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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Pacemaker fitted due to atrial fibrillation. On warfarin. Feeling tired and difficulty to walk. Any cure?

Answered by
Dr. Anil Grover


Practicing since :1981

Answered : 922 Questions

Posted on Fri, 18 Jan 2013 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
Question: My father was diagnosed with arterial fibriliation 2 years ago and had a pacemaker fitted 18 months ago. He is nearly 81. He is now on Warfarin. The Warfarin appears to have 2 side effects; it is giving him wobbly legs making it hard to walk, and it is making him very tired. The latter does appear in Warfarin side effect, the former doesn't, although he has told me that others he knows taking warfarin have experienced the same symptom (could obviously be psychosomatic).

I want to (obviously) improve his quality of life. Is there anything I can do help him? Can we change medicaments? Is there anything we can do to get him well?

Answered by Dr. Anil Grover 4 hours later
Thanks for writing in.
I am a qualified and certified cardiologist. I read your mail with diligence. I can answer if you can help with more details like:
1. Has he been put on any other drugs.
2. How you have been advised to monitor the dose of warfarin (usually one is asked to get a test INR done every 15 days or month) and thirdly:
3. Any details of the pacemaker you can provide as to its type name function?
Looking forward to hear from you.
I will answer as soon as possible after getting a reply from you.

Dr Anil Grover
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Anil Grover 36 hours later

Thank you for your reply. My mum has given me the following:

1. No, he isn't on any other drugs. However, he does take a whole range of vitamins, minerals, and supplements.
2. Absolutely, he is monitored every 2 - 3 weeks. His readings have been very normal EXCEPT when he had to take antiobiotics recently when it started to interfere with the warfarin. This is the only hiatus he has had.
3. I am afraid they do not know the type of pacemaker he has. In terms of its purpose it is there to back up his own XXXXXXX pacemaker, and mummy tells me it is operating at the 91% level, which suggests to me that his own "pacemaker" isn't very effective. Certainly before he was diagnosed with arterial fibrilation he was in a really bad way - got out of breath very quickly, and couldn't walk very far, etc. Because he had suffered from ashtma for most of his young life it took a long while for us to make a connection that it might be other than his former chest condition.

I am sorry that I don't have any further information. I have been thinking about going to see his consultant with him so that I get the information first hand. It is such a difficult thing to balance off respecting your parents wishes, and yet protecting them as they get older.

With thanks,

Answered by Dr. Anil Grover 18 hours later
Thank you for writing back.
The answers has been helpful and yes I could make out from the description what kind of pacemaker he has.
The essential problem is he has atrial fibrillation with slow ventricular rate and thus role or contribution of atria in pumped blood in atrial fibrillation per se is minimal (which in his age about 20%). Thus overall cardiac output is less than what is required. Therefore, he should not do any exertion or extra work which makes him uncomfortable. Even the routine morning jobs from awakening to getting ready should be divided with interruptions like reading newspaper or watching TV.
The symptoms which are ascribing to Warfarin are not because of warfarin per se. That is an essential drug so as to avoid complications of atrial fibrillation by keeping his blood thin. He should take plenty of fruits. There is no problem in taking vitamins but please see he should avoid vitamin K which has opposite effect to warfarin.

Lastly, quality of life also depends on how much encouragement he gets from his family. Keep that up. You are taking good care of him. There are certain things which are not in human control.

If you have any other question, I will be happy to answer.


Dr Anil Grover

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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