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A-Fib Patient Story #45

My Xanax (alprazolam) Experience: Eye Drops Bring on A-Fib Attack

By Sally, 2011

I just wanted to share this experience with you. I was given Brimonidine eye drops for possible glaucoma and high eye pressure twice a day.  I noticed not long after using them, that I would feel very jittery.  I told the optometrist, and he just laughed and said I was probably jittery all my life.

So, I kept using them. And one day, about twenty minutes or more after taking those eye drops, I began to feel really strange…like I was going to faint…and clammy…very frightening.  I felt my pulse, and it was in strong A-Fib…not even readable.   I called my G.P, and they said to come right over.  They did an EKG and said I had to go to ER immediately, that I was in serious A-Fib, and that they were calling 911.

I begged her to let me just go home (I live near the doctor’s office) and take my Xanax. She was very angry at me for not agreeing to go. I told her no way I was going…for many reasons.  One, my dog won’t let anyone in the house but me and my sons, and they were away at the time.  I wanted to go home and get a neighbor to come down and see if she could stay with my dog, so I’d know she was taken care of.

I went home and called my neighbor. But she didn’t answer the phone. So I took the 0.5 mg. of Xanax. (I usually just take half of one.) And in 20 minutes or so, the A-Fib was gone, and my pulse was normal! I took a long nap. When I woke up, I dreaded telling my Nurse Practicioner that I didn’t go to ER after all. She later showed me my EKG when I refused to go. It looked like a scan of the sky with stars all over the place. She said it was the worse she’d ever seen.

I still take my half dosage of Xanax before bedtime and a whole one on occasion. It seems to work for me thus far.

I am convinced that the Xanax is keeping the adrenalin from going into my heart and causing the A-Fib.  Before I took it, I was getting A-Fib every time I went to bed. It was very frightening.  Pfizer says they didn’t know of this effect of Xanax, that they are still learning more about this drug as time goes by. Also, only one brand of the generic works for me…the round peach one. The oval yellow one doesn’t. I tried it several times.

Xanax may only work in my case, but I don’t think my A-Fib is from panic or anxiety. It seems more of a structural problem with my heart. And lying down makes me aware of it, or it just begins when I do lie down.  Who knows?


Editor’s comments:
Stan, in permanent A-Fib for 8 years, writes of his experience with Xanax.
“This drug [Xanax] has been very important to me. I use it as a kind of panic button, and just knowing it is available helps me to cope. At times the electrical tension (the only way I can describe it) of my heart cycles up, and Xanax brings me, within minutes, back to my normal comfort level. The effect seems to last for days.”

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