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Develops A-Fib After Appendectomy Surgery; Lifestyle Changes and Meds Restore Normal Sinus Rhythm

My A-Fib Story at A-Fib.comby Richard from Florida, April 2020/May 2021

My name is Richard, male, and born in 1945. I am 5′ 9’’, weigh 167 lbs., and am a non-smoker. My exercise is walking about 1.5 miles a day, and I have a healthy diet.

Complications from an Appendectomy Surgery―Develops A-Fib

In April 2018 I was in the hospital for three weeks. I had two surgeries, first an appendectomy and 10 days later correction of a problem caused by the first surgery.

After the second surgery I developed A-Fib, with no prior history of it.

Surgery is a form of trauma, and this shock depletes magnesium and can lead to heart arrhythmias.

The only drug to bring me back to sinus rhythm was Amiodarone. I left the hospital with prescriptions for Amiodarone 100 mg a day and Metoprolol Tartrate 25 mg twice a day.

Amiodarone Damages Thyroid

Everything was under control for several months until I had blood work that revealed my Thyroid was not functioning.

Amiodarone was removed, and Metoprolol Tartrate was increased to 50 mg twice a day.

Everything was fine for a while when I started having irregular heartbeats periodically. Metoprolol Tartrate was increased to 75 mg twice a day.

Life-Style Changes: Reduced stress with L-Theatine & Kava Tea

At that time, I made some life-style changes. I eliminated caffeine and added the supplement L-Theanine 200 mg three times a day.

The purpose of the supplement was to manage my anxiety, which I believe contributed to the problem. I also replaced coffee with Kava tea and Honey Lavender Stress Relief tea, having one of each a day.

I still had an irregular heartbeat periodically.

A-Flutter, Too! Considered an Ablation But…

I had an EKG, and Atrial Flutter was detected.

I was considering an Ablation but wanted to try a different drug that was not in the antiarrhythmic family.

We finally settled on Diltiazem 120 mg daily plus Metoprolol Tartrate 25 mg twice a day.

I was able to manage anxiety without use of antidepressants or other drugs.

Drug Therapy & Supplements Work: Normal Sinus Rhythm Restored

I have now been symptom free for over 7 months. I attribute my success to the Beta Blocker plus Channel Blocker combination and L-Theanine plus Kava tea to reduce anxiety.

A key point is that I was able to manage anxiety without use of antidepressants or other drugs.

Update: May 2021

Since my initial story I had some episodes of an irregular heartbeat. My prescription for Metoprolol Tartrate was increased from 25mg to 50mg twice a day.

Generally everything is fine now, with an occasional irregular heartbeat when under stress. This is usually short lived.

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned about life with A-Fib

When dealing with a medical condition always consider alternative treatments before selecting invasive procedures (such as catheter ablation).

In this situation alternatives include life-style changes, supplements, and prescription drugs.

If the alternative fails you may always revert to the invasive procedure.

Richard from Florida

Editor’s Comments

Editor's Comments about Cecelia's A-Fib storyNew Onset A-Fib After Surgery: Unfortunately, it’s not unusual to develop A-Fib after both cardiac and non-cardiac surgery. In particular, after bypass surgery new onset A-Fib is reported to occur in 12 to 40 percent of patients.
It’s much less common in cases of non-cardiothoracic surgery such as Richard’s appendectomy (2.5%). Something complicated must have happened to operate on Richard a second time. An appendectomy isn’t a walk in the park. The complication rate is about 18%.
Surgeons often give meds like beta blockers, amiodarone or sotalol to patients before cardiac surgery to prevent new onset A-Fib.
Amiodarone Very Toxic: In Richard’s case, he had life-threatening A-Fib in the hospital, and the use of Amiodarone was justified. But as happens in all too many patients, prolonged use of Amiodarone destroyed Richard’s thyroid. If at all possible, you should try not to take Amiodarone. For more, see Amiodarone Effective But Toxic. For more, see Amiodarone: Most Effective and Most Toxic.
Anxiety Relief: Kudos to Richard for discovering the natural way to reduce his anxiety.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea and in certain mushrooms. It’s considered to affect the levels of certain chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine that  influence mood, sleep, and emotion.
Kava Tea (Kava Kava) is a member of the nightshade family of plants, Kava has relaxing and stress-reducing properties and reduces anxiety.
Caution: Kava it has been linked to health concerns. There is some research which indicates that Kava may injure the liver. See LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury.
A-Fib Free with Beta Blockers and Calcium Blockers: Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers like Metoprolol and Diltiazem are designed and intended to be rate control meds to keep the heart from beating too fast while remaining in A-Fib.
For Richard they worked to keep him A-Fib free. Maybe they can work for others as well.

We are grateful to Richard for sharing his experience.

Resource for this article
Ryu, Jae Kean. Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation After Noncardiothoracic Surgery: Is It Different From After Cardiothoracic Surgery? Korean Circ J. 2009 Mar;39(3): 93-94.

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