Andrew: Welcome to a group of many millions of us worldwide with atrial fibrillation. If you haven’t heard, this is the most common arrhythmia around. I’ve had this problem since I was a teenager but since I reached the age of sixty and beyond it has become worse and worse. My quality of life dropped drastically.
After going through several doctors, family practice, internists, cardiologists, (several of these), all of whom told me roughly, “It is not life threatening so get used to it and try *this*!” This attitude on their part only frustrated me so I began to research the problem on my own, mostly through the internet. What I’ve found out is that Afib is a major mystery to the entire medical profession. It seems everybody has there own, different ideas as to the causes, treatments and remedies for this problem. The one thing that everone agrees upon is that you want to protect yourself from having a stroke by taking blood thinners which will limit any clots from reaching your brain. A mild anticoagulant is aspirin; a stronger one is warfarin but this has to be carefully monitored by frequent blood tests.
The two major current schools of thought as to the control of Afib is heart rate vs. heart rhythm control. Rate control seems to be easier and safer to control. Rhythm control needs drugs that have serious side effects and are in some case dangerous. A more radical control of rhythm is ablation,(destruction), of the sources of the incorrect heart operation. This is not major surgery but it too has its’ limitations. I personally am waiting for more research on this procedure before I attempt it, but this does seem to be the present road to the “magic bullet” that every one is looking for.
The toprol you are taking is mostly a ‘rate’ control drug. It tends to keep your heart beat down but it probably causes you to feel tired all the time, right? It is a “beta blocker” and there are dozens of them on the market.
I would suggest that you do more searching on your own. For instance, right here in Yahoo is an Afibsupport group that probably has more back and forth dialogue than you can handle in an hour a day of reading, but give it a try. If you have Afib, the problem will only get worse as you grow older so start learning all you can now. At least you will be more active in your own medical solution for a cure to your problems. Also, the best type of doctor to consult for Afib is an electrophysiologist — EP. This would be his or her speciality if you don’t feel your present doctor is handling your problem well. Good luck.