Treating AFib Brings Back Patient's Energy

November 17, 2022

Bob C. says he feels 10 years younger. He’s back outside tending to his yard without the frequent breaks he once needed.

Less than a year ago, he often felt rundown and worn out. At 78 years old, Bob thought he was simply working too hard.

AFib patient Bob chose to undergo ablation treatment for his AFib.

“I had to sit and rest all the time,” Bob said. “I kept coming up with excuses. My heart would beat so hard, it felt like someone was kicking the back of the couch. My heart would just race.”

Bob said his heartbeat would get erratic and race. He put up with it until he saw something on TV.

“They listed the symptoms for atrial fibrillation, and I had four of the symptoms,” Bob said.

That’s when he decided to head to the doctor to get it checked out. He ended up in the office of Dr. Eric Shulman, a cardiac electrophysiologist with Mercy Clinic Heart and Vascular Electrophysiology – 10012 Kennerly Suite 202. Following testing, Dr. Shulman confirmed what Bob suspected – his fluttering sensation was atrial fibrillation, or AFib.

“I see a lot of patients just like Bob,” Dr. Shulman said. “They feel like they’re in it by themselves. But really, it’s one of the most common cardiac arrythmias with millions of Americans suffering from it. And there is plenty of help available.”

AFib can strike young adults, but it primarily affects middle to older age adults.

In addition to an irregular heartbeat and rapid, fluttering or pounding of the heart, symptoms include lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain.

 “Many patients notice the symptoms but don’t realize it could be AFib,” Dr. Shulman explained.

Dr. Eric Shulman Dr. Eric Shulman is a cardiac electrophysiologist who treats heart conditions include AFib.

The major risk of AFib is that it can cause a stroke. Because of that, the first treatment is often a blood thinner to reduce stroke risk. There also are other options, including procedures for patients who cannot take blood thinners. The other component of atrial fibrillation is managing symptoms.

“We take individualized approaches for treatment. I ask my patients, ‘How can we get you to live your fullest life with atrial fibrillation?’” Dr. Shulman said. “We may choose medications as the right option for some, while for others a procedure like a cardioversion or catheter ablation may be what’s best.”

The overall treatment plan will vary for each patient, taking into account the risks compared to the benefits.

For Bob, the option of taking medications was not appealing, especially with possible side effects, “I just didn’t think that’s the right choice for me.”

Because he was in good physical condition, he felt the catheter ablation procedure was the way to go. The results have him up, working in his yard and doing other physical activities he wants to do.

“I can’t tell you how unbelievable the improvement is,” Bob said. “If I had to do it all over again, I would.”