“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?”
Do you know when to ask for medical help for a person who is taking blood thinners?
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.”
Do you recognise this story or do you still have questions about atrial fibrillation? Please contact your doctor.