By Jon, August 2016
A-Fib Medications Didn’t Work
I struggled with A-Fib for almost eight months in the year of 2011. It began in January, and I had episodes of it throughout the year. My episodes weren’t too bad—as in I never had any side effects of the A-Fib like fainting or clotting. The only real thing I had during the episodes was an irregular heartbeat and a fast heart rate.
Being as young as I am and having a family of my own, it was a lot to have on my shoulders.
I wanted the A-Fib gone, and the medication I was taking did not make it go away.
My Pastors Prayed for My Healing
I knew of another way that the A-Fib could go away—by God supernaturally healing me. Well, in August of 2011 I asked the pastors of my church to pray for me that God would heal me. After the Sunday service they prayed for me. And a week after that my A-Fib was gone. I was healed by prayer.
I haven’t had an episode or problem since 2011! It’s a miracle!
Helped by Great Physicians Too
I am not writing this to refute your book, Steve, nor am I saying that the medical field should not be called upon for help in the time of need.
If it wasn’t for the great physicians here where I live on the East Coast, I would be in bad shape—who knows what would have happened if they didn’t break those episodes I had. And, I’ve read testimonies of others where medicine helped them with, if not cured, their A-Fib episodes.
I simply wanted to share with you my experience – since it included A-Fib. Who knows—maybe God can bless you through my e-mail.
At A-Fib.com one of our volunteer groups is a Positive Thought/Prayer group comprised of wonderful people worldwide. If you would like their support, especially at the time of your ablation or surgery, please email us your request. It’s comforting to know that others who’ve had A-Fib care about you and wish you well.
How to Send Your Request: Send your request to our coordinator, Barbara. Write to barbara: babareeba(at)aol.com (substitute an “@” for the “(at)”).
Join our Group: We invite you to join our ‘A-Fib Positive Thought/Prayer’ group. Learn more on our page: The Healing Power of Hope, Belief and Expectations. All are welcome.
by Jerome E. Groopman
There’s more to hope than we thought. Hope triggers biochemical changes.
Written by an oncologist and citing actual patient cases (mostly cancer), Dr. Groopman explores the role of hope in fighting disease and healing. Top scientists are interviewed who study the biological link between emotion and biological responses; the most relevant studies are reviewed.
The author shows how hope, belief and expectations can alter the course of our lives, and even of our physical body. HOPE works! (Read Patti’s review on Amazon.com.)
If you find any errors on this page, email us. ♥ Last updated: Thursday, August 18, 2016
We published Marilyn Shook’s A-Fib personal story in 2008 (story #25). She emailed me an update in August 2014. In July 2015, I added the following to her A-Fib personal story:
Marilyn was A-Fib free for 7 years after her pulmonary vein ablation in late 2007. In the last few years, she occasionally felt a weird irregular heartbeat that never showed up in the doctor’s office or with short duration monitors.
In August 2014, she had a Medtronic Reveal LINQ ICM (Insertable Cardiac Monitor) installed to identify these arrhythmias. The Reveal monitor did document 2 or 3 episodes of A-Fib. She opted to have a repeat PVA.
In July 2015 she emailed me an update. “It’s been 9 months since my repeat PVA, and there is no evidence of A-Fib. I have not felt that arrhythmia, and my implanted cardiac monitor has been negative for A-Fib.
I no longer take Xarelto or any cardiac medications. I do take a daily 325 mg Aspirin. I am optimistic that the repeat PVA will be effective, and I will continue to be A-Fib free.”
We are most grateful to Marilyn for sharing with us how effective the Reveal monitor was in identifying very intermittent irregular heartbeats that probably never would have been documented otherwise.
Not everyone would have been as aggressive as Marilyn. But she knew how relatively safe a second PVI would be, and she had confidence in her EP, Dr. David Haines, at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Our A-Fib Support Volunteers: Just an Email Away
Marilyn Shook is one of our many A-Fib Support Volunteers. You can find her contact information on our A-Fib Support Volunteers page. We are blessed to have many generous people who have volunteered to help others get through their A-Fib ordeal. Check our Support Volunteers page to learn more about how to contact any of our 50 volunteers.
Many people email me for advice and support. This past week was quite the international experience for me. In addition to emails from the US, I also received emails from Syria, South Africa and Ecuador! Let me share a few with you.
The A-Fib Patient in a War Zone: Someone in a war-torn country was trying to find medical help for his A-Fib. A doctor started him on a heavy dose of amiodarone for his A-Fib. I told him about the toxic effects of amiodarone, but recognized that he was lucky to find any kind of medical help in a war zone. I couldn’t find any EPs still practicing in his country, but did find two centers in an adjacent country not at war. But I don’t know if he will be able to travel there. Please think positive thoughts/pray for him.
Airport Rendezvous: A traveler described a chance meeting in an airport with a well-known EP. This was more like a ‘sign’ than a chance occurrence. This wonderful EP answered her A-Fib questions and referred her to another EP near her for an ablation. She wrote that talking with the ‘airport’ EP helped her make the big decision to have a catheter ablation. (She had been looking at another surgery treatment option which I suggested might be overkill for her.)
Our A-Fib Support Volunteers were so supportive and helpful that she decided to become a volunteer, too.
A-Fib Support Volunteers in Action: Another woman described an all too common frustration with her primary care doctors and cardiologists who didn’t take her A-Fib symptoms seriously. They wouldn’t even refer her for a cardioversion. She was helped a lot by getting in touch with five of our great A-Fib Support Volunteers who had widely different experiences. They were so supportive and helpful that she decided to become an A-Fib Support Volunteer herself.
Amiodarone Advice: Another patient wrote that his cardiologist put him on a heavy dose of amiodarone when he first started having A-Fib episodes. I recommended the patient get a second opinion, that amiodarone is a very toxic med usually only prescribed as a last resort or for short periods of time like during the blanking period after a catheter ablation.
Negative Feedback: I warned someone about an EP whom I had heard negative things about. I referred the patient to a ‘master’ EP in his area for his ablation. I also told him to give his long-suffering wife a hug from all of us. All too often spouses of A-Fib patients put up with a lot and often feel alone and overwhelmed. I told them about the wonderful story “The Spouse’s Perspective: A Young Wife and Mother Copes with Husband’s A-Fib” in our book “Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure.”
September is A-Fib Awareness Month: As you see, there are many, many A-Fib patients out there seeking help and answers for their particular situation. A-Fib is not a one-size-all kind of disease. But A-Fib can be Cured! You don’t have to live a life on meds! Won’t you pass on our message to others with A-Fib and their families and friends? Send them a link to our special FREE report: The Top 10 Questions Families Ask About Atrial Fibrillation.
—Your A-Fib friend, Steve
By Steve S. Ryan, PhD
I received an email from a woman from England who described her horrendous A-Fib symptoms—palpitations, extreme fluttering, breathlessness, “absolute extreme fatigue.”
She then relayed how her doctor told her that her symptoms had nothing to do with her A-Fib, that these symptoms were all in her head, that she was exaggerating her breathlessness and exhaustion.
To add insult to injury, her doctor was a woman! (It’s usually male doctors who tell female patients that’s its all in their mind.)
I wrote back to her and reassured that her symptoms are real and recommended contacting one or more of our A-Fib Support Volunteers. They offer hope and encouragement through exchanging emails and sharing their stories. (Not all Support Volunteers are ‘cured’ of their A-Fib, but have found the best outcome for themselves.)
I also suggested she change doctors.
To learn more about our A-Fib Support Volunteers, go to our Resources page: Our A-Fib Support Volunteers: Just an Email Away.
by Steve S. Ryan, PhD
For a substantial portion of A-Fib patients, the impact on ‘quality of life’ extends beyond our beating heart. Atrial Fibrillation wreaks havoc with your head as well as your heart. Anxiety, fear, worry, confusion, frustration and depression. And at times, anger.
The psychological and emotional effects of Atrial Fibrillation can be debilitating. Recent research indicates that “psychological distress” worsens A-Fib symptoms’ severity.1
(Don’t expect much help from your heart doctors. They aren’t trained or often have little effective experience in dealing with the psychological and emotional aspects of A-Fib.)
Don’t be ashamed to admit how A-Fib makes you feel (especially if you’re a guy). Your psyche is just as important as your physical heart. Just acknowledging you have some or all of these symptoms is a step in the right direction.
Seven WAYS TO COPE WITH YOUR A-FIB FEAR AND ANXIETY
1. Knowledge is Power and Control!
Read about your treatment options, learn about your A-Fib. Read how others have dealt with their A-Fib. Search the list of Personal Experiences published on his site. With over 80 stories, you’re sure to find a few patients with similar symptoms as yourself. Knowing others have beaten their A-Fib is a tremendous psychological relief. This helps replace fear with hope!
2. Anxiety Thought Log
Confront your A-Fib fears directly. Don’t let them mill around in your subconscious. Former A-Fib patient, Anthony Bladon, suggests you keep an ‘anxiety thoughts log.’ Write down word-for-word what the anxious thought was, when, and what was the trigger. Confront each fearful thought and try to re-state it in a more reasonable frame of mind, thereby reducing the anxiety. (See Anthony Bladon and his anxiety log.)
This may sound a bit bizarre, but try repeating anxious thoughts to yourself. Express a fear to yourself over and over. Let the monotony make your mind wander to more enjoyable thoughts. Or set aside a 20 minute worrying time during the day and refuse to think about troubling fears at any other time.
3. Yoga, Relaxation Techniques, Meditation and Walking
In preliminary studies, Yoga has been demonstrated to improve A-Fib symptoms and to reduce A-Fib attacks, as well as improve quality of life, depression and anxiety.2 (See also FAQ #8 “I do Yoga. It relaxes me and helps with my stress level. Is there any evidence on Yoga helping with other A-Fib symptoms?“)
Relaxation techniques and meditation may also offer you relief from your anxieties.
A specific type of meditation called ‘Mindfulness’ is recommended by Harvard Pilgrim nurse case manager Linda Bixby. The technique is to ‘Observe and Feel the Physical Sensations’ of the A-Fib Episodes. At first this may seem counter-intuitive and may not work for you. The idea is to observe rather than resist or worry. You allow a frightening health event like an A-Fib attack to just run its course. For example, Neil Blanchette was diagnosed with A-Fib when he was 17. Meditation and “mindfulness” was a great help to him. “Just taking it in and letting myself feel the physical A-Fib experience was actually relaxing.”3(Thanks to David Holzman for calling our attention to this article.)
Walking curbs anxiety. Try to walk outdoors at approximately the same time each day. Breathing fresh air and having an established routine enhance the calming and relaxing effects of walking. But even if you can’t walk at the same time or outdoors, 20 minutes of walking daily reduces anxiety.
4. Natural Remedies:
Lavender Oil Aromatherapy: the light, soothing fragrance of lavender oil has long been used to ease anxiety (and insomnia). One example of many is Nature’s Way Calm Aid. “It contains Silexan, a type of lavender oil shown in clinical studies to ease anxiety as effectively as the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam (Ativan).”4
PharmaGABA: is a bioidentical form of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which serves as a critical calming agent in the central nervous system, works on the same chemical pathways as Xanax, Valium, and other drugs—without all the negative side effects; helps combat stress and anxiousness.5 One example is Natural Factors PharmaGABA
Relora: a blend of two botanical extracts (Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense) that helps reduce cortisol levels and promotes feelings of relaxation.6
Chamomile: “calms the nerves, reduces irritability and lessens the muscle spasms, headache and abdominal pain that can accompany anxiousness.” Substitute chamomile tea for caffeinated beverages, or take 60 drops of chamomile tincture in two ounces of water four times a day before or after meals, or add two drops of concentrated chamomile essential oil to a hot bath at night.7
Gotu Kola: restores health to brain and nerve cells by promoting blood circulation to the brain which has a calming effect.8
5. Counseling and Meds
Recognize that you may need professional help. Don’t be embarrassed to seek counseling. In addition, discuss if anxiety medication would be appropriate or helpful. (See Jay Teresi’s story, “Anxiety the Greatest Challenge” and Kelly Teresi’s story “A Young Wife Copes with Husband’s A-Fib” in my book, Beat Your A-Fib, pgs. 101-105)
6. Our A-Fib Support Volunteers
It might calm your fears to talk with or email someone who knows first-hand how A-Fib makes you feel. Each of our A-Fib Support Volunteers has gone through a lot to be cured of their A-Fib. They were helped along the way and now they want to return the favor by offering you support and hope. Learn more on our A-Fib Support Volunteers page (under Resources and Links).
7. Enlist Support From Your Loved Ones
Recognize that A-Fib can have significant consequences on your social interactions with your family and colleagues. Sit down and have a talk with your significant other, your friends and co-workers. Explain what A-Fib is, how it affects you and how it makes you feel. Ask for their understanding. They will want to help you, so be prepared to answer their questions.
Takeaway: Fight your fears! Ambush your anxiety! Atrial Fibrillation may be in your heart but it doesn’t have to be in your head. Seek your freedom from anxiety and improve the quality of your life.
Other ideas? If you have suggestions or programs that helped reduce your A-Fib-related anxiety, please email me and let me know.
Last updated: Sunday, February 7, 2016
- Gehi AK at al. Psychopathology and symptoms of atrial fibrillation: implications for therapy. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2012 May;23(5):473-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8167.2011.02264.x. Epub 2012 Mar 19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22429764↵
- Neale, T. Yoga May Calm Afib. MedscapeToday.com. Jan 23, 2013. Last accessed Jan 23, 2014. URL:http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Arrhythmias/37121↵
- Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Your Health, Fall 2014.↵
- Lucile, H. (DrHollyLucille.com) Natural remedy for anxiety, Bottom Line Health, April, 2014, p. 16.↵
- Whitaker, J. PharmaGABA Chewables for Immediate Stress Relief. Whitaker Wellness Institute website. Last accessed March 29, 2014. URL: http://www.whitakerwellness.com/pharmagaba/↵
- Whitaker, J. Innovations in Wellness Medicine, Natural Solutions for Stress Relief. Dr. Whitaker’s Health & Healing, March 2015, Vol. 25, No. 3.↵
- Starbuck, Jamison. The Natural Way/No More Drugs for Anxiety. Bottom Line Health, Volume 29, Number 10, October 2015, p. 10.↵