Doctors & patients are saying about ''...

" 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


Don’t be Fooled by the Numbers in Drug Ads: How You Get to the Absolute Truth

A while back we posted, Don’t be Fooled by Pay-to-Play Online Doctor Referral Sites, about how it’s common for doctors to pay io be listed in online doctor referral services. (Doctors can pay extra to be listed first in your database search results.)

How Some Drug Ads Mislead

This time we caution you about how some drug ads mislead you.

Here’s an example of an actual news report headline, “New Wonder Drug Reduces Heart Attack Risk by 50%.” Sounds like a great drug, doesn’t it?

Yet it sounds significantly less great when you realize we’re actually talking about a 2% risk dropping to a 1% risk. The risk halved, but in a far less impressive fashion.

A factual headline would be, “New Wonder Drug Reduces Heart Attacks from 2 per 100 to 1 per 100.” Doesn’t sound like such a great drug now, does it?

The online watchdog group reports, that’s why using “absolute numbers” versus percentages matter. “Absolute numbers” provide you with enough information to determine the true size of the benefit.

The Tale of a 50% Off Coupon

Professors Steve Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice explain absolute numbers versus percentage (relative numbers) in a creative way.

“… [it’s] like having a 50% off coupon for a selected item at a department store. But you don’t know if the coupon applies to a diamond necklace or to a pack of chewing gum.
Only by knowing what the coupon’s true value is—the absolute data—does the 50% have any meaning.”

So, 50% off a diamond necklace might be a savings of $5,000. While 50% off a pack of gum might be 50 cents. Absolute numbers tell the whole story.

The Bottom Line: Be Skeptical, Ask Questions

As a healthcare consumer, it’s wise for you to be skeptical anytime you hear a benefit size expressed as a percentage, for example, a 50% improvement or 50% fewer side effects.

Read my book review

You should ask yourself 50% of how many? Of 10,000 patients? Or 10 patients? Which result is significant and which is just blowing smoke?

Numbers matter. That’s how you get to the absolute truth.

Additional Reading

See also How to See Through the Hype in Medical News, Ads, and Public Service Announcements, my review of the book “Know Your Chances―Understanding Health Statistics”.

The Math Behind a 50% Reduction

“New Wonder Drug Reduces Heart Attack Risk by Half.” How was this claim calculated?

The Raw Data: In the research study, the 5-year risk for heart attack for:

-a group of patients treated conventionally was 2 in 100 (2%) and
-a group of patients treated with the new drug was 1 in 100 (1%).

Absolute Difference: The absolute difference is derived by simply subtracting the two risks: 2% – 1% = 1%. Expressed as an absolute difference, the new drug reduces the 5-year risk for heart attack by 1 percentage point (or 1 in 100).

Relative Difference: The relative difference is the ratio of the two risks. Given the data above, the relative difference is: 1% ÷ 2% = 50%. Expressed as a relative difference, the new drug reduces the risk for heart attack by half, or 50%.

Absolute Numbers Versus Percentages:
How the numbers work (or mislead the reader)

Resource for this article
Tips for Understanding Studies: Absolute vs Relative-Risk. Retrieved August 2, 2018.  URL:

Will You Help Us Serve A-Fib Patients and Their Families?

In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., I want to share this lovely message from an reader:

Will You Help Us Serve A-Fib Patients and Their Families?

Since 2002, Patti and I have personally funded and donated our time to research and write all content. Since we want to remain independent and ad-free (i.e. no third-party advertising like Google ads), our long-term goal is to make a self-sustaining site. Here’s how you can help.

How We Generate Ad-Free Revenues

First, from time-to-time we receive donations from grateful readers (look for our PayPal link in the right sidebar). portal link to Amazon.comOur second source of revenue comes each time you use our link to shop online (Just use our link and shop as usual). We earn a small commission on each sale (at no additional cost to you). Bookmark this portal link to Use it every time.

During the Upcoming Holiday and Gift-Giving Seasons

I ask you to support in two ways:

Consider a one-time or recurring donation through our PayPal link (see our sidebar) or mail us a check.
Use our link every time you shop online.

Won’t you help keep ad-free and independent?

To Find Your A-Fib Cure, Build Your ‘Dream Team’

Treating Atrial Fibrillation doesn’t sound like a team sport. But you don’t beat your A-Fib on your own. It takes a team of healthcare professionals and wellness experts to help you seek your A-Fib cure!

While your ‘Dream Team’ will be unique to you, based on your age, symptoms, and other medical conditions, the core members of your Dream Team’ will include:

♥ Your primary care physician: often diagnoses your atrial fibrillation; may prescribe and manage your initial medications (especially for risk of stroke); usually refers you to a cardiologist (hopefully a heart rhythm specialist).

♥ Cardiac Electrophysiologist (EP): a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical functions of your heart; often the leader of your Dream Team! (Read: How to Find the Right Doctor for You.) In addition to your EP, other cardiac professionals may be added to your team including:

▪Cardiac procedure specialist: if you need a catheter ablation, a left atrial appendage occlusion device, i.e. Watchman, AV Node/Pacemaker procedure, pacemaker, etc.

▪Cardiac surgeon: if you need a Maze surgery or Mini-maze surgery

Recruit Beyond Your Team Starters

Don’t stop with just recruiting your star performers. Many of our readers at have drafted other healthcare practitioners and wellness experts to join their Dream Team. You may benefit from one or more of the following:

Sleep specialist: More than 40% of A-Fib patients also suffer from sleep apnea. Everyone with A-Fib should be tested (Sleep Lab or home study). In fact, your EP may require testing before agreeing to perform a catheter ablation. Learn more about sleep apnea.

♥ Nutritional counselor/Naturopathic physician: Many A-Fib patients have found relief of symptoms through herbal and mineral supplementation (starting with magnesium and potassium). Learn more about a more integrated or natural method of healthcare.

♥ Diet & Exercise specialist: Losing weight through diet and exercise has benefited many A-Fib patients. Some report their A-Fib symptoms have diminished or stopped completely through changes in lifestyle. Read more about a heart-healthy eating plan.

♥ Complementary treatment practitioners:

Acupuncture: Many A-Fib patients have reported relief with acupuncture. Research indicates that acupuncture may have an anti-arrhythmic effect in patients with atrial fibrillation. Read about acupuncture research.

Yoga: Many A-Fib patients practice yoga and report benefits, specifically, the number of symptomatic A-Fib events were down, heart beat and blood pressure dropped, depression eased and anxiety decreased. Read about A-Fib and yoga.

Chiropractor: Several patients have reported relief with chiropractic treatments. In addition, a few clinical studies have focused on arrhythmia and ‘manipulation’ techniques. Read more.

How to Build Your ‘Dream Team’

Over 90 stories of inspiration at

Seek inspiration!

Forming your ‘Dream Team’ is an important step toward seeking your A-Fib cure. To build your team, we advise you to use all the resources available to you. Ask for referrals from other A-Fib patients, family and friends, and from your doctors’ nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

For inspiration, learn how others have dealt with their atrial fibrillation. Just browse our list of over 90 A-Fib Stories of Hope and Encouragement. Read a few stories with similar symptoms to your own, age group, etc.

Also, consider corresponding with one of our A-Fib Support Volunteers. They’ve all been where you are now. They have been helped along the way, and want to help other A-Fib patients.

Photos of contributors to Personal Experiences on

A few of our A-Fib Support Volunteers

Remember, above all,
Aim for Your A-Fib Cure!

Reference for this Article
Iliades, C. Team approach: Your Atrial Fibrillation Management Team. 5/30/2013

Donate: Help Become a Self-Supporting Site, but Still Ad-Free

Donate to Help Become a Self-Supporting Site, but Still Ad-Free (A-Fib, Inc) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to patient education of those with Atrial Fibrillation and their families, and to empowering patients to find their A-Fib cure or best outcome. Won’t you join us? Donate Today. Support our Mission!

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Your Support is Needed and Appreciated.

“I’m happy to donate [to]. Steve has always been very helpful answering my questions. You guys do a great job for a good cause! God bless,”

Mary Jo Hamlin, Liverpool, NY

December 2016 

From Steve’s Email Box: 3 A-Fib Patients in Need

Just like our ‘Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope‘, we can learn from each other, so I’m sharing a few of the emails I’ve received and my answers. One of the hardest emails to deal with often comes from outside the U.S.

Young A-Fib Patient: No EP Lab in Her Country

Had to give up college: One young person has such horrible A-Fib symptoms that she had to give up college. Upon investigation, I learned there’s no EP Lab in her country to treat her. My heart goes out to her, not only because she is so young to have A-Fib, but also because she’ll need to travel from her country for treatment, which her family can’t afford. (She’s too young to be on anti arrhythmic drugs for the rest of her life.)

How to help her? I’ve asked several EPs I know for ideas. Perhaps an EP will donate his services and a drug company or device manufacturer (with larger budgets) may offer a charitable donation to finance her travel and hospital stay. I hope someday that can dedicate funds to help people like her. I’ll let you know what develops.

A-Fib Patients with Post-Ablation Challenges

I’ve received two emails I haven’t been able yet to address adequately.

The first was from someone who had a successful catheter ablation a year ago, but still can’t exercise like he used to and suffers from lack of energy.

Steve S. Ryan - high jump at track meet

Steve, 76, masters meet

Post ablation: Usually after a successful catheter ablation, one feels better and has more energy or at least returns to the energy levels they had pre-A-Fib. I told him he should be feeling better, not worse. I shared my experience with being cured 18 years ago and participating in a Masters Track meet two days ago at age 76.

Get your O.R. report: I emailed back and asked him to get a copy of his O.R. (Operating Report) and send me a copy to review. It’s a very technical document not usually given to patients unless they ask for it (see How to Read Your Operating Room Report). When I get it, I’ll study it and email him my summary. It might explain why he is suffering from a lack of energy. I advised him, his doctor and EP may want tests to figure out what’s wrong.

The second email was from someone who has been A-Fib free after surgery in the 90s. (She was probably one of the first!) Lately she has been experiencing bloating and intense pain in her legs. It’s possible that her A-Fib has returned, though her symptoms could come from other causes.

Steves Lists and Directory of Doctors I emailed back asking where she lives so I can use our Directory of Doctors to find a good EP to refer her to.

I wrote her how monitoring devices have greatly improved over the years, like the Band-aid looking Zio Patch. She’d wear it for 1-2 weeks then her EP can analyze for any arrhythmia. But that may not be enough. Her doctor and EP may want to do more testing for a condition like congestive heart failure, or how to improve her circulation and relieve the swelling.

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A-Fib Support Volunteers

I get emails like these every day from patients needing independent, unbiased treatment information from a caring patient advocate. I’m proud that Patti and I continue to publish to help meet this ongoing need.

YOU CAN HELP TOO! Donate toward the monthly publishing cost of this website (look for the orange PayPal button in the right column). Or, you can write an article, become an A-Fib Supporter Volunteer or share your A-Fib story. Read how to Participant at


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