A Fib Part 2: The Journey From Atrial Fibrillation To Cardiac Ablation

Header-image-StephenBy Robert K. Stephen

(TORONTO, ON) – Adjusting your Philosophy and Testing Your Adaptability. Many of us think, or like to think, that life is set between two pieces of bread. One side of the bread representing birth and the other side death.

In between is the sweet filling of life and matters move in predictable and linear fashion.

I’d much prefer the profound statement of Forest Gump when he states, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You’ll never know what you’ll get.”

If you have been diagnosed with A Fib you’ve been dealt a chocolate you didn’t want. This is a major upset in your life. Its effect on you physically is apparent, but mentally can your philosophy of life guide you through this nasty little setback?

Well I suppose that depends on what your philosophy of life is.

If you were thinking of sweet filling in between the bread was your life, your A Fib can be crushing. If you realize that life is indeed a box of chocolates with you never knowing what you get, then A Fib is something you just have to deal with and adapt to the best you can, until the ultimate solution is found for it.

Life is chaos. Accept that as your theory and you’ll be better equipped to deal with it.

According to a recent study some 38% of A Fibbers suffer from anxiety and depression. A Fib is not to be taken lightly from a psychological perspective.

However, patients with AF in particular have been shown to suffer from an increased prevalence of psychological distress. A study by Thrall et al. found that 38% of subjects with AF met criteria for significant depression under the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).

Furthermore, 28% and 38% were considered to possess state and trait anxiety in accordance with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

While their level of depression was not significantly higher than that of patients of another chronic disease examined in the study (hypertension), trait anxiety was markedly greater (38% for AF patients versus 22% for hypertensive patients,). Depression and anxiety levels correlated with the quality of life in patients with AF. Female and unemployed patients with AF had significantly poorer quality of life. There is a complex relationship between depression, anxiety, and AF.

AF can cause depression and anxiety in patients, and depression and anxiety may create an environment that is conducive for the initiation and perpetuation of AF. Importantly, depression and anxiety affect how patients perceive their illness, particularly for women, and impact healthcare utilization. The presence of depression and anxiety can impact the effectiveness of certain AF treatments.

Therefore, implementing strategies which can reduce anxiety and depression in our AF patients may improve treatment outcomes, patient quality of life, and reduce financial burdens associated with AF. Such strategies include patient education of the disease process thereby reducing uncertainty, management of AF symptoms aggressively, catheter ablation when antiarrhythmic drugs fail, and perhaps treating patients with psychiatric medications. – Journal of Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology, Volume 2013 (2013) Patel et. al.

If you accept life as unpredictable, I think you have a better chance to adapting to A Fib. What sense is there to be angry about a condition you initially can’t control or manage?

Pharmaceutical strategies will help you control A Fib and cardiac ablation will hopefully eliminate it. But one step at a time.

Chaos theory admits that your lack of control over your A Fib is a normal part of the transition process. Accept the fact you have lost control and look to a better future through some precarious uncertainty.

This does not mean you are defeated but, rather, that you are adapting.

As insane as this may sound, your A Fib presents you with a challenge that will afford you an opportunity to learn about yourself and grow and develop as you move to control or defeat it.

Get caught in the rut of negativity, discouragement, anger, bitterness, disillusionment, and hopelessness, then A Fib has you by the tail. Exactly where it wants you to be. The enemies of A Fib are coping, adapting, hoping, encouragement, and optimism.

Don’t be afraid to ask for psychological or psychiatric help if you feel you can’t fight the fight alone. These professionals are there to help you.

A Fib is a journey. The finish point s not exactly immediately clear but, rest assured, it is there. It will just take you a little time to find it.

Next: What exactly is A Fib and why it is a threat to you.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen
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