Published 2019-01-27
Changed 2019-02-03

Every time that Ad visited his cardiologist, his symptoms had disappeared. “I became more frustrated with each visit.” Ad was suffering from a fast, irregular heartbeat. His GP referred him to the cardiologist. “The cardiologist could not find any problems, because I didn’t have any symptoms when he performed an ECG. The symptoms had gone by then.” The cardiologist asked Ad to come to him immediately for an ECG the next time he experienced any problems with his heart. He did not have to see his GP first. “I only had to wait to weeks for it to happen again.”

Scary information on the internet

The diagnosis was made almost immediately. “I have atrial fibrillation. I was given medication immediately and leaflets with information to take home.” At that moment, Ad knew very little about atrial fibrillation, the treatment options and medication. “When you experience symptoms or have just received a diagnosis, you search the internet to find more information. You find a lot of scary information.” So, Ad wrote down all the questions he had for the doctor. “I like to be well informed.”

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First, Ad was prescribed a blood thinner for which he had to have blood tests every two weeks to determine the dose. “Fortunately, I switched to different blood thinners after a few years, for which I don’t have to measure anything.” Ad now knows a lot more about this heart rhythm abnormality, but is still not completely informed about the risks of his medication, such as blood thinners. “I know that blood thinners make it more difficult to stop bleeding, but what if the bleeding does not stop at all?”

Nosebleed that would not stop

Ad recently experienced this when he suffered a nosebleed that he could not stop by himself. My youngest son came to take me to the hospital.” Ad has a medication list and an anticoagulant pass in his wallet for situations like this. “If I ever leave home without these documents, I will even go back to collect them. I think that it is important for healthcare providers to know my medical situation if anything happens.”

Making his own decisions about the treatment

Ad suffers from an irregular heart beat almost non-stop. His doctor suggested performing surgery for this. “My heart is not bothering me and I can grow old like this. Why would I undergo surgery?” Ad is glad that his doctor suggested the option, but he wants to make his own decisions about his treatment. Quality of life is paramount to me. The atrial fibrillation is causing very few problems at the moment. That is why I am not interested in the surgery.”

If you recognise this story or have questions about atrial fibrillation, please contact your doctor.

“What can I do in the event of a prolonged bleed?”

The greatest fear for Joke, Ad’s wife, was living in uncertainty. “It took a long time before Ad was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. This uncertainty was very unpleasant.” Ad is now doing well. He has established good contact with the doctor and takes medication, such as blood thinners. “I honestly have no idea what his medication does exactly and what the side effects are.” As a result, Joke is not sure what exactly she needs to do if bleeding occurs. For example, when Ad recently had a prolonged nosebleed. “What can I do in the event of a prolonged bleed?” My first thought was not to panic and dial 112. Fortunately, in the case of the nosebleed, my son came to take Ad to the hospital.”

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