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I decided to retire Dec 2020 at age 75 but my life of leisure was abruptly interrupted by a stroke 2 weeks later. Hospital discovered that unknown to me I had been experiencing a series of mini strokes. A loop recorder was inserted in my chest to monitor the permanent A-Fib that I had been dealing with for some years previous. After a short stay in hospital with therapy I went home to pick up on where I had left off preparing for a caravanning holiday with wife but again was interrupted by my right eye closing up and involuntary right arm movement. Diagnosis was Ocular Myasthenia Gravis resulting in horrific cocktail of medication./ Gradually my strength was deteriorating and when I had trouble walking in to have a lung function test I was sent to emergency and scheduled for heart surgery. This was done in March 2022 where the Mitral valve was found to be not repairable and a pig valve was fitted. The surgeon in his wisdom also removed a bad Thymus Gland and repaired a small hole in my heart. However after all this and 2 failed Cardio Versions I have now Had a pacemaker fitted May 26, 2023 and loop recorder removed. My specialist has suggested that surgical ablation may be required in the future. I consider that I have had a "in-Chassis rebuild" and hoping for stress free times ahead but I am still concerned with breathlessness and would be interested in any experiences that members may have. Am I being impatient? because with any exertion I am out of breath and quite fatigued.



by Gemita - 2023-06-04 04:22:14

SanMarco, firstly welcome.  

Both my husband and I suffer from AF and know the devastating effects AF can cause, especially the stroke risk without the protection of an anticoagulant.  The problem with AF is that we don’t always know that we are suffering from it until we experience a stroke which is why it can be so dangerous.

I am sorry about all your difficulties following retirement, a time that we should all be able to look forward to and to enjoy.  It sounds as though you may have more going on than just AF, although AF can most definitely be the cause of fatigue and breathlessness.  It clearly is for me, especially if my heart rate is not controlled during an episode.  Fortunately my heart rate is well controlled now, so I am less symptomatic but even slower episodes of “irregular” AF can cause lingering fatigue and some breathlessness.

It sounds as though your doctors may be recommending an AV Node ablation where they prevent the chaotic signals and any high heart rates from the AF in the atria from getting through the AV Node to affect your ventricles, potentially driving them too fast?  It is a last resort procedure if this is what is being recommended and would make you pacemaker dependent, but it can be a good solution for some of us with AF that cannot be controlled by any other means.   Have you had any other ablations, like a pulmonary vein isolation ablation?  I note cardio versions were unsuccessful.

No I don’t think you are being impatient to see improvements, but it might take a few months for you to heal and to get used to pacing and for your settings to be finely tuned to help to relieve some of your symptoms.  In your shoes, I would probably give myself a few months to heal before deciding on any other treatment like an ablation but be guided by your doctors and your symptoms.

The pacemaker will protect you from a slow heart rate, so your doctors can increase dosage of any rate lowering meds you take, to try to control your AF better without the risk of lowering your heart rate to dangerously low levels.  All this might just help without the need for an ablation.  If these measures don’t bring relief, then your doctor will probably recommend an ?AV Node ablation.  I may still proceed to an AV Node ablation in the future since it would prevent my intermittent fast heart rates and irregularity of rhythm which I cannot tolerate, from getting through the AV Node to affect my ventricles, so I should feel much better with a steady, paced rhythm.  Many patients are even able to come off some of their meds which is an added bonus.

I send you my very best wishes for a happy and healthy retirement and hope that given time, the pacemaker will make a difference to your quality of life.


by Lavender - 2023-06-05 09:04:39

Your journey has been a stunning challenge for sure!  Gosh this is not the retirement you planned! Sorry for all these unhappy surprises!!

I believe you will feel better in time as you recover. You're still new to the game and your heart should settle down in months to come-not days.  Be patient and remember that how you feel is not how you will always feel! Better days ahead!!

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Try to concentrate on how you’re able to be active again and feel normal, rather than on having a machine stuck in your body.