The Heart of the Matter — Side Effects of AF Medications

Arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart beats too quickly and irregularly. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of arrhythmia that occurs when disorganized electrical signals cause the upper and lower chambers of the heart to contract or beat too quickly, or fibrillate.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia. It increases with age, and differs widely in presentation and severity.  If you have AF, what do you need to know?

The faulty electrical signals underlying AF are caused by both transient and chronic factors, including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Drug interactions
  • Stimulants like caffeine
  • Sleep apnea
  • Chronic illnesses such as lung disease
  • Viral infections

With AF, blood pooling in the upper chambers of the heart can clot and lead to stroke. In many cases, a blood-thinning agent is prescribed to reduce that risk.

While the prevention of blood clots is important, established drug Coumadin (warfarin) and new drugs like Pradaxa (dabigatran) have high-risk side effects. With no medical antidote, Pradaxa can facilitate internal bleeding and massive fatal hemorrhaging. Recent disclosure of the dangers of blood thinning drugs has increased the medical and legal focus on patients injured or killed by these pharmaceutical compounds.

Atrial fibrillation poses risks, but so does its treatment. If you suffer from serious drug side effects from blood thinners, get to the heart of the matter with your doctor — and speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.