too. Think I waited 2 weeks, possibly 3.

    If you see an EP privately then are referred for NHS tests, my advice would be to chase it all up yourself after, just in case. Paperwork does go astray or get forgotten (!) and it doesn't always go smoothly.

    When you have your first private consultation you will also need an ECG for your EP to look at which will need to be private too. Think the ECG is around £85 at my hospital. The ruling seems to be that you cannot have NHS and private treatment on the same day.

  • Thank you. That is very helpful and much appreciated.Such a shame the NHS is so well thought of yet what would seem to be straight forward things just cause more problems for us.

  • Thank you. Most helpful.I am already waiting for an appointment with NHS cardiologist. Will call again tomorrow to check they have an electrophysiologist.

  • There shouldn't be any problem. In the last 4 months I have had private consultations with 3 different doctors and will have a 4th and, hopefully, last one on Saturday. My present problem is not AF, as I had that sorted by the NHS and now wear a pacemaker, and the only relevant medication I take is Warfarin. Wonderful! However,

    I have an ulcer on my ankle that refuses to heal and nobody seems to know why nor do they want to take responsibility for it. I have been referred from pillar to post, hence the 4 consultations. It is, apparently, very common for patients to seek out a doctor for a consultation then switch back to the NHS, as most doctors have an NHS clinic anyway. It is simply a way of speeding things up and getting some answers and, therefore, some peace of mind. Just make it clear that you are paying for the consultation only. The NHS is fantastic in the event but the waiting time is horrendous. Good luck.

  • Hi jossikins. I had your problem with the ulcer at the ankle but didn't let it get to the open wound situation as it was on the leg I am going to have a hip replacement. My excellent general hospital (not local) orthopaedic Consultant referrred me to the vascular surgeon. Sonor Scan pinpointed the problem as insufficient blood flow in the long saphenous vein. The vein was easily ablated in day surgery without the need for any sedative. It took an hour but the conversation in the Operating Room was lively and enjoyable. After two weeks of wearing compression stockings the problem was solved. You might have the same problem. Good luck. Anne

  • Thank you Annel. My problem is that nobody seems to be able to agree as to the cause of the ulcers. I had an ultra sound and my veing are apparently OK. I also had an agiogram which showed a blockage to the anterior tibial artery but the vascular surgeon was reluctant to put in a stent because he feared he would make matters worse by interfering with whatever circulation there is. He referred me to orthopaedics, who laughed and asked why they though it could be orthopaedic in nature. He referred me back to vascular who then referred me to rheumatology (to rule out an immune deficiency problem, which it has done) and dermatology who wasn't reall to expect. So, I am now going to Southampton (I live in Canterbury) on Saturday to see a man who is at the top of the vascular field. I am lucky enough to have a friend who married into the medical world and has this man as a personal friend. I had to exhaust all other local possibilites first before I could commit to this logistically crazy move. I can only hope that the answer will be something as straightforward as your procedure. Thanks for your interest.


    P.S. We are looking after our son's young retriever for this long weekend and he has paws the size of dessert plates and energy and enthusiasm unbounding. Every time he leaps at me in a frenzy of adoration I back off hastily lest those great clawed feet of his land in the wrong place! Gosh! What we do for our kids!

  • Hi again Anne. Sorry - part of my earlier reply seems to have disappeared but I am sure you get the bigger picture anyway.


  • I agree wholeheartedly with PeterWh and fallingtopieces. After being treated by a cardiologist for 11 years, I found this forum, read all about seeing an EP, went privately for a consultation end of February 2014, Pacemaker fitted under NHS 30th April, had a follow up appointment privately this year, then had AV Node ablation under NHS on 2nd April. I live in Cornwall and the initial fee was £175, follow up £125, worth every penny.

    Insist on seeing an EP, the sooner the better.

    Best of luck and Angel blessings


  • Thank you very much for sharing your experience which is most useful. God Bless.

  • Hi Di, can you recommend an EP in Cornwall?

  • Hi Carolanne, yes I can. He is called Dr Alistair Slade and he has sorted me out. I paid to see him privately which cost £175.00 and worth every penny, I only waited two weeks to see him. I had my pacemaker fitted by him on 30th April last year on NHS after seeing him on 27th February 2014. I then paid for a follow up appointment this year, £125, and then on the 2nd April I had an AV Node ablation also done on the NHS.

    I cannot praise this man enough, he has given me my life back after 13 years of hell!

    Good luck and don't be put off by any of your Doctors, they are General Practioners and you need an EP to help you.

    Let me know how you get on.

    Hope you have a calm day and Angel Blessings.


  • Thanks Di, really helpful :)

  • Definitely favour private first, then switch to NHS. I may be too cautious but if any medic asks me "if I would like to do something' I suspect there is a significant downside and ask for more information.

    Good Luck.

  • Agree with all of above!

    Even if you see a cardiologist on NHS, unless he is an arrythmia specialist you may not get any further, I didn't.

    As others have said, private consult with the person of YOUR choice I think the best option.

    Never, ever heard of anyone being started on 10mg of Biso before, no wonder you had breathing problems. I couldn't walk upstairs on 2.5mg. I thought it needed to tritrated up and down?

    Hope you get the appropriate help very soon. Am rather appalled at the treatment you have received so far.

  • I had been having palpatations for the last 10 years, my doctor, almost ignored it, but put me on BP tabs. Had funny episodes, taken to hospital, blah blah blah, in December I moved from Hampshire to Essex, whether it was the move or not , who knows but I became very poorly, check up with new doctor, brought to light I had a very irregular heart beat, immediate ECG at surgery, letter for a cardiologist, had an app. through for 3 weeks but symptoms got worse, so, I had inherited some money, so put to good use, app. the next day, immediately on warfarin, and furusimide, poorly heart causes huge amount of fluid to be made, this is what made me so breathless, swollen elephant legs, AF causes blood clots in the upper chambers. which could lead to a stroke, regulated meds, then last Friday I had a cardioversion, which at the time worked, but, he said that because my heart has been over worked for the last who knows when, it will be tired, so slightly disappointed I dont feel fit and well. Everyone says patience, but at 66y, normally very active, I have 7 dogs, I am very depressed. Advice, go and be seen privately it is £200 spent wisely, then go NHS if you cannot afford the following treatment.

  • Thanks so much for your advice. I am exploring the private route tomorrow. I wish you all the good help you need for your problem. Good luck.

  • Hi, I had a 3 month wait to see my cardiologist, so went private to another cardiologist who specialises in heart rhythm disorders ( an electrophysiologist). It was worth the money, he's getting me an echocardiogram, which no other doctor has done and is willing to perform an ablation and/or a pacemaker, if it proves necessary, on the NHS. So, managed to get action. Go for it and good luck!

  • Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • i seen my cardiologist In January and he said that a pacemaker would help my af because I am suffering a lot of dizzy spells due to it went back this month and he has back tracked on his decision ,saying just to stay on the warfarin which is giving me a lot of side effects I am having to take iron tablets 3 times a day because I have been anaemic since my ohs and my platelets are a way low may need a transfusion of them this has been going on for over a year so disappointed with his decision my quality of life is poor at the moment so fed up

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