Slowly Bleeding to Death

I have atrial fibrillation, as does Mark Spitz, the record-breaking American swimmer.  Mine isn’t as dramatic as his, mine was simply discovered when I went to the doctor and she listened to my heart.

“You have an irregular heartbeat.” she said.

“I know, I’ve had it for years.”

“We really should do something about it.”

That’s why I hate going to the doctor – I always come away with more than I take in.

I have an International Normalized Ratio (INR) test every few weeks to see how my blood is clotting. I need this because the doctors make me take Warfarin to stop my blood clotting too quickly. Until a few years ago I thought of Warfarin as a very effective rat poison.

If you have a normal set-up you have an INR of around 1. If you have atrial fibrillation they try to get it in the range 2.0 -3.0 which stops it clotting and prevents strokes and heart attacks. If you have a mechanical heart valve they like it to be a bit higher. It’s nothing special, a million of us have it in the UK and ten percent of the over 75s have it.

However, it can be a bit variable, and you may have noticed that I often complain about the testing, as the results can be very imprecise, which annoys me. I do my bit – eat a dull and unvaried diet, take the pills at the same time each day and let them take regular bloods. They, on the other hand, don’t do much, as I recently pointed out to them.

So, I believe I had got as far as 3.5 for people with mechanical heart valve and similar problems. The next step is 5.0 – 8.0. They start getting twitchy at this sort of level, particularly if it is accompanied by bleeding, and start threatening vitamin K injections. At 8.0 they start getting very twitchy . . .

And at 9.6, if you haven’t admitted to any bleeding, they tell you to stop taking the pills immediately and to go for another blood test in two day’s time.

I’m not sure whether to worry or claim it as a personal best.





25 thoughts on “Slowly Bleeding to Death

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  3. jodierichelle

    Simon, I am so sorry to hear this. Thank goodness they are testing you so often and caught it. I hope the next test will show you in a better state. Hugs to you. Hang in there.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Today’s results show the levels are normal so it’s OK for now. It was probably caused by Covid or not eating due to Covid. Hopefully I don’t need to worry about that for a while.

  4. paolsoren

    Thanks for all that. You’ve scared the daylight out of me. I’ll make an appointment to see my doctor as soon as I’ve finished off the half bottle of Ardbeg. If I go now he’ll only tell me to stop drinking Whisky altogether.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      It’s a tricky situation – we should take care of our health but doctors always insist on looking on the worst side. They repeatedly refer to my smoking and drinking habits of 25 years ago and ignore the fact that I no longer smoke and rarely drink. Makes you wonder if it was worth giving up . . .

  5. Lavinia Ross

    I know someone with AF. Drugs were used first, that didn’t work well. Then cardioversion was tried, which seemed to work, for a short while. A second cardioversion, was done, only temporary relief. Cardioablation was tried after that. Seems to be what finally did the trick.

    Thoughts and prayers are with you, Quercus.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Fortunately, mine isn’t serious – just the odd missed beat here and there – none of the dramatic stuff. I’m going to lose weight and start taking care of myself so will see how it goes.


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