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Question about A Fib and flying
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Question about A Fib and flying

I have the type of A Fib where it comes up out of the blue and then stops.  Ive had about 4 episodes -- one had to be converted with IV medication after 11 hours.  The others have ranged anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours.  The problem I have is I get eh rapid ventricular response with mine where my heart rate goes way up.  My Dr says A fib is a "stable" condition and that although very uncomfortable, I can get through it if it happens on a plane.  Im not sure I can.  Has anyone been in this position  and how did you handle it?  I need to fly in a couple weeks and am dreading it.      
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm no expert but I believe that Cardizem (Calcium Channel Blocker) is considered a very effective drug for afib.  Cardizem, I believe, also lowers bp and heart rate.  Could your Dr prescribe some instant acting Cardizem that could be taken in the case of an Afib event on the plane?  I would think that this may at least keep your heart rate contained until you can get to an actual medical facility upon landing.  Just a thought.
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612551_tn?1247839157
Yes, an as needed medication is one approach, or even taking a dose before boarding just-in-case.  I thing a beta blocker is the more common med to lower HR (and need it or not, blood pressure).  Your doctor may be willing to give you a prescription for some low does, say 25 mg of Metoprolol (generic for Toprol) and have you take in a few days before your flight, if it gives you problems there would still be time to stop before you flight.  I'd not recommend taking a medication for the first time just before or on a flight or other difficult environment.
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1569985_tn?1328251082
I, too, have the rapid ventricular response with my afib.  The next to the last time I had an episode I spent 5 days in afib before being converted.  I don't recommend it, but it won't kill us I've been told.  I think trying a beta blocker couldn't hurt.  I have no experience with cardizem, but it sounds like it might work also.  Maybe your doctor could work out something for a "pill-in-the-pocket" approach.  Sometimes they will give you a drug like Rythmol to take to end an episode. You have to be free of blockages to use Rythmol.  My doctor tried it in the hospital but it didn't work for me.   That said, it wouldn't hurt to ask about that one or another.  Good luck.
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116881_tn?1189759423
I currently take Atenolol which I think is very similar to Metoprolol.  I used to take Metoprolol and had A Fib through it.  I keep telling myself its a 2.5 hour flight -- what are the odds you will get A Fib????
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1569985_tn?1328251082
Can you get some Xanax or something similar  just for the flight?  It might curb your anxiety.  You are right -- it is a small stretch of time and the odds should be in your favor.  Imagine a good experience -- might as well, we have no control over the future at any rate -- and imagining a good experience can't hurt, might help.  Good luck.
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351404_tn?1299492730
I had an ablation for AFib in September but have since had a couple of episodes which feels like exactly the same, lasting for a couple of hours with very rapid heartbeat and chest tightness.  I want to visit my daughter in the States but am fearful of the 10 hour flight from UK.  Does altitude affect the heart at all?
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612551_tn?1247839157
Even with a pressurized cabin I believe the inside is at about 10,000 feet elevation pressure.  

I assume you've done it, so I can't provide better estimates, but I am surprised you can get from the UK to Seattle in 10 hours.  Flights from UK to NYC must be at least 6 hours, NYC to Seattle must be another 6.  I assume you are talking about a direct flight, no stop in NYC, still 10 hours is shorter than I would have guessed.  I haven't been to the UK since about 2007, best I can recall, so my numbers could also be off.

All my data is from the olden days  : (
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351404_tn?1299492730
I will be flying from Heathrow London to Dallas Fort Worth - a very long time and I am wondering if I can afford to just go up one class for comfort if I decide to chance it.  What does elevation pressure do to the heart?
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612551_tn?1247839157
Yes, 10 hours to Dallas seems about right.  I used to travel from NYC to Europe, often the UK, several times a year.

My mention of altitude/pressure was an effort to relate to the question than any specific knowledge - other than flying often with AFib (but as you may recall my symptoms are mild) and years ago I was normally in NSR and taking Propafenone to keep me there, still flying did not cause any immediate problems.  I am a million mile flyer.  

So, I commented on the pressure level, which I think would have some effect on how much oxygen the blood absorbed, indeed that is why the cabin is pressurized.  If the cabin were not passengers would have to wear oxygen masks, that's what the emergency overhead dropdown masks are about.

Does less oxygen cause problem?  I'd guess as one is mostly sitting, it does not.  Further the pressure is the same in all classes, so a 1st class passenger pays many times as much for the seat, they don't get more oxygen.

Good luck, and unless you have an experience of problems with flying I'd say go for it.
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351404_tn?1299492730
Thanks Jerry.  If I have no further episodes during the next couple of months I shall indeed go for it, although travel insurance is probably going to be costly.  Trouble with ablation is you can never say you are cured and just have to wait perhaps for a couple of years before you can be certain - if then!
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