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Shocking the heart revives normal beats

Last Updated: October 05. 2011 1:00AM Dr.Paul Donohue: to Your Health DrPaulDonohue Shocking the heart revives normal beats

Dear Dr. Donohue: Recently you discussed atrial fibrillation. As you can see from the attached information, my husband has had many medical problems. in the early months of this year, he developed atrial fibrillation. A cardioversion was performed and worked for about five minutes. then his doctor prescribed amiodarone. Since being on amiodarone, he has felt much worse. Could the medicine be the problem? he only sits around, and doesn’t even feel like going out for lunch. another cardioversion is possible in a couple of weeks. is there any danger to this procedure?


Dear M.C.: Does his doctor know how he feels? he can prescribe many other options for your husband.

Atrial fibrillation is an erratic and fast heartbeat. Cardioversion, an electric shock delivered to the fibrillating heart, has a fairly high success rate of restoring a normal beat. Success depends on how long the fibrillation has been present and how large the person’s heart is. the sooner from the onset of fibrillation, the better are the results for cardioversion. the results for longstanding atrial fibrillation are not as good.

Fibrillation can recur after cardioversion and recur after taking medicines, too. Danger exists for every single medical procedure. the complications from cardioversion are few and rare.

The booklet on heartbeat irregularities explains the common kinds of rhythm disturbances. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — no. 107, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

Dear Dr. Donohue: I am an 87-year-old lady who has had atrial fibrillation since 2003. my cardiologists ordered beta blockers. unfortunately, I was allergic to all they tried. Amiodarone made me break out in hives on the hands, arms and chest. I went to a doctor who specializes in natural remedies. he suggested I try hawthorn. This resulted in fewer episodes of fibrillation. I also stumbled onto a way to stop an attack of it. it is to immerse your face in a bowl of ice water. it works beautifully. why don’t doctors share this simple procedure with patients?


Dear J.M.: you have paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, an erratic heartbeat that comes on episodically and goes away on its own. in the best of all worlds, if attacks are frequent or prolonged, it’s wiser to prevent them with medicines rather than to abort them with maneuvers like immersing the face in ice water. That’s an old treatment. If you have gotten an OK from your heart doctor, then I will mind my own business.

Write to Dr. Donohue at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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Shocking the heart revives normal beats

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