The 2016 Get in Rhythm, Stay in Rhythm™ Atrial Fibrillation Patient Conference will be September 16-18 at the Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel in Dallas, TX. For further info and to register, visit the Get in Rhythm, Stay in Rhythm conference website.
Hosted by Mellanie True Hills, Founder and CEO of StopAfib.org, the Get in Rhythm, Stay in Rhythm™ Atrial Fibrillation Patient Conference is designed to give you the tools and information you need to take care of yourself, and to communicate effectively with your doctors and other healthcare professionals. Confirmed topics are listed in the “Agenda”. For presenters, go to the Get in Rhythm, Stay in Rhythm website and hover over each faculty photo.
Costs: Admission is $127–$157 (Early Bird rate) Special hotel rate is $119/night (normally up to $289/night). This special rate is good from 3 days before until 3 days after the conference (so you can vacation in Dallas before/after the conference).
Event Sponsors: The conference is made possible with support from industry sponsors including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Janssen, Boston Scientific and Medtronic. Co-sponsors include Heart Rhythm Society, MyAFibExperience.org and Health eHeart. Promotional partners include Alliance for Aging Research, American Sleep Apnea Association, WomenHeart.org and National Blood Clot Alliance.
We are proud to announce, for the third year, A-Fib.com has been named to the Healthline.com list of the ‘Best Atrial Fibrillation Blogs’. Atrial Fibrillation: Resources for Patients (A-Fib.com) is one of a ten websites selected for special recognition by the Healthline.com Marketing Team.
Of the ten heart health websites, A-Fib.com is one of only four websites dedicated exclusively to Atrial Fibrillation patient education. The other three are ‘Atrial Fibrillation by Dr. John M’ (Dr. John Mandrola), ‘Living with Atrial Fibrillation’ (by our friend, Travis Van Slooten) and ‘Stop A-Fib Atrial Fibrillation Blog’.
About Healthline: Healthline.com is the fastest growing consumer health information site — with 65 million monthly visitors. Their goal: “Healthline’s mission is to be your most trusted ally in your pursuit of health and well-being.”
From the Healthline.com article:
“We’ve carefully selected these blogs because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high quality information…new medical research, personal stories, and helpful advice.”
Visit Healthline’s The 10 Best A-Fib Blogs of 2016 to review all ten winners.
OUR MISSION: A-Fib.com offers hope and guidance to empower patients to find their A-Fib cure or best outcome. We are your unbiased source of well-researched information on current and emerging Atrial Fibrillation treatments.
A-Fib patients around the world are reading the A-Fib Alerts May 2016 issue.
Special Signup Bonus: Subscribe HERE and receive discounts codes to save up to 50% off my book, Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to finding Your Cure by Steve S. Ryan, PhD.
Most of us have seen an episode or two of a TV medical talk show, like the Dr. Oz Show. Have you wondered if the health recommendations are accurate and fact-based?
A group of general practitioners had the same question. So, they analyzed over 40 episodes of the popular American TV shows, ‘The Dr Oz’s Show’ and ‘The Doctors’, to see if health claims were evidence-based.
Published in The British Medical Journal, the study results were alarming.
Can You Trust the Claims of TV Doctors?
The research doctors were concerned when their patients would say: ‘I was watching TV and I saw a recommendation that I should be taking this medication (or this supplement or have this test).’ Or, ‘I’ve started taking this supplement because it was recommended on this particular medical show.’
Dr. Christine Korownyk, the lead researcher said, as doctors, “we were left scrambling thinking ‘what is the evidence for that? Is this something you should be doing?’ So we thought we should go ahead and systematically look at these shows on television.”
The main goals were to assess the accuracy of the reporting (was it evidence-based), if the recommendations were ‘best practice’ and if the doctors’ claims were unbiased (no conflicts of interest).
Are the Health Claims Evidence-Based?
The findings were somewhat disturbing. One third to one half of what was discussed and recommended on these programs had NO scientific basis.
• For recommendations in The Dr Oz Show, evidence supported 46%, contradicted 15%, and was not found for 39%.
• For recommendations in The Doctors, evidence supported 63%, contradicted 14%, and was not found for 24%.
• On average, The Dr Oz Show had 12 recommendations per episode, and The Doctors had 11 recommendations.
What this Means to Patients
You should be skeptical about claims made on medical talk shows.
The public should be skeptical about claims made on medical talk shows.
For a more in-depth look at this study, read the ConsumerAffairs.com article: Study: Less than half of Dr. Oz’s recommendations are actually supported by evidence.
Magnesium information for A-Fib patients. We’ve two videos to our A-Fib Video Library featuring Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, talking about magnesium deficiency and calcium overload:
“The Best Way to Supplement Magnesium” with Dr. Carolyn Dean. Getting nutrients through food is not always possible; discusses side effects of too much Mg and how you can tell if you have a deficiency.(3:39) Go to video. From iHealthTube.com.
“Importance of Balancing Calcium & Magnesium”. Dr. Dean discusses the importance of balancing your intake of magnesium and calcium (2:1); the benefits of both and why you need to have both in the body; the problem of ‘calcium overload’. (2:30) Go to video. From iHealthTube.com.
If you visit our “About Us” page, you can read about how Steve started A-Fib.com after researching and finding his own cure.
Among other things, you will also find the A-Fib.com mission statement. It summarizes what we do and why.
The A-Fib Mission
A-Fib.com offers hope and guidance to empower patients to find their A-Fib cure or best outcome. A-Fib.com is the patient’s unbiased source of well-researched information on current and emerging Atrial Fibrillation treatments.
Integrity and an Unbiased Viewpoint
To maintain our independence and unbiased viewpoint and integrity, A-Fib.com is deliberately not affiliated with any medical school, device manufacturer, pharmaceutical company, HMO, or medical practice. We accept no third-party advertising, do not charge for inclusion in our Directory of Doctors & Facilities and accept no fee (cash or other kind) for a listing in Steve’s Lists of Doctors by Specialty.
Not many healthcare websites or patient education sites can make those claims.
Join Us! Support the A-Fib.com Mission
If you would like to support our mission, you can refer others to our website, you can bookmark and use the A-Fib.com Amazon.com portal link to shop, or make a donation towards our monthly publishing expenses.
Fall and Winter brings use of many a fireplace and a reminder for those with A-Fib. The tiny particles generated when you burn wood can inflame and damage blood vessels and may trigger arrhythmias, according to Dr. Robert A. Kloner. If you have A-Fib you may want to avoid wood-burning fireplaces and stoves.
In general you may want to also avoid campfires, bonfires, trash or leaf burning, etc.
If you live in communities with a lot of wood-burning stoves, you may want to use a HEPA air purifier in your home. If you are a guest and can’t avoid a wood-burning fireplace, sit as far away as possible or wear a face mask like your dentist wears (mine gave me a bunch for free). If you have a fireplace, consider installing an electric or other non-wood burning insert.
Reference: Kloner, Robert A. ‘Tis the Season…For Heart Attacks. Bottom Line Health, Volume 28, Number 12, December 2014.
Are you a writer? Are you passionate about an A-Fib topic or issue? Why not share your insights with our A-Fib.com readers? We welcome guest writers!
For examples of guest articles, check out Lyn Haye’s Obesity in Young Women Doubles Chances of Developing A-Fib and Frances Koepnick’s “Patient Review: AliveCor Heart Monitor for SmartPhones“.
If you’re interested in being an A-Fib.com guest writer (or just have questions), send Steve an email. Do it NOW!
Do you write about Atrial Fibrillation? Got a newsletter or blog? Want to reprint or quote from one of our A-Fib.com articles? You no longer have to write and ask permission. The content on this website is now licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license allows re-distribution and re-use of A-Fib.com licensed content on the conditions that Steve S. Ryan and A-Fib.com are appropriately credited, a link is provided to A-Fib.com and that any derivative work is made available under “the same, similar or a compatible license”.
The last part means you can remix, transform, or build upon the material, but you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original i.e., CC Attribution Share-Alike license. (As a courtesy, email us if you use our A-Fib.com content!)
Help spread the word: A-Fib can be cured!
I’ve updated and expanded the answer to a Frequently Asked Question about recurrence of your A-Fib after a successful ablation:
I think your chances of staying A-Fib free are pretty good.
A PVI is Like a Kind of Immunization Against A-Fib
If your Pulmonary Veins (PV) are well isolated and stay that way, you can’t get A-Fib there again. When the PVs are isolated and disconnected and haven’t reconnected, it seems to be permanent. But it’s too early in the history of PVA(I)s to say this definitively.
NOTE: PVA(I) is a relatively new procedure. I had my catheter ablation in 1998 and I’m still A-Fib free today. However, at that time of my ablation, only one of my Pulmonary Veins was isolated, so in theory, the other veins could start producing A-Fib signals—but that hasn’t happened.
Regrowth/Reconnection of Ablated Heart Tissue
There is a tendency for ablated heart tissue to heal itself, regrow the ablated area, reconnect, and start producing A-Fib signals again. But if this happens, it usually occurs within the first three to six months of the initial PVA(I).
Recent research indicates that for a small number of people, a successful Pulmonary Vein Ablation (Isolation) procedure may not be a permanent “cure.” Dr. Francis Marchlinski of the University of Pennsylvania…read the rest of Steve answer.
In our new FREE 12-page Report, How & Why to Read Your Operating Room Report, we examine the actual O.R. report of the catheter ablation of Travis Van Slooten, publisher of Living With Atrial Fibrillation performed by Dr. Andrea Natale, Austin, TX.
What is an O.R. Report?
An O.R. report is written by the electrophysiologist who performed the catheter ablation. It contains a detailed account of the findings, the procedure used, the preoperative and postoperative diagnoses, etc.
It’s a very technical document. Because of this, it’s usually given to a patient only when they ask for it.
New Report: How & Why to Read Your Operating Room Report
In our new FREE 12-page Report: How & Why to Read Your Operating Room Report, I make it easy (well, let’s say ‘easier’) to learn how to read an O.R. report.
Along with an introduction, I’ve annotated every technical phrase or concept so you will understand each entry. I then translate what each comment means and summarize Travis’ report.
Read more at: Special Report How & Why to Read Your Operating Room Report.
Tip: If you’ve had an ablation, ask for your O.R. Report. If you or a loved one is planning a catheter ablation, make a note to yourself to ask for the O.R. report.
Do your loved ones know how to help you during an A-Fib episode? That’s the topic of this email we received from the spouse of an A-Fib patient:
“My husband’s A-Fib is getting worse. When should I call Emergency and/or take him to the hospital? I’m petrified with fear for him. Our doctors say don’t worry unless he shows signs of a heart attack or stroke.”
For your family’s peace of mind, you need to create an ‘A-Fib Action Plan’. During an A-Fib episode, having an action plan is reassuring to you and your loved ones, and helps everyone stay calm.
Your A-Fib Action Plan
To develop your A-Fib Action Plan, you need to team up with your doctor. Discuss the following. You should know:
• When to contact your doctor’s office
• Your doctor’s cell number and email address for emergencies
• What symptoms or criteria should send you to the emergency room
• When at the ER, if you should call your doctor
• When at the ER, if your doctor will call and talk with the ER staff
• When you should “just ride out” the episode
• How to recognize the signs of stroke
Write Up and Post Your Plan
Write up the answers to these questions. Add other helpful information, i.e., name of your local Emergency Room, directions, map, and phone numbers, etc. Store the original of your A-Fib Action Plan in your A-Fib binder or folder.
Post a copy in a prominent place your family can find easily. Discuss your A-Fib Action Plan with your loved ones and answer their questions.
Consider: What about your workplace? Should you discuss your Action Plan with your co-workers as well? Should you post a copy at work?
Be Confident & Stay Calm
During an A-Fib attack, an A-Fib Action Plan with specific steps is reassuring and helps everyone stay calm. Your family will be confident they’re supporting you in taking the right action at the right time.
Note: If your doctor is reluctant to develop a specific action plan or your Atrial Fibrillation is getting worse, it may be time to change doctors.
Have a Contribution to Make?
Do you have ideas for other content that should be included in an A-Fib Action Plan? I welcome your input. Send me an email with your thoughts.
The FDA granted “accelerated approval” to Praxbind®, a reversal agent (antidote) to Pradaxa®. Praxbind is given intravenously to patients who have uncontrolled bleeding or require emergency surgery.
The accelerated approval program is designed to provide patients with earlier access to new drugs.
Pradaxa (dabigatran), a novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC), reduces the risk of clots and stroke in patients with Atrial Fibrillation. The new NOACs are alternatives to warfarin (Coumadin).
Patients on Pradaxa Were Bleeding to Death in the ER
Patients on Pradaxa have been bleeding to death in the ER while doctors were powerless to stop their bleeding and could only watch them die. See Stop Prescribing or Taking Pradaxa.
In clinical trials, 5gs of Praxbind (idarucizumab) reversed the anticoagulant effect of Pradaxa within minutes (which is significantly faster than the current antidotes for warfarin). In one ongoing trial, the anticoagulant effect of Pradaxa was fully reversed in 89% of patients within four hours. This effect lasted at least 24 hours.
Praxbind works by binding to Pradaxa to neutralize its effect (measured as unbound Pradaxa plasma concentration). The most common side effects of Praxbind were headache, low potassium, confusion, constipation, fever and pneumonia.
Boehringer Ingelheim (a privately-held German company), which manufactures both Pradaxa and Praxbind, will be required to submit additional clinical information after approval to confirm the clinical benefit of Praxbind.
After Praxbind, Get Back on Anticoagulants ASAP!
Boehringer Ingelheim recommends that patients resume their anticoagulant therapy as soon as medically appropriate. In the clinical trials of Praxbind, five patients suffered strokes after reversal. They were not receiving anticoagulant therapy at the time of their stroke.
Other NOACs Will Soon Have a Reversal Agent
Pradaxa was the first NOAC to win FDA approval, but now there are three other new anti–blood clotting drugs available to doctors and patients.
Despite its newly approved reversal agent, Pradaxa’s advantage over the other NOACs will probably be short lived.
• Xarelto® (rivaroxaban) by Bayer Pharma/Janssen Pharmaceuticals
• Eliquis® (apixaban) by Pfizer/Bristol-Meyers Squibb (tested the best with the best safety record)
• Lixiana®/Savaysa® (edoxaban) by Daiichi-Sankyo (newest NOAC to be approved by the FDA)
Despite its newly approved reversal agent, Pradaxa’s advantage over the other NOACs will probably be short lived.
The A-Fib Alerts October 2015 issue is out and includes news on Pradaxa’s new ‘Reversal Agent’ getting FDA ‘Accelerated Approval’, case studies about Testosterone curing A-Fib in aging men and medical technology giant Medtronic acquiring CardioInsight Technologies, developer of the ECVUE mapping and ablation system. And much more!
Read our monthly newsletter—Steve’s A-Fib Alerts. Sent directly to your email box, our A-Fib Alerts is presented in a condensed, easy-to-scan format. Read the latest issue. Even better—have our A-Fib Alerts sent directly to you via email. Click to Subscribe.
Medical technology giant Medtronic has acquired CardioInsight Technologies, developer of the ECVUE mapping and ablation system. CardioInsight will become part of the Medtronic Atrial Fibrillation Solutions business in the Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure division.
Mapping and ablation systems are critical to the advancements in catheter ablation techniques and improving A-Fib patient outcomes.
During a standard catheter ablation, doctors use a special mapping catheter that has to be positioned inside the heart to map and identify A-Fib producing spots in the heart.
But the new Noninvasive Electrocardiographic Imaging (ECGI) system does not go inside the heart, but instead uses a vest-like device which a patient wears to image the inside of the heart and to pinpoint sites in the heart producing A-Fib signals.
VIDEO: See the animation of the ECVUE vest technology at the bottom of the CardioInsight page (just wait a second or two for it to load).
The ECVUE system has been in trials with more than 1,400 patients, mostly in Europe, (US clinical trials have been limited). It has also been featured in more than 120 peer reviewed journals and presentations. It’s being very carefully tested and slowly brought to market primarily by Dr. Michel Haissaguerre and the French Bordeaux Group.
What Patients Need To Know
It certainly looks like the ECVUE mapping and ablation system will be a game changer for A-Fib patients, especially for those with persistent A-Fib, usually the hardest to cure. See my 2013 AF Symposium report: Non-Invasive Electrocardiographic Imaging (ECGI).
But it’s been frustrating for patients in the US since the testing is being done at multiple centers in Europe. However, one would expect this would change soon with Medtronic buying CardioInsight.
The careful and deliberate testing and marketing approach of ECVUE contrasts with the introduction of the competing FIRM system from Topera Medical. Though FIRM was first on the market and has received great PR in many newspapers and media outlets throughout the US, clinical studies have raised performance issues
ECVUE vs. FIRM
I predict that the ECVUE mapping and ablation system will soon be predominate throughout the world.
For more about the two competing mapping and ablation systems, see my 2014 AF Symposium article: ECGI vs. FIRM: Direct Comparison, Phase/Waveform Mapping
Why? Magnesium used to be plentiful in fruits, vegetable and grains, but decades of industrial-scale farming have stripped the soil of minerals like magnesium.
One study found that the nutrient content of crops has declined by as much as 40% since the 1950s. “It’s now is almost impossible to get adequate amounts of magnesium from food.”
At least 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium consuming only about 270 mg of magnesium a day. While the Recommended Daily Allowance is 420 mg for adult males and 320 mg for adult females. (The RDAs is the minimum amount for a healthy person, not the recommended amount.)
Anyone in A-Fib is almost certainly magnesium deficient with a substantial cumulative deficiency over months and years.
To learn more about Magnesium, go to our Mineral Deficiencies page. If considering a supplement, read: Low Serum Magnesium Linked with A-Fib, by Lynn Haye; and ‘Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart.
by Steve S. Ryan, PHD, October 2015, Updated January 26, 2016
According to recent studies, you are better off having a Watchman device installed than spending a lifetime on warfarin.
In two randomized clinical trials comparing Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LACC-Watchman Device) to warfarin, 1,261 patients from the PROTECT AF and PREVAIL trials were studied. The follow-up period was around 3.3 years. Patients receiving the Watchman compared to patients on warfarin had significantly fewer:
• Hemorrhagic strokes
• Cardiovascular/unexplained death
• Non-procedural bleeding
• All-cause stroke or systemic embolism was similar between both strategies.
There were more ischemic strokes in the Watchman device group, but this was balanced by a greater number of hemorrhagic strokes in the Warfarin group.
However, the patients in the control group of the PREVIAL trial were considered “unusual” in that, given their risk profile, they had a much lower ischemic stroke rate than ever observed in any clinical trial. See Getting FDA Approval for the Watchman Device.
What Patients Need to Know: Watchman Actually Better Than Warfarin
The Watchman device provides similar protection against having an A-Fib (ischemic) stroke as being on warfarin.
But the Watchman device isn’t simply an “alternative” to warfarin, but rather an improvement or advance or progression. One would intuitively expect that people receiving the Watchman device would also have less hemorrhagic strokes and bleeding compared to those on warfarin, which these studies do demonstrate.
Welcome Alternative to a Lifetime on Warfarin
Warfarin and other anticoagulants work by causing bleeding and are inherently dangerous. The Watchman device is not only a welcome alternative to a lifetime on warfarin, but is actually better than warfarin.
Long-term use of anticoagulants such as warfarin have been known to not only cause hemorrhagic strokes but also microbleeds in the brain which lead to dementia.
Among other bad side effects, long-term use of anticoagulants such as warfarin have been known to not only cause hemorrhagic strokes but also microbleeds in the brain which lead to dementia. See Patient on Anticoagulation Therapy for 10 Years Develops Microbleeds and Dementia.
A 2015 study found evidence of microbleeds in 99% of subjects aged 65 or older, and that increasing the imaging strength increased the number of detectable microbleeds. Microbleeds have been suggested to be predictive of hemorrhagic stroke.
According to current research, you are better off having a Watchman device installed than spending a lifetime on warfarin. (Of course, this assumes that the doctor performing the procedure is beyond his/her learning curve. That is, when operating doctors are first performing the procedure, there is a higher risk for procedural complications.)
What About the New Anticoagulants (NOACs)?
Does this research apply to the new anticoagulants like Pradaxa, Xarelto, Eliquis and Savaysa/Lixiana? Technically no. This research only applies to warfarin. But intuitively one would expect the same general principles to apply. All anticoagulants cause bleeding. That’s how they work.
Caveat—Long-Term Effects of Watchman?
What are the long-term effects of leaving a mechanical device like the Watchman inside the heart? We know that, after a few months, heart tissue grows over the Watchman device so that the LAA is permanently closed off from the rest of the heart.
It seems unlikely that complications would develop after a long period of time as has happened with warfarin. But we can’t say that for sure until enough time has passed. The first clinical trial installation of the Watchman device in the US was in 2009 and in Europe in 2004. So far no long-term complications have developed.
Preventing Stroke in the Elderly—Even If They Don’t Have A-Fib!
One of the great potentials of the Watchman device is that it may someday be used to prevent stroke in the elderly even if they don’t have A-Fib. Imagine a world where you no longer live in fear of a stroke as you get older, where 90%-95% of stroke risk can be eliminated by a simple 20 minute procedure. The Watchman device (and other Left Atrium Occlusion Devices such as the Lariat and the surgical AtriClip) may change the way elderly medicine is practiced.
How many people turning 70 or 75 would welcome a device that would almost guarantee freedom from the most severe type of ischemic stroke (a cardioembolic stroke)? The Watchman device has the potential to greatly reduce or eliminate the threat of strokes in the elderly!