Early diagnosis of atrial fibrillation is essential for proper care

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“Wow, that’s a rare lung disease. I’ve heard of lymphocytic interstitial pneumonia [LIP], but I have never known or treated anyone with this disease. Your case will be interesting.

This is what my cardiologist told me during my first consultation regarding my hospital stay for symptoms of atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response (AFib-RVR). With this condition, the upper and lower chambers of the heart respond to the same faulty electrical signals and beat chaotically, resulting in a faster heart rate. I wrote about this hospitalization in a past column.

I have read several studies on heart disease and its link to lung disease. Not long ago I read a 2018 article by Joana Carvalho on COPD news today entitled “Hospitalized COPD patients with atrial fibrillation are more likely to develop complications, study reports show.” Then I read another article from 2018 on Sarcoidosis News by Ana Pena, PhD, titled “Patients with sarcoidosis are more likely to develop heart rhythm disturbances, large retrospective study finds.” It made me think of my own struggle with cardiac arrhythmia.

LIP

With concern, I asked my cardiologist if my LIP could have caused my Cardiac arrythmia. He replied that arrhythmia is a serious side effect associated with LIP. This is not the first time that LIP offers me a serious illness. My pulmonary fibrosis is the consequence of the many complications that are part of the disease.

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I’m glad I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation early so I could get the proper care I need.

I have often felt Heart palpitations, but I always thought they were due to my lung disease, because I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. I never allowed myself to think of any other disease beyond my lungs.

It was difficult to find a treatment that my doctors could agree on. Cardiac arrhythmia is difficult to treat along with my pulmonary fibrosis. The blood thinners for the heart problem could cause fluid to build up in my lungs and increase the risk of bleeding and blood clots.

Devices and treatment

After reviewing the records of my ER visit, my cardiologist advised me that before deciding on a treatment regimen, we first need to see how often my heart goes into atrial fibrillation.

I was sent home with a portable heart monitor called the RX-1 mini. The monitor would be fixed in the middle of my chest, just above my breasts, so that it could record my corresponding EKG data and send it to the monitoring center. In turn, they would send all the data to my cardiologist to see if at any time I had AFib. I had to have the monitor for 31 days.

Unfortunately, the monitor could not accurately collect the data my cardiologist was hoping to find.

The next step was to have a LUX-Dx Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) inserted into the left side of my sternum. The implant is small, about the length of a paper clip. A small incision (about 3-4 cm or 1.2-1.5 inches) is made and a pocket is created under the skin. The ICM is placed in this pocket.

|  Pulmonary Fibrosis News |  a photo of an incision site, now sealed

Ann’s wound shortly after surgery, when the ICM was placed over Ann’s left sternum. (Courtesy of Ann Reynoso)

The ICM collects information about my heart rhythms and stores it. The device then sends the information through an application installed on a mobile device provided to me. Every night my implant connects to the mobile device, which is about the size of a cell phone, and sends this information to my cardiologist.

I’m home now, waiting for my little incision to heal. It’s hard not to think of a small device with a wireless connection inserted into my body. It’s amazing how far technology has evolved. Mobile device monitor data is read monthly – unless my heart goes into atrial fibrillation, in which case my cardiologist and I are alerted. This will let me know when I need to go to the emergency room.

|  Pulmonary Fibrosis News |  a photo of Ann's incision site, now nearly healed

Two weeks after the operation, the small incision has healed well. (Courtesy of Ann Reynoso)

Cope and move on

I wish it were that easy on my lungs. I would like a wireless device to activate them for them to work properly. I wonder if there will come a day when I don’t have to hear, “Wow! It is a rare lung disease. I’m waiting for the day when I hear: “Wow! Technology has found a cure!

I am writing this column about my experience because although the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation is new to me, it is common in patients with interstitial lung disease. Having an implant to record the rhythm of my heart amazed me. My health seems to be on a roller coaster ride: fierce to fun to scary.

To my readers, take charge of your health. Familiarize yourself with your body. Pay attention to your symptoms. Early diagnosis can open the doors to intensive care and treatment.

If you have any concerns or think you have symptoms of atrial fibrillation, see your doctor right away. To learn more about the ICM procedure, click on here to see a short video.


To note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a disease news and information site. It does not provide medical advice, diagnostic, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnostic, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of anything you read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues relating to pulmonary fibrosis.

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