Published 2019-01-27
Changed 2019-01-28

“I have some bad bruising. From my groin to the inside of my legs.” Karin has just undergone an ablation, a type of surgery to manage her symptoms of atrial fibrillation. “I was really suffering from the fact that my heart would start racing. My doctor told me that the ablation could solve these problems. Of course, that is not a guarantee, but there is a chance.” But Karin was not informed properly about the risks of the treatment, such as internal bleeding. And that was not the first time.

Risk of falling

Karin like to be active. Walking, cycling, dancing. Her active lifestyle is associated with certain risks. “Since I started suffering from atrial fibrillation, I have dizzy spells and fall more easily.” This happened to Karin recently. She fell on a pavement, hitting the back of her head. “I had a large swelling on my head, but did not feel dizzy. I decided not to call my GP immediately. After all, it was Friday and the weekend was about to begin. I thought it wasn’t that bad.”

Increased risk of internal bleeding

Over the course of the weekend, Karin became nauseous and suffered dizzy spells. She started to worry. On Monday, she decided to call the GP after all. “My doctor told me that I should have gone straight to A&E on Friday. As I am taking anticoagulants, I have a higher risk of internal bleeding. If I had known that I would definitely have called sooner! Why don’t they mention this sooner?”

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Obtaining better information

Karin initially knew very little about the risks associated with an ablation and the use of blood thinners – and that there are several types available. “My doctor did not explain to me why he was prescribing this type of medicine specifically. And – to be honest – I didn’t give it much thought during the consultation.” Now Karin writes her questions down before an appointment and she can also ask her doctor questions by telephone. “I have learned not to let the information wash over me. If the decision made by my doctor does not feel right, then I will say so. Good information calms me down.”

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“What can I do if she falls?”

“My mother is very worried  alt=and uncertain about her health. Her doctor struggles to reassure her.” Marianne, Karin’s daughter, notices that her mother finds it difficult to adjust her lifestyle to her situation. “Sometimes I do feel angry towards my mother. She wants to do everything at once and quickly too. She can no longer do this.” She is aware of the fact that her mother can suffer bruising more easily now that she is taking blood thinners and that she has a risk of prolonged bleeding. As Marianne lives 45 minutes away from her mother, she cannot get to her quickly to help her. “I do worry about that sometimes. What can I do if she falls? I hope that there are people near her who can help her in an emergency situation.”

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