In Portugal, We Fix Afib

Overshare #2 on the way….

Last fall, I developed Afib. It started off relatively occasional and manageable, with short-lived bouts which grew in frequency and duration while we toured across Italy last spring. So much so that I visited an ER in Siena, concerned it was something more serious, as I wrote about here.

Since returning from Italy to Portugal, and after consulting my cardiologist in the US, via email, we decided to utilize our visa-required Portuguese health insurance and further check out the services of the local CUF hospital. I booked an appointment with a cardiologist, “Doctor Bruno”, here. We instantly liked him. It’s not as though we disliked my guy in the US (though he was my second cardiologist after we really did not care for the the bedside manner of cardiologist #1 who dismissed our questions about the proximity of developing Afib to the Pfizer booster. It all started 7 days later after absolutely zero symptoms previously. “It had to start sometime” he arrogantly dismissed our question that it could even possibly be linked. I guess in his defense it was early on (kinda), but there is now some evidence of a statistically significant sample of Afib (2.6%) and possible correlation to the Pfizer vaccine according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiologists. All we wanted from either #1 or #2 was a “you may not be crazy, it’s possible, but too early to say”. It could very well have been that #1 was right and Afib was lurking and maybe the booster inspired it to make more regular appearances, or it was just “my time for it to start”. I happen to believe it was probably the former, but I guess we can file this one in the category of small redemption with some side effects. Honestly, I’d still take the vaccine again even if I knew Afib was coming, as a bad COVID outcome would have been worse, but I will ponder further boosters with the consultation of medical advice).

What we liked about Doctor Bruno was that he lacked all of the smugness and arrogance of Cardiologist #1 and had the regular-guyness that Cardiologist #2 didn’t have. He prescribed the medication (which #2 would have done if we’d been in the US, since I’m at that stage) and discussed doing an ablation procedure (also recommended by #2) and was recommended by our PCP here (“in Portugal, we just fix Afib” she said when I met with her in January).

The meds are working. Thankfully. I’ve had only one Afib instance since initiating the regimen, which was stunted by an “emergency pill”, but I’m on three pills, one twice daily and the prospect of needing to further medicate if Afib finds holes and gaps in the process lurks. “Medication for life”, Bruno called it.

So, after some administrative and language-impaired hurdles with the scheduling administrator leading to some unnecessary confusion, and a follow up visit with Bruno, we decided to further test out our insurance and the quality of care at the CUF and proceed with the ablation.

It’s a “minor” procedure but has risks like any procedure does. It has about a 50-50 chance of success, but both Bruno and #2 think it has a higher probability of success for me given my complete lack of any accompanying health issues aside from the actual Afib condition. So, in we go, this week, for a procedure. Maybe it will work. Hopefully there will be no serious side effect. Possibly I’ll avoid a lifetime of heart meds, or at least forestall a regular, daily regimen for some time. Vamos ver (we will see).

Até a próxima (until the next)…

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