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

Marian has suffered from atrial fibrillation for more than 25 years. “I once visited my general practitioner due to palpitations. After being referred to the cardiologist, I was told that I suffer from atrial fibrillation.” Two years later Marian found out that there was something else going on.

Collapsed at the entrance to the hospital

About two years after the diagnosis, Marian’s heart suddenly started racing. She collapsed at the entrance to the hospital where she used to work and was immediately admitted to the Cardiology department for defibrillation. “From that moment onwards I had to take medication, something that I had never done before. This had a profound effect on me.”

Dose of anticoagulant was not good enough

Initially, Marian had her blood tested every two weeks by the Anticoagulation Clinic, to measure the clotting values of her blood. The dose was determined based on this result. “I managed to do this for two years and then said that I did not want to do this anymore.” Her doctor prescribed a different anticoagulant.

However, Marian suffered a stroke in 2007. “On my way home in the car, I suddenly saw all these pretty colours in the sky. After arriving home, I fed the dog at a much earlier time than normal.” Her husband worked as a paramedic at the time and noticed that something was not right. “My speech sounded increasingly strange and I was unable to move my hands properly.” Her husband contacted the general practitioner, but unfortunately it was too late to prevent permanent damage from developing.

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Stroke turned her world upside down

The stroke completely turned Marian’s world upside down. She is more forgetful, tires more easily and her emotions are shallower. “My personality changed without me even noticing it. To my husband, I am not the same woman he married.” There are few visible signs, which means that those around her do not really notice the changes. “They think it is strange if I do not drink alcohol or want to go home early. My husband then explains the situation and they are usually understanding.”

Marian has since also undergone an ablation but the atrial fibrillation has still not gone away. “Sometimes my heart starts racing as early as four o’clock in the morning and this wakes me up. Every time I have an episode, I worry about a clot forming.”

“I like to receive thorough information from my doctor”

Marian is aware of the need for anticoagulants, but she is also worried about the risks. Nevertheless, she tries not to let this anxiety take over her life. “I know that a lot of progress has been made since then in the field of anticoagulants. There are different types of anticoagulants and it is good to know what the benefits and disadvantages are. I would have liked my doctor to have informed me sooner that there were alternatives available to the anticoagulant that I was taking initially.”

Do you recognise this story or do you still have questions about atrial fibrillation? Please contact your doctor.

“Hopefully that bruise won’t become an internal bleed”

Marian has changed a lot since her stroke, her daughter Susan noticed this too. “My mother feels tired more easily, is forgetful and shows less emotion.” Marian takes blood thinners to reduce the risk of another stroke. This increases the risk of internal bleeding. “My mother recently developed a bruise in her eye. Normally, you might not worry so much about that, but of course now I do worry a lot more. I told her to keep a close eye on the situation and fortunately she also takes it seriously.” Susan’s mother quickly went to see her GP: “The bruise has now disappeared; that does make me feel calmer.”

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