Dear Ask The Doctor: My afib occurs at least once a week and I have been in it for 10 days now. My doctor wants to change me to . It seems to have side effects all over the board. There is a herbal product found at www.flemeton.com that has no side effects. Which route do you think I should travel down?
Dear Patient: Flecainide is an anti-arrhythmic drug which is supposed to help your heart stay in a normal regular rhythm and therefore reduce the frequency of you developing episodes of atrial fibrillation (AF). I agree that flecainide does carry with it many side effects and should not be used if you have a history of heart artery disease or impaired heart function. I would not recommend herbal products as an alternative as they have not been as widely studied in humans with AF, as much as prescribed medications have been. The fact that so many side effects have been reported is due to the fact that these drugs have been so widely studied. There are several alternatives to flecainide which could be tried and probably the safest long term would be a beta blocker (there are several alternatives which could be tried). A new and modified version of amiodarone is also now available which does not appear to carry the long term side effects of amiodarone and it would be worth discussing this with your doctor. The final option is, if you cannot tolerate any medications; consideration of a catheter ablation to terminate AF. This is generally reserved for cases which do not respond to medication and may be a useful alternative.