Log in
AF Association
14,936 members17,897 posts

total withdrawal from antiarrhythmic drugs

what would one expect might happen if they were to abruptly stop antiarrhythmic medication...5 mg bisoprolol daily and 0.25 mg digoxin but maintain the anticoagulant medication? I would like to know if any of you have experienced this or know what the expected withdrawal symptoms might be? Thank you.

26 Replies
oldestnewest

Neither are what we regard as anti arrhythmic drugs. Since both just slow the heart you may find your fast heart symptoms return. You should NOT do anything without the approval of your medical team.

3 likes
Reply

Hi,

I was initially on 2.5 mg bisoprolol after seeing Cardiologist. After 3 weeks I struggled to walk uphill so went to see my GP.

He told me to stop taking it immediately.

At that time I new very little about AF and medication.

It was either that night or the next when I had very severe pains in my chest - we were away for Christmas and I remember sitting up all night- so if it got worse I could get help.

I would recommend you see your GP and make sure you reduce the dose gradually.

Just wondering why you want to stop taking them.

Take care.

Reply

Hi Marion62

Thank you for your response. I initially started having afib 12 years ago. I had an ablation within 9 months of the onset of the afib and was fine for 5 years...then it came creeping back and now 7 years later I have been on every possible drug the cardiologist could use for my condition...the afib just keeps getting worse and he has increased the dosage so much that it makes me ill all the time...when he saw me in September and put me on amiodarone he said it was our last option and I must take it...even if it made me ill, to just push through it...well, it made me so ill that I didn't sleep at all for 6 nights...just had to pace the floors all night...couldn't rest my body...also gave me a terrible rash that was incredibly itchy...even got the Lupus butterfly rash on my face....oh and yes, a headache from hell....after 8 days I phoned and let him know what was going on and he told me to stop the drug...he saw me a few weeks later and put me on digoxin along with the bisoprolol I was already taking and have been for 7 years but he upped the dosage to 10 mg. a day and I am just feeling to sick from these drugs and the digoxin is making me very depressed. I have quite a small frame and weigh 98 lbs on a good day and I think it is hard for him to find an adequate dosage to control the afib - tachycardia and one that my system could handle without being well and barely able to do much of anything. He has scheduled me for another ablation as I said but the wait list is 10 months. I am just so fed up with all this I stopped my medication a couple of days ago and am just wondering what the effects might be as my heart was in afib - tachy so much that I was I was having to go to emerge several times since the spring and be converted and then just going back into it a couple hours after returning home... I thought what's the difference, I might as well be have heart probs without meds as with meds it really wasn't helping me....my heart would reach 250 - 300 and I am just sick and tired of the whole deal. Thanks for letting me vent. I wish you well.

1 like
Reply

I do so feel for you. We all have this wretched condition in so many different ways and with so many different triggers. I gave up drinking red wine and then had a horrendous attack, so I thought blow that. Now I do have a glass of red wine, but only one, if I want another I have a small white. Have you tried Sotalol? I have taken it for many years now. I also have recently started taking Magnesium citrate. Have had 5 ablations and no luck. Next would be a pacemaker which I want to avoid as it is not a cure. Best of luck

1 like
Reply

Yes, thank you Melleray, I have been on Sotalol.

Reply

Having just read your reply to Marion I can understand your wish to stop the drugs. I don't think this would be wise. Can you contact your cardio and let him know what you would like to do? I have in the past been on digoxin but only for short periods as it just made me worse..and I vowed never to take it again Bisoprolol is practically useless as well.

I take the anti arrhythmic drug Disopyramide as nothing else has much effect . Have you tried this ? Also for the past two weeks I have been taking Magnesium Taurate and for the first time for 7/8 months I've been free of tachycardia which was plagueing me for hours at a time several times a week. Certainly worth trying but do ask pharmacist or GP first in case there are any contraindications for you.

Best wishes

Sandra

Reply

Hi Yatsura...I take magnesium daily. as for heart medications I have been on digoxin, diltiazem, flecainide, sotolol, bisoprolol, metropolol, propafenone, amiordarone and perhaps a few I have forgotten over the years...this is why I am so tired of it all and especially that they make me feel unwell and limit my life incredibly but also I am still suffering from the symptoms for which I am supposed to be being treated...my feeling at this point is why take them and maybe just hang in there until the ablation...probably doesn't make sense to most but after being on drugs for all these years and only getting worse I just don't see the point anymore.

1 like
Reply

Understand your feelings but really need medical advice

Reply

I’m the same as Marion. My heart slowed so much I was taken off it immediately. My heart speeded up again I am very glad to say. But it was completely the wrong drug for me which was confirmed by my EP. So different circumstances I guess.

Reply

hi Koll, my heart rate at rest is around 50 sometimes lower but it is not at rest very often and when afib-tach raises its' ugly head as you can see by my posts it can get crazy...Once I was admitted to hospital with heart rate at 328 bpm....this concerns me that I will go into or might be in heart failure as this has been going on pretty steadily for most of 2017.....many times I would be in afib-tach for days - weeks on end...unable to do very much and this summer was utterly abysmal.

Reply

Yes quite different from me. I have a high heart rate as a norm, it’s usually around 90-100. When I was put on Bisoprolol my HR went down to 35. I felt like I was dying to be honest.

1 like
Reply

You definitely need to speak either to your GP or Cardiologist.

Tell them how you feel about the drugs and explain what's been happening with regard to your AF. It could be that like me, you do have heart failure but I've come to the conclusion that's not the be all and end all. At 75 I've got too much to do with my life before I depart so I'm learning to live with it taking each day as it comes . There's good and bad days.

Hopefully your Drs can come up with drugs that will help and perhaps give you a definitive diagnosis. i look forward to hearing how you get on

2 likes
Reply

Stopping those drugs won't stop your AF. The digoxin is to slow your heart rate. If your rate goes up dramatically you may find your heart can't cope properly and fluid could build up causing pulmonary oedema and severe breathlessness. Please see your GP or cardiologist before stopping your medication. They are the ones who can advise you properly.

Good luck

2 likes
Reply

you are absolutely correct Dancingmaid and my reason for so doing is that these drugs are not keeping me in sinus rhythm and I am having all these problems with very little relief from the medications...it is like I have gone into permanent afib-tach. My point being if the medication is not doing what it should be doing and is making me feel so ill as well, then what is the sense in continuing with it.

Reply

Repeat what you have said in your last sentence to your EP and see if he can tell you why...or not

1 like
Reply

That I will Barb1 but I don't see my cardiologist until February. He has soooo many patients and is sooooo busy that trying to see this man before your scheduled appointment date is extremely difficult if not impossible. He is a good man and a good doctor and I do think he has done the best to his ability but just can't seem to get this under control and truly, not for a lack of trying. Thank you for your reply.

Reply

In fact you should be seeing an Electrophysiologist. Maybe you might get an emergency referral before Christmas.

Reply

Barb1, I live in Ontario, Canada and getting an emergency referral to an electrophysiologist is unheard of...there is a huge wait list and that is just the way it is. Are you in Ontario and familiar with OHIP...our provincial health plan? Long wait times for most procedures except absolute emergencies like appendicitis etc.

Reply

No. I have no idea how it works in Ontario. But I am an education consultant in the UK and I know how to access help in that field for those who have been denied it. Sometimes it is knowing exactly who to contact, sometimes exaggerating symptoms to jump the queue. What you have to be is your own Project Manager. Saying that, I do appreciate that taking on the health system when you are feeling so down and vulnerable can be impossible. All I can say is question, don't accept blindly. Good luck.

1 like
Reply

Barb1, I have not been denied access to medical help....there are just too many people needing treatments and wait times are incredibly long...obviously my condition in the opinion of my cardiologist is not urgent and with ablations there is just so many needing this procedure that the wait time can be staggering.

Reply

Your symptoms, both from AFib and the various medications, sound horrendous and I am not in the least surprised that you are depressed and I really feel for you. Is your GP really aware of how bad things are for you? And your EP? I really thought hard about replying to your post because I can't really offer any practical advice. However, I wanted you to know that I (and many more on here) truly sympathise, so come back and vent all you want!

2 likes
Reply

Thank you Irene, that is very kind. Have a great day.

Reply

Hi bisop,

Sorry to read about all your problems - you vent away as much as you like - that's what we are here for.

I never got on with bisoprolol - even on the lowest dose of 1.25mg which they put me back on. After 4 months I phoned the Cardio's secretary who asked me to e-mail her with my problems - and the Cardio phoned me and changed me to Diltiazem - a calcium channel blocker. Much better for me for rate control. That's all I take plus Apixaban. I too was on Digoxin for a while but they took me off it when I started seeing turquoise blue spots on white objects and walls and increased my Diltiazem dose.

I would go back to your GP, discuss your medication and ask for the opinion of another cardiologist /EP - quality of life is important . I know what lack of sleep is like.

I am fortunate that I am mostly asymptomatic at present - 5 years since diagnosis - but know that this could change at any time.

Take care and best wishes .

Marion

Reply

Thank you Marion and I wish you all the best.

Reply

All medications must be processed by the body, and this uses up both vitamins and minerals, so we easily become short of them. Then our bodies cannot process the medications properly, or carry out other processes satisfactorily which are essential, so our bodies don't work so well. I would suggest that it sounds as though your liver is struggling to get rid of all the toxins all these medications have introduced. With your doctor's agreement, I suggest you buy a good multi-vitamin-and-mineral from a health food store, and take it for at least three months.

You say you are taking magnesium, but what kind? Magnesium oxide is very difficult for our bodies to absorb. Magnesium taurate, as mentioned above, seems to be one of the best kinds for hearts. It might be worth trying that one for three months, to see if it makes a difference. Also magnesium can cause diarrhea, but then we lose not just magnesium, but other essential electrolytes which our hearts need, as well, eg potassium, chloride, sodium etc. So it is essential to make sure this is not happening regularly. Again, magnesium taurate is less likely to have this effect. Start with a low dose of which ever kind you use, and build up slowly, to avoid these negative consequences.

I notice that you are vegan, which is great in many ways, but there are some substances which your body may be short of as a result. One of these is L-Carnitine, which is best obtained from meat or dairy products. I ate less meat for a long time, and felt much better when I started taking this. It is also excellent for hearts (but check with your doctor that it is OK for you.) You can also try 'CoQ10' but, as always, check, and start with a low dose daily, then build up if you want to try more.

However I have the impression that anything containing ginseng or liquorice is probably best avoided by those of us with heart problems, but hawthorne is reputed to be good, pehaps taken as a tea.

In other words, I suggest you look at ways of making sure that you are not lacking any essential nutrient, and then your body should gradually start putting itself right, the symptoms themselves may decrease in seriousness, and you may find you can tolerate the drugs you do take much better.

Hope this helps!

Reply

Thank you for your reply Polski. Excellent information here. I wish you a pleasant evening.

Reply

You may also like...