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

A-Fib Patient Story #90

Frustrated, Crosses Canadian Border for Ablation by Dr. Andrea Natale in Austin, TX

By Moni Minhas, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, October 2016

Rani and Moni Minhas

Rani and Moni Minhas

My wife, Rani Minhas, developed A-Fib in January 2015 when she was 61 years old. She felt dizzy when we were checking in for a flight from Barbados. She got better that day, and we took a later flight.

Over the next many months, she developed palpitations and A-Fib. We did not know it was A-Fib as we had never heard of the term.

“Get Used to It (A-Fib)…and It Will Get Worse.” NO! NO! NO!

Rani had fatigue and didn’t feel right. Before this, she was always healthy. She continued to exercise, as much as she could. But A-Fib really bothered her and made her feel both sick and anxious. Our whole family was worried about her.

Under the Canadian nationalized health care system, it took a lot of proactive action and aggressive approach to get proper help (which in the end wasn’t the proper treatment).

What is a normal BP reading? Less than 120/80 mm Hg (<120 systolic AND <80 diastolic).

The first cardiologist suggested Rani start taking a blood thinner and dismissed A-Fib as something that “happens when you get old, get used to it; and it will get worse.”

He did not even prescribe beta blockers. Instead, he suggested a Blood Pressure medicine. Her BP that day was 165/90.

After waiting for weeks, we went to cardiologist #2. He prescribed beta blockers and recommended Rani take a higher dosage when she felt palpitations [known as pill-in-the-pocket drug therapy].

Note: Almost every time we went to a doctor or a specialist, none of them had properly reviewed her file before they walked in to talk to her. It was pathetic. And we went to 4 cardiologists and 2 doctors.

Frustrated! Searches Web and Finds the A-Fib Coach Steve Ryan

Frustrated, one day, I turned to my friend “Google” and found The A-Fib Coach. I contacted Steve Ryan and paid the small fee he charges [for one-to-one coaching]. Then I ordered the Beat Your A-Fib book he has written. I never read the book as it seemed scary to read (not the book but the symptoms and consequences of A-Fib!).

Her first doctor: “A-Fib is something that happens when you get old, get used to it; and it will get worse.”

Steve was wonderful to talk to and told me about the Catheter Ablation procedure and gave me a lot of background on it and its benefits and risks, which were not many in my wife’s case.

Consultation with Dr. Thometz in Billings, Montana

I now went back to my friend “Google” and looked for an expert in Catheter Ablation close to our home in Calgary (Alberta Canada). Acrosss the U.S. border, I found someone in Billings, Montana. I made an appointment, and Rani and I drove 8 hours to Billings and stayed a night in the hotel.

The next morning, we spoke for 2 hours with Dr. Alan Thometz, the cardiac Electrophysiologist (EP) in Billings Clinic. He was very knowledgeable and helpful and answered every question we had. (We had a lot of help from Steve Ryan as to what questions to ask.)

We were comfortable with Dr. Thometz doing the procedure, but there was an 8 week wait. And Steve Ryan did not know him personally, which was not critical but was of some importance in deciding.

Let’s Find the Best EP in the USA

I asked Steve Ryan to suggest the best EP Cardiologist in the USA. He recommended Dr. Andrea Natale from Austin TX and Dr. Vivek Reddy in NY. We got an appointment with Dr. Natale quickly and in early June 2016 went for a catheter ablation procedure.

Ablation by Dr. Natale―No More Palpitations, No More A-Fib!

Dr Andrea Natale

Dr A. Natale

Dr. Natale did the procedure which took half a day. Rani stayed in the hospital overnight. Right after the procedure, we stayed in a hotel for another 10 days, even though it was not required. But I wanted Rani to be comfortable before coming home.

The procedure was great. No more A-Fib, no more palpitations. And no more beta blockers.

Recovery Period: 3 to 6 Months

We were told there is a 3 to 6 month recovery period [blanking period) for the heart to heal. Rani did have a few days of high BP and 1 day of low BP while her heart was healing. This is almost all gone, and she has 120 BP now on a regular basis which is perfect.

It has now been over 4 months, and Rani is now jogging and exercising every day. She does get some fatigue, but we feel pretty good that she will get over that by January 2017 based on trends. For now, she takes BP medicine and a blood thinner (Xarelto).

Gratitude to Steve Ryan

To say Steve Ryan was extremely helpful is an understatement. Without his guidance, we would not have known that Catheter Ablation is an option. Without him, we would not have found Dr. Natale. We haven’t met Steve Ryan in person, but the next time we’re in Los Angeles, we’ll take him out for dinner as a way of thanks.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned graphic with hands 400 pix sq at 300 resGood health is the best gift we can have. If you have A-Fib (or any health issues), be aggressive and proactive in seeking treatment and advice.

Do not assume every healthcare professional is doing their job, including doctors and cardiologists. Use your own judgement and ask a lot of questions. Challenge the medical staff.

Moni Minhas

Editor’s Comments:
Be Proactive! Moni and Rani’s story is an excellent example of being proactive rather than passively living with A-Fib for the rest of her life.
I’m astounded that any doctor today would tell Rani and Moni to just live in A-Fib, “get used to…and it will get worse.”
Moni knew something was wrong with this doctor’s advice. He educated himself about A-Fib. He got second (and third) opinions. He didn’t let his beloved wife, Rani, suffer from A-Fib. He found the best doctor he could and got her treated and cured before her A-Fib could get worse. Her quick treatment may have made her A-Fib much easier to cure.
Long-Term Effects of Living in A-Fib: Aside from feeling miserable, having a reduced quality of life, and suffering emotional stress and anxiety, over time A-Fib can have devastating effects on your heart, brain and other organs.
Don’t Live in A-Fib! Follow Moni and Rani’s example! Don’t listen to doctors and others who may tell you that A-Fib can’t be cured, that the only thing possible is to improve A-Fib symptoms; or that catheter ablation is experimental and not proven; or that you have to take these A-Fib drugs for the rest of your life and you should just learn to live with A-Fib.
Instead, RUN, don’t walk to get a second opinion (and even a third)!
Compared to other heart ailments, A-Fib is relatively easy to fix. You owe it to yourself to get the facts, to look at all your treatment options, not just drugs.

You don’t have to live in A-Fib!


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If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2017

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