Doctors & patients are saying about 'A-Fib.com'...


"A-Fib.com is a great web site for patients, that is unequaled by anything else out there."

Dr. Douglas L. Packer, MD, FHRS, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

"Jill and I put you and your work in our prayers every night. What you do to help people through this [A-Fib] process is really incredible."

Jill and Steve Douglas, East Troy, WI 

“I really appreciate all the information on your website as it allows me to be a better informed patient and to know what questions to ask my EP. 

Faye Spencer, Boise, ID, April 2017

“I think your site has helped a lot of patients.”

Dr. Hugh G. Calkins, MD  Johns Hopkins,
Baltimore, MD


Doctors & patients are saying about 'Beat Your A-Fib'...


"If I had [your book] 10 years ago, it would have saved me 8 years of hell.”

Roy Salmon, Patient, A-Fib Free,
Adelaide, Australia

"This book is incredibly complete and easy-to-understand for anybody. I certainly recommend it for patients who want to know more about atrial fibrillation than what they will learn from doctors...."

Pierre Jaïs, M.D. Professor of Cardiology, Haut-Lévêque Hospital, Bordeaux, France

"Dear Steve, I saw a patient this morning with your book [in hand] and highlights throughout. She loves it and finds it very useful to help her in dealing with atrial fibrillation."

Dr. Wilber Su,
Cavanaugh Heart Center, 
Phoenix, AZ

"...masterful. You managed to combine an encyclopedic compilation of information with the simplicity of presentation that enhances the delivery of the information to the reader. This is not an easy thing to do, but you have been very, very successful at it."

Ira David Levin, heart patient, 
Rome, Italy

"Within the pages of Beat Your A-Fib, Dr. Steve Ryan, PhD, provides a comprehensive guide for persons seeking to find a cure for their Atrial Fibrillation."

Walter Kerwin, MD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA


Steve Ryan

In 2002 Steve Ryan started Atrial Fibrillation: Resources for Patients, A-Fib.com, to spare other the frustration, depression and anxiety he went through to find his cure. Dr. Ryan had his first A‑Fib attack in the January 1997. After numerous failed drug therapies, two unsuccessful right atria ablations, and much frustration, he educated himself about Atrial Fibrillation through an exhaustive search of medical literature and interviews with medical experts. In April 1998 he was cured by Drs. Pierre Jaïs and Michel Haïssaguerre of the French Bordeaux group (Hôpital Cardiologique du Haut-Lévêque, France) through a relatively new procedure at the time called Focal Point Catheter Ablation (now called “pulmonary vein Isolation”). So grateful for his cure, he pledged to help other A‑Fib patients find their cure, too. In 2002, he started Atrial Fibrillation: Resources for Patients (www.A‑Fib.com) a source of well-researched, unbiased information on current and emerging treatments, resources and medical research―all written in plain language for the patients and their families. Every month tens of thousands of A-Fib patients and their families visit A-Fib.com seeking hope and guidance. Healthcare professionals around the world refer their patients to www.A-Fib.com. Dr. Steve Ryan earned a Ph.D. in Educational Communications from the Ohio State University, and for many years taught film and television courses at the college level. He “jumped the fence” in 1983 to work in broadcast television production at ABC-TV in Hollywood and later for many years at NBC-TV in Burbank. For fun Steve trains for and runs sprint races and an occasional 5K race. He is quite the film buff and has seen every notable film ever made (well almost). He took an early retirement from NBC in 2001. He spends much of his time researching and writing for A-Fib.com and counseling other A-Fib patients. He and his wife, Patti, live in Malibu, California, USA. For more background information, see Steve S. Ryan, PhD at LinkedIn, Steve S. Ryan on Facebook, and www.BeatYourA-Fib.com.

On a Personal Note: Malibu Fires and Mandatory Evacuation

Malibu flames; photo: AFP/Getty Images

Due to the spreading brush fires heading toward the Pacific shoreline, Patti and I evacuated our home Friday noon under mandatory order for all in the City of Malibu, CA.

Fanned by the roaring “Santa Ana winds”, we had been smelling the fires since early morning when we got an automated call to prepare to evacuate. We lost power mid-morning. The air was filled with soot and ashes and covered our patio and steps. We wore filter masks.

Time to Go: Billowing grey clouds rolled out over the ocean. Fires lit up the crests of the hills off Pacific Coast Hwy (CA#1). What sounded like rain drops on the car roof were actually airborne ash bits.

Malibu smoke clouds; photo David-McNew-Getty-Images

We were heading south to the evacuation center at the Pacific Palisades high school. We didn’t make it.

About 2 miles from our home (before we got to Zuma Beach and the Pt. Dune area) we encountered smoke across the road and with flames on both sides. So we turned around and headed north instead. Since Friday noon, we’ve been tucked away safely at a motel in Oxnard about 30 miles north/west of Malibu.

Surfing for News: Every few hours we check TV news coverage, online video footage, official city/county emergency websites and social media posts for any news about the area around our home. As best we can tell, the fires reported at Pt. Dune and Trancas Canyon are the closest at about 4 miles south/east.

Based on TV news aerial footage from Sunday morning, we are optimistic the fires have not reached our home and it will still be there when we are allowed back in.

Blessings upon our firefighters

Our Thanks to First Responders: Blessings to the firefighters and police all working to protect our homes, as well as those staffing the evacuation centers ranging from Thousand Oaks to Santa Monica. (Including special centers sheltering animals including horses, llamas, dogs, etc.).

Please pray (and send out positive thoughts) for those who have lost everything. No matter your income level, it’s still devastating.

We’re still writing and posting to A-Fib.com from our motel room. We’ll update when we have news about returning to our home, God willing.

After 18 years in A-Fib, Triathlete Mike Jones Asked, “Could I Be so Fortunate?”

In his A-Fib story, Mike Jones writes that he’d been a very physically active middle age man who competed in running, triathlons and handball. It was difficult for him to accept that “something was wrong”.

In fact, he had paroxysmal A-Fib episodes for at least three years before his official diagnosis. Over the many years, he had been on various drug therapies, but nonetheless, his A-Fib episodes become very debilitating. He shares:

Mike Jones

“For many years, surgical intervention was out of reach, and financially out of the question for me. And, in those days, there was only the “Maze”. Along the way, I read a little bit about the Mini Maze, which did not inspire me much either.
It wasn’t until I found “A-Fib Resources for Patients” [A-Fib.com] that I began to take a real interest in researching PVI/PVA [Pulmonary Vein Isolation/Ablation] .”

Mike recalls the day after his life-changing catheter ablation:

“On the drive home the following afternoon, I thought about all those years that I had spent….with all of the drugs, and all of the depressing hours, with all of the sacrifices, and all of the fear…nearly 15 years of it.
Then, my long-awaited PVI procedure. In a 2 day period of time, with little discomfort (and within my budget!) all of that might now be behind me.
Could I be so fortunate?
I feel a little foolish now, a little sheepish, that I had made such a big thing out of getting this procedure done.”

Life After His Ablation

In the ten months following his ablation, Mike writes that he only had two episodes early on and that he continues to take soaks in Epson salts once a week to keep his magnesium levels up.

He writes about his life now that it is free of A-Fib:

 “I do not take any blood thinners, and no heart medication whatsoever. In my 70’s now, I won’t be running any endurance races, and my conditioning level is too low for any serious handball (yet).
But my energy level is high enough that I live a very normal life. I am a hobby woodworker, and I typically spend anywhere from 4 to 6 hours a day in my shop. I walk, swim, cut wood, and, when nobody is looking…I dance.
“I walk, swim, cut wood, and, when nobody is looking…I dance.”
I understand that the A-Fibs might one day return, but I would have no hesitation in returning for a tune up if, or when, that day should ever arrive.”

―Mike Jones, Redding, CA, Now A-Fib free after an ablation using both CryoBalloon and RF methods 

A-Fib is a Progressive Disease

It’s really remarkable that Mike could live in paroxysmal A-Fib for 18 years and not progress to Persistent or Longstanding Persistent A-Fib. In one study over half the people who developed paroxysmal A-Fib turned Persistent after only one year. Perhaps Mike’s athleticism and fitness kept his A-Fib from getting worse.

In most people, A-Fib is a progressive disease that remodels the heart and gets worse over time. To avoid this happening to you, aim to be A-Fib free as soon as you can.

For more about Mike, read his A-Fib story, Triathlete 18 years in A-Fib, on Amiodarone for eight years―then A-Fib free after ablation by Dr. Padraig O’Neill.

For more A-Fib stories to encourage and inspire you, go to Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope.

How One Reader Detects if He’s in (Silent) A-Fib

Some people have A-Fib with no obvious symptoms. This can be dangerous, lead to a stroke and, over time, to a deteriorating heart. Many of these patients do a self-check during the day to monitor for an irregular pulse. Here’s another idea from a fellow A-Fib patient.

Taking Your Pulse

After reading our article, A-Fib Self-Care Skills: How to Check Your Heartbeat and Heart Rate, our reader, Frank, wrote us about how he goes beyond just a self-check to determine if he’s in A-Fib.

“I read your self-care skills articles and wanted to comment.
I check for when I’m in A-Fib very easily. I purchased a pulse oximeter. And whenever my reading is significantly above my normal resting pulse, then I know I’m in A-Fib. I don’t believe there’s any other reason for my resting heart rate to be elevated unless I’m in atrial fib.
A good oximeter is not very expensive at all, and it may be a very useful tool for others.”

Our thanks to Frank for sharing his advice.

How Pulse Oximeters Measure Pulse Rate

Masimo‘s MightySat fingertip pulse oximeter

Pulse oximeters are easily recognized by their associated clip-type probe which is typically applied to a patient’s finger. They are lightweight and intuitive to use.

When your heart beats, it pumps blood through your body. During each heartbeat, the blood gets squeezed into capillaries, whose volume increases very slightly. Between heartbeats, the volume decreases. This change in volume affects the amount of light (such as the amount of red or infrared light) that will transmit through your finger.

Though this fluctuation is very small, it can be measured by a pulse oximeter.

Not Just for Pulse Rates but Blood Oxygen Levels, Too

Measuring your blood oxygen saturation level (SpO2) is also important for A-Fib patients because a very low blood oxygen level puts a strain on your heart (and your brain).

Blood oxygen saturation

Using the same type of setup to measure pulse rate, an oximeter indirectly measures the amount of oxygen that is carried by your blood. By measuring the light that passes through the blood in your finger, your blood oxygen saturation level (SpO2) is calculated and expressed as a percentage.

Accuracy: The American Thoracic Society reports that the oxygen level from a pulse oximeter is reasonably accurate. The best reading is achieved when your hand is warm, relaxed, and held below the level of your heart. Most oximeters give a reading 2% over or 2% under what your saturation would be if obtained by an arterial blood gas test. (For example, if your oxygen saturation reads 92% on the pulse oximeter, it may be actually anywhere from 90 to 94%.)

Pulse Oximeters and Sleep Apnea 

Another application for a pulse oximeter. We’ve written about using a fingertip oximeter as an inexpensive way to check if you might have sleep apnea. A blood oxygen saturation level of 90% or lower means you should talk to your doctor, you may need a sleep study. For more, see Possible Sleep Apnea? Oximeter is DIY Way to Check your Blood’s Oxygen Level

Know Your Pulse Rate and Blood Oxygen Level

Starting at about $25, an assortment of pulse oximeters are available at Amazon.com and other retailers. One CE and FDA approved unit is the Pulse Oximeter Portable Digital Oxygen Sensor with SPO2 Alarm ($23).

On a personal note: As many of our readers know, I’ve been A-Fib free for 20 years. But nonetheless I often will check my pulse using an oximeter at night before going to sleep. Just as Frank describes, it’s very easy to do.

Amazon button with glowUse our A-Fib.com Amazon portal link and help support this website at no extra cost to you. Every purchase generates a small commission which we apply to the publishing costs of A-Fib.com. 

Bookmark and use every time you shop at Amazon.com.

Update: PVCs/PACs and My Medtronic Reveal LINQ Insertable Monitor

I’ve had my Medtronic Reveal LINQ insertable monitor since the middle of September. (See Has my A-Fib Returned?)  It has produced a lot of false positives. The other day, I visited my EP’s office and reviewed my LINQ data results with the nurse/Reveal LINQ specialist.

Steve Ryan: My Medtronic Reveal LINQ is inserted just under my skin near my heart: at A-Fib.com

My Medtronic Reveal LINQ is inserted just under my skin near my heart:

The LINQ data showed I had Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs) and Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs) which made my heart beat irregular but were not A-Fib.

No A-Fib for me: My data showed I always had the P wave component in my EKG signal—which is lost when one has Atrial Fibrillation.

Most PVCs/PACs benign: Most A-Fib doctors aren’t overly concerned about extra beats Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs) or Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs), because they are considered benign.

I’m not worried. Everybody gets PVCs and PACs, not just people with A-Fib.

Take a Look at My Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs)

When you look at my LINQ ECG signal (see excerpt below), notice how the PAC comes before one would expect a normal beat. The irregularities above the R wave indicate the signal is coming from atria above the ventricles and is a PAC.

PAC beats comes before one would expect a normal beat

…and a Look at My Premature Ventricle Contractions (PVCs)

When you look at another section of my ECG signal (see excerpt below), the R wave spikes are thicker and wider than the normal R waves indicating they are coming from the ventricles and are Premature Ventricle Contractions (PVCs).

PVCs: R wave spikes are thicker and wider than the normal

Detection Settings for A-Fib Only

To avoid false positives such as PACs and PVCs, the nurse adjusted the settings and sensitivity of the Reveal LINQ monitor to detect A-Fib only. (For Medtronic settings, see below.)

I will return to Dr. Doshi’s office in a month to see if these new setting are working properly. Look for my next update on data from my Medtronic Reveal LINQ insertable monitor.

ECG waveform diagram

ECG waveform diagram

Learn to Read Your ECG/EKG

An electrocardiogram, ECG (EKG), is used to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats, as well as the size and position of the chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart, and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart.

The ECG signal strip is a graphic tracing of the electrical activity of your heart.

To learn to read your own ECG/EKG signal, see Understanding the EKG Signal.

My Medtronic Reveal LINQ is inserted just under my skin near my heart: For you tech types, here are the new settings:

AT/AF Detection—On
Type—AF only
AF Detection—Balanced Sensitivity
Ectopy Rejection—Aggressive (this is probably the most important change in the settings)
AT/AF Recording Threshold—Episodes >= 60 min

A-Fib Self-Care Skills: How to Check Your Heartbeat and Heart Rate

Some Atrial Fibrillation patients know immediately when their heart is in A-Fib. They experience one or more symptoms including shortness of breath, palpitations, heart flutters, etc. Other A-Fib patients may have subtle symptoms (or silent A-Fib) and can’t be sure.

The following self-care skills will reassure you any time you suspect you’re in A-Fib—how to check for irregular heartbeat and how to tell if your heart rate is too fast or too slow.

Self-Check if Your Heartbeat is Regular or Irregular

I found an informative post with these self-care skill steps on the Scope Blog by Stanford University School of Medicine. To check whether your heartbeat is regular or irregular:

♥ Begin by placing your right hand on the left side of your chest while seated and leaning forward.
♥ Position your hand so that you feel your heartbeat most strongly with your fingertips.
♥ A normal heart rhythm should feel like a regular drum beat cadence; you can usually anticipate when each beat will come after the last beat.
♥ Because heart rate and the strength of the heartbeat can vary with breathing, sometimes holding your breath for a few seconds is helpful. With an irregular rhythm, it will be hard to predict when the next beat will come.
♥ In addition, some irregular beats will be softer (less strong) than other beats, so the strength as well as the timing may not be consistent.

Self-Check If Your Heart Rate is Too Fast or Too Slow

The Stanford blog continues with a second set of self-care skill steps—how to measure if your heart rate is too fast or too slow so you know when to seek medical care. (An optimal heart rate is 50–100 bpm when you are at rest.) To check your heart rate:

♥ Place your right hand over your heart so that you feel your heart beating under your fingertips.
♥ Use a watch or timer and count the number of beats for 15 seconds.
♥ Be sure to count all heartbeats; including beats that are not as strong or that come quickly following one another.
♥ Take the number of beats you’ve counted and multiply it by four. For example, if you count 30 beats in 15 seconds, then you would calculate 4 x 30 = 120 beats per minute.
♥ Repeat this process three times right away, writing down each heart rate to later share with your doctor.
Stethoscope and EKG tracing at A-Fib.com

While an Electrocardiograph (ECG or EKG) or Holter monitor are the only sure ways to document you are in A-Fib, you can use the above self-care skills to recognize A-Fib symptoms of an irregular heart beat or if beating too fast or too slow.

These skills with help you remain calm and confident when you suspect you may be in A-Fib.

Resource for this article
Stafford, R. Understanding AFib: How to measure your own heart rate and rhythm. Scope/Stanford Medicine, October 25, 2018. URL: https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2018/10/25/understanding-afib-how-to-measure-your-own-heart-rate-and-rhythm/

“Normal” Has a New Meaning for Jim After His Ablation

Before you developed Atrial Fibrillation, did you lead an active lifestyle? Has A-Fib robbed you of your energy and replaced it with fatigue? That’s what happened to Jim. After years of drug therapy that didn’t work, read how Jim recovered his active lifestyle post-ablation.

Three years after his ablation, Jim McGauley of Macclenny, FL, shared his personal A-Fib story with our A-Fib.com readers. His atrial fibrillation had been detected several years earlier but was not controlled effectively with drug therapy.

Jim underwent a catheter ablation in the summer of 2009. His procedure was performed without complications by Dr. Saumil Oza and his team at St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Bridgeport, CT.

He writes that, after a brief period of recuperation, he resumed normal activity.  In his story, After Years in A-Fib, New Energy and Improved Life, Jim shares: 

“Within a matter of days [of my ablation], I realized that “normal” had a new meaning.
I had lived with the atrial fibrillation for years, and it took the ablation and resulting corrected heart rhythm to bring about a marked surge in my energy level with less fatigue and an overall sense of “fitness”.
I have always maintained an active lifestyle, but post-ablation I was able to increase significantly my exercise regimen. I now run 2-3 miles three times a week and include modest weight training to keep my upper body toned.”
Jim McGauley, Publisher, The Baker County Press, Macclenny, FL. After failed drug therapy, now A-Fib free via catheter ablation.

Catheter Ablation Can Have Life-Altering Effects

Atrial Fibrillation patients seeking a cure and relief from their symptoms often have many questions about catheter ablation procedures. To learn more, see:

• VIDEO: When Drug Therapy Fails: Why Patients Consider Catheter Ablation (3:00 min., includes transcript)
• Treatments/Catheter Ablation
• Frequently Asked Questions: Catheter Ablation, Pulmonary Vein Isolation, CyroBalloon Ablation

About the ablation experience itself, Jim went on to share:

“The ablation itself is minimally invasive considering that it is correcting an abnormality inside the heart itself, and the recovery period was brief and generally comfortable.

I would readily recommend it… to anyone qualifying as a candidate to correct atrial fibrillation.”

―Jim McGauley, now A-Fib free after catheter ablation 

A-Fib Patients Ask: Which Brands of Vitamins and Minerals Can I Trust?

Supplements, minerals and vitamins are of interest to many A-Fib patients and are often discussed on this website. So, I wasn’t surprised when I received an email from Seila J. with this excellent question about purchasing supplements.

 “I don’t know what brand of vitamins and minerals to take. Is there a type of organization that inspects them and puts it on the label?”

In general, don’t look for much help from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the U.S. the FDA does not regulate natural products or supplements but does require that supplements be produced in a quality manner and ensure that they do not contain contaminants or impurities and are accurately labeled. Supplements are not allowed to be marketed for the purpose of treating, diagnosing, preventing, or curing diseases.

In the European Union, food supplements are regulated as foods. Learn more at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In Canada, see the Natural Health Product Regulation. In Australia, see the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990.

Independent Organizations Test and Certify Supplement Brands

In the U.S., there are several independent organizations that test branded supplements. Supplement manufacturers pay, on a voluntary basis, to get their supplements tested and certified (many supplement brands don’t participate so don’t carry any of these test lab seals).

The purpose of testing is to verify that the product contains the amount of the ingredient(s) advertised on the label and that it isn’t contaminated with dangerous substances, such as arsenic, bacteria, or lead.

ConsumerLab.com

ConsumerLab.com (CL) is a leading provider of independent test results and information to help identify the best quality health and nutrition products. CL has tested more than 5,600 products, representing over 850 different brands and nearly every type of popular supplement. Look for specific CL Seals to identify products that have met ConsumerLab.com standards.

CL tests products purchased from retail stores (not products supplied by the manufacturer/distributor). For the full list, see Brands Reviewed and Tested at ConsumerLabs.com.

ConsumerLab.com is probably the most useful site for the average consumer.

ConsumerLab.com is probably the most useful site for the average consumer. Though not every product produced by a specific brand has been tested and approved, the following brands are judged reliable and good choices when selecting a supplement. This is a partial list of the brands ConsumerLab has tested and rated:

Doctor’s Best, Dr. Sears, Dr. Whitaker, Garden of Life, iHerb, Integrative Therapeutics, Jarrow Formulas, Julian Whitaker, Life Extension, Metagenics, Natrol, Natural Factors, Nature Made, Now Foods, NutriCology, Nutritional Science, One-A-Day, Optimum Nutrition, Ortho Molecular Products, Perque, Physiologics, Pure Encapsulations, Puritan’s Pride, ReMag, Solaray, Source Naturals, Swanson, Thorne Research, TwinLab, VitaCost, Vitamin Shoppe.

Private brands: ConsumerLab also lists retails companies which sell supplements under their house or private brand including:

Albertsons, Costco, CVS, GNC, Herbalife, Kirkland, Kroger, Rexall, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, WalMart.

The Value of ConsumerLab.com Membership: There is much free information on the ConsumerLab.com website. But to access the comprehensive testing reports, ConsumerLab offers membership that gives you instant access to comprehensive, unbiased testing reports including quality ratings and CL’s Top Picks. (Testing reports contain information you can’t find anywhere else). Cost: $42/year or $69/2 years. Go to membership page.

Other Testing Organizations

US Pharmacopeia (USP) tests and certifies products provided by the manufacturer. They currently have certified only over 100 products which can be found on the USP website. Most products are from NatureMade and Kirkland Signature.

NSF International is an independent, accredited organization that tests and certifies products and writes standards for the food, water and consumer goods industries. Products that earn NSF certification will display “NSF certified” or “NSF listed”.

NSF Certification helps confirm that what’s on the label is in the product and that the product contains no unsafe levels of contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides. Certified For Sports products have also been tested for banned substances, which is particularly important for college and professional athletes.

The NSF search engine can be checked to see if a particular product is NSF certified. (I wasn’t able to find many products with NSF certification.)

Bottom Line About Brands

To select a brand of reliable supplement with the ingredient(s) and amounts as advertised on the label and not contaminated with dangerous substances, your best resource may be the Brands Reviewed and Tested at ConsumerLabs.com. (Read more at ConsumerLab Brands.)

Bonus: Recommended Sources for Reliable Info on Vitamins and Supplements

The three directories we recommend don’t sell supplements (or anything else). They just offer information on vitamins, herbs, natural products and supplements.

In our review of each database, we’ve included a screen shot and a link to our test search. To read our recommendations, go to: Our Top 3 Sources for Reliable, Unbiased Info on Vitamins and Supplements References

Resource for this article
Worth, Katie. Five Questions to Ask When Considering Health Supplements. Frontline, January 19, 2016. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/five-questions-to-ask-when-considering-health-supplements/

Stop Panic Attacks, Use the THOUGHTARREST Technique by Janco Vorster

Janco Vorster is a blogger who shares his heart arrhythmia journey at My Afib Heart. Diagnosed at age 24, he had his first anxiety attack a couple years later. Fear was his closest companion for a while. He writes, “Then as if sent from above I went to see a psychiatrist. He helped me to understand that I cannot be in control all the time.”

In his post, When Panic And Anxiety Wants to Take Over Your World, Janco describes his method for dealing with the anxiety that often accompanies Atrial Fibrillation. He writes that his THOUGHTARREST technique has not only helped him with his panic attacks, but its use and understanding has had a big impact in his life.

THOUGHTARREST

Stop Panic! Arrest Your Thoughts

1. DO NOT DENY OR SUPPRESS IT
Look deep into what you are really fearing in the thought or symptoms you are experiencing. Dismantle the thought.

2. WRITE IT DOWN, OR TALK ABOUT IT.
When you write down your thought you “capture” it. Write down how bad it is or was. Don’t sugarcoat it!

3. WRITE DOWN A “BETTER” STATEMENT.
If you get thoughts of “I cannot breathe” rather write down “I feel as if I cannot breathe but I am.”

4. UNMASK AND EXPOSE THE FALSE THOUGHT.
Now that you have your panic attack or anxiety thought pinned down on paper you can expose it as false, and relax.

WWW.MYAFIBHEART.COM

About Janco Vorster: He was born with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. After surgery as a child, his TOF (and an enlarged right atria), made him susceptible to heart arrhythmia. His A-Fib was diagnosed at age 24. After numerous cardioversions over several years, he had an ablation (followed by some intermittent episodes afterwards). He lives in South Africa and has been A-Fib free for several years. His blog is My Afib Heart.

Read the Janco Vorster post, “4 Steps Before You Do a THOUGHTARREST” at My Afib Heart. It’s based on a mixture of CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy), CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and his own experience with panic attacks.

Part II Framingham Study: Research Milestones in Heart Disease and Atrial Fibrillation

Now celebrating its 70th year, the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study of residents of the city of Framingham, MA, a small, middle-class community 23 miles west of Boston.

Starting in 1948, the objective of the Framingham Heart Study was to identify the common factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease by following its development over a long period of time. Participants would have no overt symptoms of heart disease and not suffered a heart attack or stroke. Today 15,447 people of varying ages, backgrounds and heritage are enrolled including second and third generations.

Findings Integral to Scientific Understanding A-Fib

The Framingham study has contributed greatly to our understanding of Atrial Fibrillation and to the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure. A few important milestones about A-Fib include:

1957    High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels increase likelihood of heart disease

1960    Cigarette smoking found to increase the risk of heart disease

1970    Atrial fibrillation increases stroke risk 5-fold

1982    Chronic atrial fibrillation associated with a doubling of overall mortality and of mortality from cardiovascular disease

1991    Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke

1994    Diabetes and hypertension risk factors for atrial fibrillation

2002    Obesity is a risk factor for heart failure

2009    New genetic variant associated with increased risk for atrial fibrillation

2010    Sleep apnea tied to increased risk of stroke

2010    Having first-degree relative with atrial fibrillation associated with increased risk

Framingham Research: Expect More Findings About Atrial Fibrillation

Framingham scientists circa 1948

Framingham data resources are available for researchers to use, and those data continue to spur new scientific discoveries. The study data has spawned over 3,600 published studies in medical, peer-reviewed journals.

As A-Fib patients, we owe a huge debt to the Framingham participants, doctors, scientists and researchers. With continuation of the Framingham Heart Study, we can expect more research findings about Atrial Fibrillation for years to come.

Resources for this article

• The Framingham Heart Study. Research Milestones. Accessed Oct. 22, 2018. https://www.framinghamheartstudy.org/fhs-about/research-milestones/

• Kannel, WB, et al. Epidemiologic Features of Chronic Atrial Fibrillation — The Framingham Study; N Engl J Med 1982; 306:1018-1022. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM198204293061703

• Wolf PA, et al. Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke: the Framingham Study.  Stroke.1991;22:983-988.

• Benjamin, EJ, et al. Independent Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation in a Population-Based Cohort; The Framingham Heart Study. JAMA. 1994;271(11):840-844. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510350050036

• Stewart, S. et al. A population-based study of the long-term risks associated with atrial fibrillation: 20-year follow-up of the Renfrew/Paisley study. The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 113, Issue 5, 1 October 2002, Pages 359-364. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9343(02)01236-6

Celebrating 70 Years of the Framingham Heart Study: Solving Mysteries of Heart Disease

When I first started researching my A-Fib back in 1998, I kept coming across research studies that credited its data to the Framingham Heart Study. I had no idea how influential the study has been to expanding our understanding of cardiovascular health.

The Framingham Heart Study (FHS) is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study of residents of the city of Framingham, MA, now celebrating its 70th year. The study was commissioned by the U.S. Congress and had been intended to last for only 20 years.

The Lifesaving Power of Scientific Research

Much of the now-common knowledge concerning heart disease, such as the effects of diet, exercise, smoking, good and bad cholesterol and high blood pressure is based on this longitudinal study. As well as far-reaching programs in stroke and Alzheimer’s.

Before the FHS, doctors had little sense of prevention.

“It’s no coincidence that deaths from heart disease have declined over the 70 years of this groundbreaking study.”
Nancy Brown, CEO, AHA

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said new approaches and therapies have sprung from Framingham’s work. “Framingham is living proof of the lifesaving power of scientific research. It’s no coincidence that deaths from heart disease have declined over the 70 years of this groundbreaking study.” 

The study has huge repositories of data, from cell lines and gene sequences to scanned images of the heart, brain, bone and liver.

“Every part of the body that can be measured, imaged or assessed, we’ve done so over the last 70 years,” said Dr. Vasan S. Ramachandran, principal investigator and director of the study for Boston University. “It’s a remarkable human experiment. It’s with humility I say that. It’s unbelievable, and to be part of it is a gift, a privilege and an honor.”

Framingham: The Study and the Town that Changed the Health of a Generation

Framingham doctors in 1948

The study began in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects (mostly white women and men) from Framingham, (about two-thirds of the town) and now has over 14,000 people from three generations.

Participants, and their children and grandchildren, voluntarily consented to undergo a detailed medical history, physical examination, and medical tests every two years, creating a wealth of data about physical and mental health, especially about cardiovascular disease.

Judie Saltonstall is one of them. She’s a second-generation participant who moved to Arizona 29 years ago and still faithfully logs on to her computer every three months to answer questionnaires and memory quizzes.

FHS participants live all over the country and travel back to Framingham whenever needed for exams and tests.

The 75-year-old is part of a contingent of FHS participants living all over the country who travel back to Framingham whenever needed for exams and tests. She reels off a list: retina photographs, bone density tests, and MRIs of the brain, heart and abdomen.

“It’s kind of exciting to do,” said Saltonstall, a mother of four and a former teacher. “It’s important for me personally, but also for them to know what’s going on with me and to learn from that, whatever good it does.”

Adding Different Segments (“Cohorts”)

In 1968, despite the recommendation to end the study as scheduled, Congress voted to continue it. Over the decades, the study had been split into different segments, or “cohorts”:

To study race and heritage in heart factors, The Omni Cohort (1994) asked people of color to volunteer; The Omni Two Cohort (2003) is the 2nd generation. 

The Original Cohort (1948)
Offspring Cohort, the second generation (1971)
The Omni Cohort asked people of color to volunteer to study race and heritage in heart factors (1994)
The Generation Three Cohort (2002)
The Omni Two Cohort, the second generation of Omni Cohort participants (as young as 13 years of age, 2003).

Landmark Study: Inspiring Thousands of Published Studies

Framingham, MA, circa 1948

It’s been 70 years since a small, middle-class community 23 miles west of Boston became the linchpin in helping to solve the mysteries of heart disease.

Framingham data resources are available for researchers to use, and those data continue to spur new scientific discoveries. FHS data has spawned over 3,600 published studies in medical, peer-reviewed journals. (Including many studies about Atrial Fibrillation, heart arrhythmias, and prevention of strokes).

The Framingham Heart Study is a joint project of the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and Boston University. Learn more at News on Framingham Heart Study.

As A-Fib patients, we owe a huge debt to the Framingham participants, doctors, scientists and researchers.

VIDEO: Framingham Heart Study: The First 70 YearsSee our library of videos about Atrial Fibrillation

Learn about the legacy of the Framingham Heart Study. Includes interviews with participants; current and historical photos and footage. 12:17 min. Go to video.

Be Proactive—Find the A-Fib Treatment Solution that Fits You Best

Advice from Patients Now Free from the Burden of Atrial Fibrillation

Joy G.

Joy Gray, Manchester, New Hampshire

“A-Fib tends to be a progressive disease, so taking an aggressive approach to treatment early on may be your best option.

Sheri Weber, Boyce, Virginia

Sheri Weber on A-fib.com

Sheri W.

“A-Fib hardly ever gets better. Be aggressive. Anger and determination led me to researching options. Find the solution that fits you best. Every case is different.
You can learn from others’ experiences, but you cannot determine what is best for your case unless you have all the facts, tests and personal goals in line.”

Michele S.

Michele Straub, Salt Lake City, Utah

“Do not take “this is as good as it gets” as an answer— do your own research about what’s possible and take a co-leadership role with your doctor.”

A-Fib Patient Stories: Learn from Others’ Experiences

Other A-Fib patients have been where you are right now. Dozens have shared their personal experience with our readers (starting with Steve Ryan’s story in 1998). Told in the first-person, many stories span years, even decades. Symptoms will vary, and treatments choices run the full gamut.

Each author tells their story to offer you hope, to encourage you, and to bolster your determination to seek a life free of A-Fib.

You can browse the many stories organized by categories such as age group, symptoms or treatment choice. Start at Personal A-Fib Stories by Subject Category.

Read how others learned to seek their A-Fib cure.


From The Top 10 List of A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice’ , a consensus of valuable advice from fellow Atrial Fibrillation patients; Chapter 12, Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure by Steve S. Ryan, PhD.

Go to Top 10 List of A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice
Please, share the advice ♥ 

Read Steve’s A-Fib Alerts for October 2018

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The A-Fib Alerts October 2018 issue is ready for you and presented in a condensed, easy-to-scan format.

This issue includes articles about beginner yoga for A-Fib patients, more research on coffee and caffeine, and how family history is linked with early-onset A-Fib…and more! Read it online today.

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Early-Onset A-Fib linked With Family History

Blacks and Hispanics/Latinos with A-Fib have higher rates of complications and even death as a result of A-Fib. This is despite research which shows that Blacks and Hispanics/Latinos are less likely than Whites to develop Atrial Fibrillation.

Although research of A-Fib in minority populations has been limited, researchers think they have unlocked one bit of the mystery.

Thanks to the development of a large, diverse registry of patients at the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers have been studying A-Fib in minority populations.

This study is unique because most prior studies on family history and A-Fib relied on data from mostly White populations, leaving doctors with little research to guide personalized treatment in minority communities.

A-Fib Registry of Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos and Whites: Of the 664 patients enrolled in UIC’s A-Fib registry at the time of the study, 40 percent were white, 39 percent were black and 21 percent were Latino, according to Dr. Dawood Darbar, professor of medicine and head of cardiology at the UIC College of Medicine.

Early-onset A-Fib refers to those younger than 60 years old when diagnosed.

Link with Early-Onset A-Fib diagnosis: The researchers found that there was a family history of A-Fib in 49 percent of patients who were diagnosed with early-onset A-Fib (EOAF), that is, in patients younger than 60 years of age―compared with only 22 percent of patients diagnosed with A-Fib later in life.

Monitoring First-Degree Relatives: This is the first research-based evidence that supports increased monitoring (even including genetic testing) of families who have first-degree relatives with early-onset A-Fib (EOAF) as a preventive measure against complications including strokes.

When broken down by race, the chance of a patient with early-onset A-Fib having a first-degree relative with the condition was more than two-and-a-half times more likely for Blacks and almost 10 times more likely for Latinos, compared with only two-and-a-half times more likely for Whites.

While more research is needed, these findings have important implications for identifying family members at risk for atrial fibrillation

“Many people with A-Fib do not know they have the condition until they present to the emergency room with a stroke,” said Dr. Darbar.

Hispanics/Latinos with early-onset A-Fib are almost 10 times more likely to have a first-degree relative with A-Fib.

What this Means to Patients

For patients diagnosed with early-onset A-Fib, a family history of A-Fib was found in 49 percent of patients. This research holds true across all three races, Whites, Blacks and Hispanics/Latinos.

If you have early-onset A-Fib (EOAF), that is, if younger than 60 years old when diagnosed, your family members should be monitored for A-Fib as a preventive measure against complications including stroke. This is especially true for Hispanics/Latinos.

Resource for this article
• Alzahrani Z, et al. Association Between Family History and Early-Onset Atrial Fibrillation Across Racial and Ethnic Groups. JAMA Network Open. 2018;1(5):e182497. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.2497

• AFib linked to family history in blacks, Latinos. UIC Today. September 21, 2018. https://today.uic.edu/afib-linked-to-family-history-in-blacks-latinos

After 5 Years A-Fib Free, Terry Shares “I Wish I Had Seen an EP Sooner Than I Did”

For over 15 years Terry Traver, Thousand Oaks, CA, suffered with A-Fib. At first, he’d have a 15-hour episode every three months or so. Over the years, though, his A-Fib progressed to persistent and severe to the point of being unable to work.

Sadly, during this time, he was never referred to a cardiologist (and certainly not to cardiac Electrophysiologist). Luckily, a friend put him in touch with a clinical electrophysiologist (EP). In March 2012, he had a successful catheter ablation with a touch-up ablation the following July.

Terry’s Lessons Learned

Terry Traver’s regrets

After being A-Fib free for five years, Terry shared his A-Fib story with our A-Fib.com readers. His ‘Lessons Learned’ include these two regrets:

• I would have had the ablation much sooner. No G.P. [family doctor] ever mentioned ablation as an option. I only heard about it from a friend!

• I had never heard of an electrophysiologist (EP), and wish I had seen one sooner.

Finding the Right Doctor for You

I’m still amazed when an A-Fib patient tells me their family doctor didn’t refer them to a cardiologist, and more importantly, to a cardiac Electrophysiologist.

GP, cardiologist or EP?

Consult the right type of cardiologist: Most cardiologists deal with the vascular or pumping functions of the heart (think ‘plumber’). But Atrial Fibrillation is a problem with the electrical function of your heart (think electrician).

It’s important for A-Fib patients to see a cardiac Electrophysiologist (EP)—a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical activity of the heart and in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

Educate yourself on treatment options: It’s so important for patients to educate themselves to receive the best treatment. Terry writes that in his 15 years with A-Fib, his GP never referred him to a cardiologist or an EP. Thank goodness a friend stepped in to help him.

Urgency! A-Fib is a Progressive Disease

The longer you wait, the worse A-Fib tends to get. Look at Terry’s story. His disease progressed to Persistent Atrial Fibrillation and was incapacitating.

To learn how to find the right doctor, go to our page: Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your Treatment Goals.

‘A Patient Cured is a Customer Lost’ & Other Facts About Big Pharma

Did you know drug companies spend twice as much on marketing and advertising as on researching and developing new drugs? (I was shocked.)

Of special interest to me is the ‘Direct to Consumer’ drug advertising which has significantly increased drug sales in the U.S.

‘Direct to Consumer’ drug advertising is so misleading that it is banned in all countries except two: the U.S. and New Zealand. (No wonder that 70% of drug companies’ profit comes from the U.S.)

Misleading Drug Ads

To be specific, I hate those misleading TV commercials that target A-Fib patients. What these ads for anticoagulants don’t tell you is:

• You are on their meds for life! (they want lifelong customers!)
• These meds do nothing to treat your A-Fib (only your risk of stroke)
• A-Fib can be cured (you don’t have to be on meds for the rest of your life)

These ads for anticoagulant medications imply that if you just take their pill once a day, you’ve taken care of your A-Fib. Wrong! Don’t fall for the hype.

Bad Pharma—How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors & Harm Patients

The author of Bad Pharma does an excellent job of shining a light on the truths that the drug industry wants to stay hidden.

Bad Pharma by Ben GoldacreThose truths include how they mislead doctors and the medical industry through sales techniques, and manipulate consumers into becoming life-long drug customers. (For doctors, that industry influence begins in medical school and continues throughout their practice.)

We also learn truths about the internal workings of the medical academia, the U.S. FDA, and medical journals publishing.

The arguments in the book are supported by research and data made available to the reader. The author, Ben Goldacre, is a doctor and science journalist, and advocates for sticking to the scientific method, full disclosure and advocating for the interest of the patients. Read a critical review of Bad Pharma in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

My Best Advice: ‘Educate Yourself’

One of our tenets at A-Fib.com, is ‘Educate Yourself’! if you want to be a more savvy consumer of health care services (I highly recommend Bad Pharma. I also recommend Ben Goldacre’s other book, Bad Science).

Bonus Idea: If you pair this book withKnow Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics by Steven Woloshin, you’ll have a complete course on how the drug industry skillfully markets their products. Read my review.

Read the book for FREE: The ebook version is online at U.S. National Library of Medicine PubMedHealth, and you can download the .PDF version (remember to save to your hard drive).

See my post: How Big Pharma Issues Misleading News and Why it Matters.

Features the report by the online watchdog group HealthNewsReview.org.

 

Don’t Settle for a Lifetime on Medications—

Seek your A-Fib Cure

More Research on Coffee (& Caffeine)! Could it Actually Help Prevent A-Fib?

Yes—another study about coffee and Atrial Fibrillation.

A retrospective study from Australia included 228,465 subjects. Researchers found that drinking coffee lowered atrial fibrillation occurrence. Regular coffee drinkers had a 6% average reduction in A-Fib. While heavy coffee drinkers had a 16% reduction. How do they explain this? Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a compound that can facilitate A-Fib.

Conclusion: In this one study, researchers found that coffee doesn’t increase abnormal heart rhythms—but helps prevent them.

Coffee and the Bottom Line for A-Fib Patients

Needless to say, the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant. And we don’t all react to stimulants the same way.

Caffeine is the most popular drug in the United States and the least regulated one.

Remember, A-Fib is not a “one-size fits all” disease. Contrary to this research, coffee or caffeine may trigger or worsen your A-Fib. So, you may want to start (or continue) avoiding caffeinated beverages until your A-Fib is cured.

For some, drinking coffee regularly (including me) may have no ill effects. This research suggests coffee and caffeine may actually help prevent A-Fib.

How Much Caffeine is There in the Food and Beverages you Consume?

Caffeine is not a nutrient but a drug that is a mild stimulant of the central nervous system. Like any drug, the effects of caffeine on the body are not wholly good or bad. For an extensive list of how much caffeine there is in the food and beverages you consume, go to Caffeine Effects, Half-Life, Overdose, Withdrawal

Illustration credit: NutritionsReview.com

Resource for this article
• Life Extension. Coffee May Help Prevent Arrhythmia. November 2018, P. 21.

• Voskoboinik, A. et al. Caffeine and Arrhythmias: Time to Grind the Data. JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, Volume 4, Issue 4, April 2018. http://electrophysiology.onlinejacc.org/content/4/4/425?_ga=2.195692140.1103642825.1538971476-336263164.1535661225 DOI: 10.1016/j.jacep.2018.01.012.

• Katan, M, Schouten, E. Caffeine and arrhythmia1,2,3. Am J Clin Nutr March 2005 vol. 81 no. 3 539-540. Last accessed November 5, 2012 http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/81/3/539

• Rashid, Abdul et al. “The effects of caffeine on the inducibility of Atrial fibrillation.” J Electrocardiol. 2006 October, 39(4): 421-425. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2257921/

• Barclay, L. Caffeine Not Associated With Increased Risk of Atrial Fibrillation. Mar 10, 2005. Medscape News Today. Last accessed November 5, 2012. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/501279?src=search

Part 2: Has My A-Fib Returned? 21 Day Results from My Medtronic Reveal LINQ loop recorder

In Part 1, Steve describes how during a recent medical exam, one of his doctors (not a cardiologist) detected an irregular heart beat. Steve didn’t feel any symptoms but went to see his EP who checked him over and found no A-Fib. 

But, just to be sure, his EP implanted a tiny wireless heart monitor so he can review Steve’s heart activity over time. Go here to read our first post.

21 Days of Data with my Medtronic Reveal LINQ ICM

Section of Steve’s ECG

After having worn the Medtronic Reveal LINQ loop recorder for 3 weeks, I went in to check my results with my EP, Dr. Shephal Doshi, at Pacific Heart in Santa Monica, CA. (Reports are sent wirelessly each night by the bedside transmitter.)

The monitor report was saying I was having multiple A-Fib attacks, though I didn’t feel anything. When Dr. Doshi did an EKG of me, I was in perfect sinus. He suspected the monitor or I might be producing false positives.

Steve & his CAM

I Get a 7-Day Carnation Ambulatory Monitor, Too

To check the accuracy of the LINQ monitor, he gave me a Carnation Ambulatory Monitor (CAM) to wear for a week. It’s similar to a Zio Patch, but is stuck vertically along my sternum.

For the next 7 days I should avoid immersing the device in water. I was told I could take a shower, but I am being cautious and just taking sponge baths.

I’m supposed to keep a log of when I eat meals, exercise, drink any alcohol, and include any A-Fib symptoms. If I do feel symptoms, I’m to press the button on the monitor. So far, I haven’t had any occasion to press the button. I’ll return the monitor to Dr. Doshi’s office in a week.

Monitoring the Monitor

Carnation Ambulatory Monitor

Reveal LINQ loop recorder

Since the LINQ monitor is still actively collecting data, my EP can compare the LINQ results with the results collected by the Carnation Ambulatory Monitor. Hopefully, Dr. Doshi will find no occurrences of A-Fib (just false positives).

I’ll write more when I have something to report.

Have you worn a Carnation Ambulatory Monitor? Email with your experience.

 

Atrial Fibrillation Patients: Team with Your Doctor—Be Your Own Patient Advocate

Advice from Patients Free of the Burden of Atrial Fibrillation

Charn Deol, Richmond, BC, Canada. Now A-Fib free after 23-years with Atrial Fibrillation, reflects on the doctor-patient relationship:

Personal A-Fib story by Charn Deol, BC, Canada at A-Fib.com

Charn Deol, BC, Canada

“As a patient, the relationship is somewhat like that of a child with a parent. The patient is naïve, scared, distraught and looking for a path of reassurance from the medical profession.This was not the case in this situation.

“My gut said to ‘no longer trust’ this supposed best electrophysiologist at the hospital”.

This is when “gut instincts” come into play. My gut said to ‘no longer trust’ this supposed best electrophysiologist at the hospital and search for an alternative path. (This is another cardiologist I dropped.)…

From this experience I’ve learned to obtain as much knowledge as possible of your condition. Trust your gut feelings if you feel uncomfortable with your doctor.”

Tony Hall, Evansville, IN. Now A-Fib-free: he shares about learning he had A-Fib along with his wife’s best advice:

Tony & Jill

I sat there for probably 40 minutes waiting for my A-Fib to convert back to normal sinus rhythm, but it would not. The EP agreed to release me with prescriptions for Xarelto and Metoprolol, and a non-driving restriction.

As we drive away and I sit in the passenger seat feeling like a pet heading to a kennel. Suddenly things are different. I no longer have that “healthy as a horse” attitude. …

As we drive away and I sit in the passenger seat feeling like a pet heading to a kennel.”

Learning About A-Fib. Anyway, I took the meds for a few days and read as much as I could on the internet about this condition I have now called Atrial Fibrillation.

My wife spent at least as much time as I doing her own research. We are soon better informed but in many scattered directions. 

My Wife Knew! While she was very concerned and extremely supportive, she knew that until I became my own advocate, that I would not pursue the most effective path to addressing and dealing with this condition. She was right there.

I started doing more research through the help of Steve’s book, and found comfort in the education about the variety of heart rhythm conditions, treatment options, testimonials, personal stories, etc… .”

Michele Straube, Salt Lake City, Utah, cured after 30 years in A-Fib, encourages you to be more active in your own treatment plan:

Michele S.

“Do not take ‘this is as good as it gets’ as an answer.”

“My experience with cardiologists was hit and miss. Early on I was told that they had never seen someone so young with A-Fib (at the time, I was in my mid-20’s). 

Some told me the best they could do was medicate me so I could walk from the bed to the window and back. I changed doctors.

Best advice: Do not take ‘this is as good as it gets’ as an answer—do your own research about what’s possible. Take a co-leadership role with your doctor.”

For More Personal Insights

It’s encouraging to read how someone else has dealt with their A-Fib. These A-Fib patients have been where you are right now. They tell their stories to help bolster your determination to seek a life free of A-Fib.

For more personal experiences, go to Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope and Encouragement.

Team with Your Doctor—Be Your Own Patient Advocate

Atrial Fibrillation Patients: Guide on How to Get Started with Yoga

In our article, FAQs about Natural Therapies: Yoga and A-Fib, Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy describes his research with A-Fib patients and how yoga provides a powerful connection between mind and body. “It affects heart rhythm through its significant influence on the [nervous system].” It improves symptoms and arrhythmia burden, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves quality of life (QoL).

Yoga can be adjusted to any level or intensity. Just start slowly! It doesn’t need much equipment: a mat to prevent slipping and provide padding and perhaps a folded blanket, when needed, to support your knees.

Dr. Lakkireddy cautions that yoga isn’t a substitute for medical treatment, but it can be a good adjunct.

Beginner’s Yoga Guide for A-Fib Patients

We found a great article, Yoga for Atrial Fibrillation, on EverydayHealth.com that offers a beginner’s yoga guide for A-Fib patients.

To get you started, they include directions for seven simple poses each with an illustration. Here’s an example of the instructions:

Yoga for Atrial Fibrillation: Table Pose
This pose helps you warm up and is a starting position for other yoga moves. How to do it:
1. Come to the floor on your hands and knees. Bring the knees hip-width apart, with feet directly behind the knees. Bring palms directly under the shoulders with fingers facing forward.

Photo credit: yogabasics.com

2. Look down between the palms and allow the back to be flat. Press into the palms to drop the shoulders slightly away from the ears. Press tailbone toward the back wall and the crown of the head toward the front wall to lengthen spine.
3. Breathe deeply and hold for 1-3 breaths. 
Special considerations: Place a blanket under the knees to protect them from pressure and stress. Make fists with your hands to reduce pressure on the wrists. Avoid this pose if you’ve had recent or chronic knee or hip injury or inflammation.

For the other six poses and to read the entire article, go to Yoga for Atrial Fibrillation at EverydayHealth.com. According to YogaBasics.com: “By concentrating on your breathing and being present in the poses, you’ll feel the benefits immediately.”

For Atrial Fibrillation patients, yoga can be an effective complementary therapy and a part of your A-Fib treatment plan. Also see our article, FAQs about Natural Therapies: Yoga and A-Fib.

Always consult your doctor before starting a yoga exercise program. For example, if you have high blood pressure, you may need to avoid yoga poses in which your head and heart are lower than the rest of your body, such as the Downward-Facing Dog.

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners
by H. David Coulter, PhD

Resource for this article
Lakkireddy, D., et al. Effect of Yoga on Arrhythmia Burden, Anxiety, Depression, and Quality of Life in Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation. Journal of the American College of Cardiology Mar 2013, 61 (11) 1177-1182; doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2012.11.060

Yoga for Atrial Fibrillation. EverydayHealth.com. Last updated: 11/14/2017.  https://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health/atrial-fibrillation/yoga-atrial-fibrillation/

Wahlstrom, M, et al. Effects of yoga in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation—a randomized controlled study. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. Vol 16, Issue 1, pp. 57 – 63. March 14, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1177/1474515116637734

Selecting the Right Doctor: the Plumber vs. the Electrician

Start with the Right Doctor for You

To be cured of your Atrial Fibrillation, you need to hire the right doctor.

Seek a heart rhythm specialist, a cardiac electrophysiologist (EP), who will partner with you to create a treatment plan—a path to finding your cure or best outcome.

To make this happen, see my page, Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib.

Warren W.

In his A-Fib story, Warren Welsh of Melbourne, Australia, offers other A-Fib patients this advice:

“I would urge any A-Fib sufferers not to make the same mistakes I did…I experienced several years of unnecessary suffering by accepting an opinion of one specialist who said I would have to live in A-Fib.”

To Seek Your Cure—Hire the Right Doctor

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