Learning to Live with Paroxysmal AFib

Posted: September 06, 2023 | Word Count: 1,559

This content is sponsored by Sanofi

My name is David and I am a retiree living in Minneapolis after working 30+ years in sales.

Retirement has left me with what feels like a lot of time for my hobbies, like golf and traveling, and spending time with my wife, daughter, and our golden retriever.

I know this time is valuable, because I have a history of serious heart conditions among men in my family. Because of my family history, taking an active role in my health, including exercise and fitness, and eating healthy have always been a part of my life.

I’ve always done what I could to keep Mother Nature at bay, but about 14 years ago, my family history caught up with me.

It began with feeling winded and fatigued while on the golf course. I finished the front nine (in retrospect, not a good decision) and when I went home my wife took my pulse and it was absolutely racing.

Shortly after that I found myself in the ER, and an electrocardiogram (EKG) and other tests showed that I was in atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib. It’s estimated more than 5 million people in the U.S. have AFib, and I was formally diagnosed with paroxysmal AFib since my heart rhythm returned to normal on its own within a few hours.

AFib happens when there is a disruption in your heart’s normal rhythm and the symptoms of AFib itself can be highly debilitating, and if left untreated, can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications.

For me, when my heart came out of normal rhythm during an AFib episode, I felt discomfort and tightness in my chest, accompanied by extreme fatigue and weakness. I would find myself huffing and puffing and totally worn out. In some instances, my AFib episodes left me so weak I didn’t think I could get myself off the couch and to the hospital.

It can be difficult to predict when an AFib episode may occur. Some common symptoms of AFib include racing, fluttering or irregular heartbeat. It’s important to call your doctor right away to discuss how you’re feeling.

Unfortunately, I experienced additional AFib episodes after that first ER visit. Given my AFib episodes were becoming more frequent and lasting longer, I finally committed to finding a cardiologist who could help me manage my condition.

I went to my cardiologist ready to listen, but also brought questions that I wanted answers to as well.

After listening to my concerns and discussing potential side effects, my doctor suggested an antiarrhythmic medicine to help control the rhythm of my heart, called MULTAQ (dronedarone), a prescription medicine used to lower the chance that you will need to go into the hospital for an irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (AFib). It is meant for people with certain types of AFib (paroxysmal or persistent AFib) who have had AFib in the past but are now in normal rhythm. To learn more about MULTAQ, including the risk of serious side effects, visit Multaq.com.

Ever since then I’ve committed to managing my paroxysmal Afib with MULTAQ.

For people diagnosed with paroxysmal or persistent AFib – please understand that it is a serious condition that can progress over time if left untreated. Taking an active role in managing your AFib may reduce your risk of future AFib episodes. It is important to take action – and for me – the easiest step was scheduling an appointment with a cardiologist and listening to my options.

It’s also important to have a support system in place. My wife in particular is helpful with keeping me on track with doctor’s appointments and reminding me to take my MULTAQ as prescribed – if she still wants me to stick around then I guess I’ve done something right!

Every patient’s experience is unique and results may vary. Remember, your doctor is your best source of information and be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have.

Important Safety Information

What is the most important safety information I should know about MULTAQ?

Do not take MULTAQ if you have symptoms of heart failure that recently worsened and you were hospitalized, or if you have severe heart failure. MULTAQ doubles your risk of dying if you have these conditions.

Do not take MULTAQ if you have a type of atrial fibrillation (AFIB) called permanent AFIB. You should not take MULTAQ if you are in AFIB and your doctor is not planning to change you back into normal rhythm. People with permanent AFIB who take MULTAQ have a higher risk of death, stroke, and needing to be treated in a hospital for heart failure.

MULTAQ may cause liver problems, including life-threatening liver failure. Call your doctor right away if you are taking MULTAQ and develop any of these signs and symptoms of liver problems: loss of appetite; nausea; vomiting; fever; feeling unwell; unusual tiredness; itching; yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes; unusual darkening of the urine; right upper stomach area pain or discomfort.

When should I call the doctor?

Call your doctor right away if you’re taking MULTAQ and have any signs and symptoms of heart failure. These may include shortness of breath or wheezing at rest; wheezing, chest tightness, or coughing up frothy sputum at rest, nighttime, or after minor exercise; trouble sleeping or waking up at night or using more pillows to prop yourself at night because of breathing problems; weight gain; or foot or leg swelling.

Call your doctor right away if you notice that your heartbeat or pulse is irregular. This is a sign that you are in AFIB.

Call your doctor if you develop shortness of breath or a dry cough during treatment with MULTAQ.

Call your doctor if you experience an allergic reaction, such as itchy rash, low blood pressure, or rapid swelling of the throat or skin, especially around the lips or eyes.

Who else shouldn’t take MULTAQ?

You should not take MULTAQ if you are allergic to dronedarone or any of the other ingredients in MULTAQ.

You should not take MULTAQ if you have severe liver problems or if you had liver or lung problems after using amiodarone.

You should not take MULTAQ if you have a certain type of heart problem called heart block, and you do not have an implanted pacemaker.

You should not take MULTAQ if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or plan to become pregnant as it is not known if it may pass to or harm your baby. Women who may become pregnant should use effective birth control while taking MULTAQ. Talk to your doctor about the best birth control methods for you.

Are there any medications I should avoid while taking MULTAQ?

MULTAQ can interact with certain medications. Do not use the following medications with MULTAQ:

  • Nefazodone
  • Ketoconazole
  • Voriconazole
  • Clarithromycin
  • Ritonavir
  • Itraconazole
  • Telithromycin
  • Cyclosporine

Are there other medicines that would be harmful when taken with MULTAQ?

The following medicines can lead to a dangerous abnormal heart rhythm if taken with MULTAQ:

  • Phenothiazines
  • Tricyclic antidepressant
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Certain medicines used to treat an abnormal heart rhythm or fast heartbeat

What are possible serious side effects from taking MULTAQ?

MULTAQ may cause serious side effects including slowed heartbeat, inflammation of the lungs (including scarring and thickening), low potassium and magnesium levels in your blood, and changes in kidney function blood tests.

What are the most common side effects?

The most common side effects when taking MULTAQ include stomach problems such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach area pain, and indigestion; feeling tired and weak; skin problems such as redness, rash, and itching. Tell your doctor about any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Are there other things I should avoid while taking MULTAQ?

Do not drink grapefruit juice while taking MULTAQ, as this can increase the likelihood that you will have a side effect of MULTAQ.

What else should I tell my doctor?

Tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, and herbal remedies (including St. John's Wort) you take to help avoid serious drug interactions.

Is it OK to take a diuretic ("water pill") while on MULTAQ?

Your potassium levels should be within the normal range prior to and while taking MULTAQ. Tell your doctor about any diuretic medications ("water pills") you are taking as some can lower the level of potassium or magnesium in your blood.

Will I need any tests while I'm on MULTAQ?

Your doctor will monitor your heart rhythm regularly to make sure your heartbeat keeps a normal rhythm. Your doctor may perform certain tests, such as heart exams and blood tests, while you're taking MULTAQ.

Click here for full Prescribing Information, including SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS.

Click here for the MULTAQ Medication Guide (English).

Click here to learn more about Sanofi's commitment to fighting counterfeit drugs.

Remember, your doctor is the single best source of information regarding your health. Please consult your doctor if you have any questions about your health or your medicine.

If you are a patient experiencing problems with a Sanofi U.S. product, please contact Sanofi U.S. at 1-800-633-1610.

The health information contained herein is provided for general educational purposes only. Your healthcare professional is the single best source of information regarding your health. Please consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your health or treatment.

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