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Walter Kerwin, MD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA

A-Fib Patient Story #70

Meds are Working: By Losing Weight, Reducing Stress and Increasing Exercise

By Alvin Drelich, 2012. Delray Beach, FL

One day in August, 2008, I decided to check my blood pressure (BP) for no reason. I was feeling fine. But my BP and pulse were flying high which frightened me somewhat. I kept my cool and dialed 911. When I got to the ER, I was diagnosed with A-Fib, put on an IV Cardizem drip and admitted to the hospital. Early the next morning. I converted to a normal rhythm.


My doctor came by that morning and loaded me with Amiodarone. I don’t remember if the dosage was 400 or 800 mg. I stayed on this for about a week, then the dosage was reduced to 200 mg. And so it was.

A-Fib Anxiety

I became apprehensive and scared, especially when I would lay on my left side. I began to have palpitations. But I don’t believe I went into A-Fib. During the day I had no symptoms.

My attitude was negative, but my doctor said, “Don’t worry.” (It was easy for him to give me this advice. He didn’t have to live with the threat of A-Fib and the danger of Amiodarone.) I continued to take Amiodarone, though I realized the dangers of this drug. Statistics reveal that about 2%-3% have a fatal reaction.

A few months later I had another episode, followed by another in April, 2009.

EP Says I’m Not a Candidate for Ablation

During this period I saw an EP who told me I was not a candidate for an ablation, even though his practice specialized in ablations.

Careful Monitoring

I had blood work ups, chest X-rays, and a pulmonary function test. So far so good. I am scheduled to repeat these tests.

Attitude Change—Dealing With Stress

One day I decided I was not going to live like this, especially since I was not a candidate for an ablation. I had been hypertensive and overweight. So I began to diet. And most importantly, I changed my attitude, especially with regards to stress. I learned in a short time how to go about it. I learned not to allow anything to bother me and let everything go over my head. I became a new AL and am enjoying this way of life.

I swim and play bridge a lot which contributes to my success. My medication has been cut down to 100 mg four times a week. Likewise my other medications were discontinued or cut in half. My BP is 115-125 over 58-63, pulse 58-62. UNBELIEVABLE!

A-Fib Free for Three Years on Meds

I have been A-Fib free for almost three years on medication. As far as I am concerned, I am in remission. My doctors tell me however, that A-Fib is for life, and that I must manage it.

My Advice

To those who are not candidates for ablation, it’s my perspective that I’m having the same results as those who had a failed ablation. And to those who had a successful ablation, in my opinion you also are in remission. I believe this disease is with us forever. Yes, research is making progress, but they are not home yet.

Last but not least, change your attitude. Live life as if you didn’t have this disease.


Don’t fear amiodarone as long as it is carefully monitored. The statistics are in our favor. Multaq (a new drug like amiodarone) is now also found to have big problems.

[Al was taken off of Amiodarone and given Toprol XL.]

Good luck, and God bless all our A-Fib families

Al Drelich

Editor’s Comments:

As Al points out, if you’re on Amiodarone, you need to be carefully monitored by your doctor, particularly for your lungs, thyroid and eyes. Before starting on Amiodarone, baseline measurements should be taken. Then you should be monitored to see if these measurements are going up. See
We don’t have many “success” stories of A-Fib patients on meds, but in reality that’s the therapy that most people experience first. We’re grateful to Al for his testimony that A-Fib meds can work, that even the dreaded Amiodarone can be used with careful monitoring.
As someone who’s been cured of A-Fib for 15 years, I hope Al is wrong, that A-Fib is not with us forever. But he may be right. A successful catheter ablation makes us A-Fib free, but we often don’t really know what caused the A-Fib in the first place. We don’t have, for example, a vaccine to prevent A-Fib.
But as Al says, it’s useless worrying about whether A-Fib will return or not. Live life like you’re A-Fib free and cured of A-Fib!

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