ABOUT 'BEAT YOUR A-FIB'...


"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

"Your book [Beat Your A-Fib] is the quintessential most important guide not only for the individual experiencing atrial fibrillation and his family, but also for primary physicians, and cardiologists."

Jane-Alexandra Krehbiel, nurse, blogger and author "Rational Preparedness: A Primer to Preparedness"



ABOUT A-FIB.COM...


"Steve Ryan's summaries of the Boston A-Fib Symposium are terrific. Steve has the ability to synthesize and communicate accurately in clear and simple terms the essence of complex subjects. This is an exceptional skill and a great service to patients with atrial fibrillation."

Dr. Jeremy Ruskin of Mass. General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

"I love your [A-fib.com] website, Patti and Steve! An excellent resource for anybody seeking credible science on atrial fibrillation plus compelling real-life stories from others living with A-Fib. Congratulations…"

Carolyn Thomas, blogger and heart attack survivor; MyHeartSisters.org

"Steve, your website was so helpful. Thank you! After two ablations I am now A-fib free. You are a great help to a lot of people, keep up the good work."

Terry Traver, former A-Fib patient

"If you want to do some research on AF go to A-Fib.com by Steve Ryan, this site was a big help to me, and helped me be free of AF."

Roy Salmon Patient, A-Fib Free; pacemakerclub.com, Sept. 2013


Coping with Atrial Fibrillation

That Demon on Your Shoulder Called ‘A-Fib-Zebub’

For Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, we are introducing a little character called “That Demon A-Fib-Zebub“. He’s that little voice that’s whispers in your ear “You don’t look sick! A-Fib’s not that bad. You can live with it”.

ezgif-com-gif-maker640

That little voice has a name: A-Fib Zebub.

When That Demon A-Fib-Zebub pops up, it time to remember that A-Fib is not benign, but a progressive disease. It’s not a “nuisance arrhythmia” as some doctors consider it.

And you should not just “take your meds and get used to it” (as one doctor told his patient). Who wants this demon on their shoulder?

From time to time, That Demon A-Fib-Zebub will float into our infographics and posts.

Don’t Settle for a Lifetime on Meds: Aim for A Cure

A-Fib is definitely curable. (I was cured of my A-Fib in 1998). If you have A-Fib, no matter how long you’ve had it, you should aim for a complete and permanent cure.

Don’t listen to A-Fib-Zebub. Instead, seek encouragement from other patients. Select from our list of over 80 Personal A-Fib stories of Hope to learn how others are dealing with this demon we call Atrial Fibrillation.

Do not learn to live with Atrial Fibrillation. 

Seek Your Cure!

 

My Top Articles About Exercise and Atrial Fibrillation

My Top 3 Articles - Exercise and A-Fib 400 sq at 96 resby Steve S. Ryan, PhD

When you develop A-Fib, you have to think seriously about changing your exercising routine. In general, you want to do whatever you can to stay active and exercise normally. Review these articles to help you determine the right choices for you.

1. Exercising During an Episode: “When I’m having A-Fib symptoms, should I go ahead and exercise as I would normally?

2. Returning to “Normal” Exercise Level: “I love to exercise and I’m having a catheter ablation. Can I return to what’s ‘normal’ exercise for me? 

3. Exercise to Improve Circulation: “Is there any way I can improve my circulation, without having to undergo a Catheter Ablation or Surgery?

Do Whatever You Can to Stay Active

Having Atrial Fibrillation doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising, but you have to be smart about it. (In some people, light exercise helps get them out of an A-Fib attack. In others, like me when I had A-Fib, exercise makes it worse.) Do whatever you can to stay active even though you have A-Fib.

Additional Resources

Guide to DIY Heart Rate Monitors: A-Fib patients sometimes want to monitor their heart rate and pulse when exercising. A consumer ‘DIY” monitor can be useful. Continue reading…

Lessons You Can Learn About Intense Exercise: Why Elite Athletes Develop A-Fib. Continue reading…

My Top 5 Picks: DIY Heart Rate & Handheld ECG Monitors

By Steve S. Ryan, PhD

Many A-Fib patients want to monitor their heart rate when exercising or when performing physically demanding activities, i.e., mowing the lawn, loading equipment, etc. (I wore one when I had A-Fib.) A consumer ‘DIY” monitor or Handheld ECG monitor may meet this need.

 
My Top 5 Picks for DIY Heart Rate & Handheld ECG Monitors


To get you started, here are my Top 5 Picks. 
These products are available from many online sources, but to make it easy for you and to read my other recommendations, see my ‘Wish List’ on Amazon.com. (Note: Use our Amazon portal link, and your purchases help support A-Fib.com.) 

Polar FT2 Heart Rate Monitor at A-Fib.com1. Polar FT2 Heart Rate Monitor

Used by runners and other athletes, this basic model has a clear, LARGE number display of your heart rate (as number).

The included Polar FT2 chest strap picks up the electrical signals from your heart and transmits to the wrist watch. Simple one-button start. Includes FT2 Getting Started Guide.

Also look at Polar FT1. Polar is my brand of choice, but there are many good brands.

2. Polar RS300X Heart Rate Monitor

A more advanced Polar model. Water resistant. Many built-in fitness features in addition to displaying your heart rate as a number (not a tracing). The included H1 heart rate sensor chest strap sends a continuous heart rate signal to the wrist watch.

Also look at Polar FT4; in colors.

Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor & Fitness Tracker 150 x 75 pix at 300 res3. Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor (Chest Strap)

Bluetooth-compatible heart rate sensor chest strap; Pair it with an app on your iPhone, iPad and Android device (instead of the Polar wrist watch).

AliveCor 250 x 150 pix at 300 res4. AliveCor Mobile ECG for Apple and Android devices

For ECG tracings. Attaches to most smartphones and works with tablets. Records and displays an actual medical-grade ECG in just 30 seconds that you can share with your doctor. Shows whether your heart rhythm is normal or if atrial fibrillation is ‘detected’.

BioMedetrucs Performance Monitor 150 x 110 pix at 300 res5. BodiMetrics Performance Monitor

For ECG tracings & more. Stand alone unit captures and displays actual ECG and other vitals in less than 20 seconds. Palm-size, slips into your pocket or purse. Wireless, syncs with your Android or iPhone. More than just heart activity, set goals with daily reminders, etc.

BONUSFacelake Fl400 Pulse Oximeter

Many A-Fib patients also suffer with sleep apnea. An easy way to check is to measure your blood’s oxygen level. A reading of 90% or lower means you should talk to your doctor, you may need a sleep study.

 

Consumer Heart Rate Monitors by Polar

Guides to DIY HRMs

Learn More About DIY Heart Rate Monitors

For more information about these monitors, see my Guide to DIY Heart Rate Monitors & Handheld ECG Monitors (Part I).

To learn how they work, see DIY Heart Rate Monitors: How They Work For A-Fib Patients (Part II).

A-Fib Free? Celebrate Your Independence!

Seek your Cure at A-Fib.com

I’ve been A-Fib free since 1998. You can be too! Read my story and over 80 stories of others free from the burden of Atrial Fibrillation, go to: Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope and Courage.

P.S. This week in the U.S., we celebrate the founding of our country with the July 4, 1776 signing of our Declaration of Independence. (BTW: Patti found this photo and writes: “Our family’s Fourth of July picnic celebrations always include a cold slice of watermelon.”)

Off Meds Completedly: Stopped Alcohol, Stays Hydrated

Stop alcohol advises Todd A. at A-Fib.com

Stop alcohol advises Todd A.

Todd A. writes that he has A-Flutter with occasional A-Fib. He has been electrocardioverted 6 times and chem-cardioverted 3 times.

Now Off Meds Completely

“I have stopped alcohol completely and work hard to stay very hydrated. Since doing these two things, I am OFF medications completely and have not been electrocardioverted for 8 months.
I was chem-cardioverted once (300 mg flecainide) 3 months ago. I do take Eliquis (blood thinner) as a precaution.”

Lesson Learned: Stop Alcohol, Stay Hydrated

“I advise everyone to stop all alcohol consumption and stay hydrated. At the least, it could have a positive influence on the number of A-Fib/Flutter episodes, severity, and length. It did for me.”

Todd A.
trw412(at)gmail.com

Help Others with A-Fib: Share What’s Working for You

You’ve done your homework. You’ve learned about your A-Fib triggers. You’ve found some relief from your symptoms.

Why not share an insight or two with other patients with your same symptoms? Is a specific treatment working for you? Have lifestyle changes helped? Or, perhaps, an alternative or homeopathic remedy?

Won’t you email us and share your tip?

Sharing is What This Website is All About.

As Steve writes in his own personal A-Fib story: “I started A‑Fib.com to spare others the frustration, depression, and debilitating quality of life the disease caused me.” Won’t you join us in this noble effort?

Do it NOW! Send us an email. What can you share to help others deal with this ‘demon’ Atrial Fibrillation?

Send us a tip to help other A-Fib patients

Do it TODAY!
Email Us

P. S. Have more than a tip share? How about sharing your A-Fib story! Read how to write and submit your personal experience A-Fib story.

FAQs Coping with A-Fib Stroke: What Your Family Should Learn Now

 FAQs Coping with A-Fib: Stroke Action Plan

FAQs A-Fib afib22. “In case I have an A-Fib-related stroke, what does my family need to know to help me? (I’m already on a blood thinner.)  What can I do to improve my odds of surviving it?

Stroke is the most dreaded effect of having A-Fib. And an A-Fib-related stroke is usually worse because the clots tends to be larger. They often result in death or permanent disability.

Here are some basic facts and steps you and your family can take to prepare for and what to do if stroke strikes any member of your family.

Prepare Your Plan: The 4 Steps

For your own and your family’s peace of mind, you need to create a ‘Stroke Action Plan’.

Step 1: Learn the Signs of a Stroke

Make it a family affair. Discuss the most common signs of stroke: sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body.  Stroke may be associated with a headache, or may be completely painless. Each person may have different stroke warning signs.

Step 2―Ask Your Doctor

Discuss with your doctor what actions to take in case of stroke. For example, some doctors recommend aspirin to help avoid a second ischemic stroke (A-Fib). If so, ask what dosage.

Step 3―Locate Your Nearest ‘Certified Stroke Center’

Why a Certified Stroke Center? If a stroke victim gets to a Certified Stroke Center within four hours, there is a good chance specialists can dissolve the clot without any lasting damage.

Only a fraction of the 5,800 acute-care hospitals in the U.S are certified as providing state-of-the-art stroke care.

A certified or ‘Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center’ is typically the largest and best-equipped hospital in a given geographical area that can treat any kind of stroke or stroke complication.

A Certified Stroke Center will have drugs such as Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) to dissolve the clot. Can use Clopidogrel or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) to stop platelets from clumping together to form clots. Or use anticoagulants to keep existing blood clots from getting larger.

So do your homework. To find the nearest certified or ‘Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center’ check these listings:

Find A Certified U.S. Stroke Center Near You/NPR News
Find a Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center

Step 4―Post Your ‘Stroke Action Plan’

Write up the three components of your plan (i.e., the signs of stroke, aspirin dosage and location of the nearest Certified Stroke Center).

What about your workplace? Locate the nearest Certified Stroke Center to your job, too, and post a copy.

Also, print handouts with the name and address of the nearest Certified Stroke Center (Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center) for EMS responders. Keep a bottle of aspirin nearby.

Store your ‘Stroke Action Plan’ in a special binder or post so that family can easily find the information.

If a Stroke Strikes: Work the Plan

1. Immediately call your emergency medical services (EMS)―even if the person having the stroke doesn’t want you to. (e.g., 911 in US and Canada, 0000 in Australia, 999 in the UK.)

Note: DO NOT try to diagnose the problem by yourself, and DO NOT wait to see if the symptoms go away on their own.

2. While waiting for EMS, administer aspirin in the proper dosage (if advised by your doctor before hand) to help avoid a second stroke.

Note: The emergency operator might connect you to a hospital that gives you instructions based on symptoms.

3. When EMS arrives, tell them to take the patient to your nearest Certified Stroke Center (give them a handout with the name and address).

Note: If necessary, be firm, insist they go to your choice of Certified Stroke Center. (Realize that some paramedics and ambulance services have side deals with hospitals to take patients to their hospitals, even if it’s not the right hospital for stroke victims.)

The Wrap Up

A ‘Stroke Action Plan’ with specific steps is reassuring during a medical emergency and helps everyone stay calm. Your family will be confident they’re supporting you in taking the right action at the right time.

The only guarantee of not having an A-Fib stroke is to no longer have A-Fib.

Know that quickly going to a certified or ‘Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center’ may save you from the debilitating effects of an A-Fib stroke, or even death.

For additional reading, see Ablation Reduces Stroke Risk to that of a Normal Person.

References for this article

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Back to FAQs: Coping with Your A-Fib

‘A-Fib’s Demise’, a Poem by Emmett Finch, The Malibu Poet

Photo - Emmett Finch, The Malibu Poet

Emmett Finch, The Malibu Poet

We met Emmett Finch, The Malibu Poet, when we researched his personal A-Fib story for our book, Beat Your A-Fib. (“40-Year Battle With A-Fib Includes AV Node Ablation With Pacemaker” on pp. 166-169.) Now in his 90s, Emmett’s story illustrates the evolution of A-Fib treatments from drug therapy to PVIs, and from AV Node ablation/Pacemaker to the Watchman device.

Emmett honored us with a special poem ‘A-Fib’s Demise’. It’s for people of faith who look for hope and help from the Divine but also see doctors, medicines, supplements, etc. as manifestations of the “creative power we call God.”

We hope ‘A-Fib’s Demise’ will inspire you to Seek Your Cure!

Note: Want a hard copy? Download and print the PDF.

Emmett's Poem - A-Fib_s Demise

 

Silent A-Fib: When to Call Your Doctor or Visit the Emergency Room

VIDEO: EKG display of heart in Atrial Fibrillation, A-Fib

EKG display of heart in A-Fib

With a ‘Silent’ A-Fib episode, when is it time to call your doctor or visit the emergency room? That’s the topic of this email we received from Ross Johnston. He wrote he was recently diagnosed with ‘Silent A-Fib’ (discovered during a routine ECG). He asked me:

“During a ‘silent’ episode with few symptoms, when is it time to visit the ER? When my heart rate hits 150, 175, or 200? Or when my A-Fib lasts more than 24 hours? Or 48 hours?”

Ross is very fortunate that his Silent A-Fib was discovered. About 30%–50% of people with Atrial Fibrillation are walking around not knowing they have it. All too often they have a stroke and only then find out they have Silent A-Fib (and the probable cause of their stroke). 

A-Fib is easily identified from an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which should be part of your annual physical exam.

Silent A-Fib Is Seldom Totally Silent

Anyone with Silent A-Fib should learn to take their pulse and take it often. Besides the number of beats-per-minute, also note is it uneven? Too fast (or too slow)?

To learn how, see the Arrhythmia Alliance video: “Know Your Pulse wth Sir Roger Moore”. You can also use a device like a pulse oximeter (such as the Contec Pulse Oximeter for about $20 from Amazon.com or from your local drug store).

A Conservative Approach

Silent A-Fib is seldom totally silent. If you feel something is “off” or different about your body, check your pulse. Don’t hesitate about going to the emergency room.

A conservative, safe approach is to go to the ER if your heart rate is over 100 bpm and/or lasts for 24-48 hours.

My Best Advice: Create an ‘A-Fib Episode Action Plan’

Anyone with Silent A-Fib (or any type of A-Fib) should develop an action plan. During an A-Fib attack, an A-Fib Action Plan reassures you you’re taking the right actions and helps you stay calm.

To develop your A-Fib Action Plan, you need to team up with your doctor. Discuss the following items. When having an A-Fib episode, you should know:Keep Calm and Follow Your A-Ffib Action Plan poster at A-Fib.com

• 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 the answers and add other helpful information, i.e., your local emergency room, directions, phone numbers, etc. Post a copy in a prominent place and discuss your A-Fib Action Plan with your loved ones.

The Bottom Line

If you feel something is “off” or different about your body, check your pulse. Then refer to your A-Fib Episode Action Plan and check for your next actions. If not sure, don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room.

For more, see my article: Why & How to Create Your ‘A-Fib Episode Action Plan’.

Got A-Fib? Add ICE to Your Cell Phone

Cell phone with ICE contact

Cell phone with ICE contact

Emergency personnel often look at your cell phone contacts list for an ‘ICE’ contact, that is, an “In Case of Emergency“ entry.

With the proliferation of cell phones, it makes sense and it’s easy to do. Just set up a contact named ‘ICE’ and enter your emergency contact’s name, phone numbers, email address, etc.

In the notes field, you can add your vital medical information such as medications, allergies or medical conditions.

Tips:

• Be sure your all family members add ICE to their cell phones including teenagers, college students and grandparents.

• Don’t forget to review and update your ICE info when you change doctors, start (or stop) medications or have a medical procedure.

Newly Diagnosed Patients: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Photo collage of patients who have shared their story on A-Fib.com

A few of the patients who have submitted questions to A-Fib.com.

For over a decade of publishing A-Fib.com, we have answered thousands of patient’s questions—many times the same questions. Perhaps the same questions you may have right now. In our section FAQ about Living with A-Fib, the first group of answers is For the Newly Diagnosed A-Fib Patient

Here we share answers to the most often asked questions by the new A-Fib patient and their family. Questions such as, “Did I cause my Atrial Fibrillation? Am I responsible for getting A-Fib?”, “Is Atrial Fibrillation a prelude to a heart attack?”, and “Can I die from my Atrial Fibrillation? Is it life threatening?”

We also answer questions about driving your car, your sex life, and dealing with the fear and anxiety.

We invite you to browse through the lists of questions. Then, just ‘click’ to read the answer. Go to -> Frequently Asked Questions by Newly Diagnosed Patients.

 

We Make it Easy to Request Your Medical Records

How to Request Copies of Your Medical Records

Seeing a new doctor or specialist? You’ll want to supply them with a copy of all your relevant A-Fib related medical records. This may involve requesting files from current and former physicians and medical centers.

In the US, under the HIPAA legislation, you have a right to copies of your records.

To start the process you need to submit a written request to each doctor or medical practice.

To make this easy, use the sample letter provided by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a non-profit patients advocacy group.

Download the free PDF file from their website and print or save the PDF file to your hard drive. 

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Using their sample letter as a template, replace the sample patient information with your own and create a letter for each doctor or practice. Then print and hand-deliver your request to your doctor’s office or mail or fax it.

The doctor’s office is required to respond in a specific number of days. To learn how long they have to respond and what they are allowed to charge you for copies, see our article, “How to Request Copies of Your Medical Records”.

Book Recommendation: “The Healing Kitchen” for Finding Foods that Promote Heart Health

The Healing Kitchen by Stephen Sinatra

The Healing Kitchen by Stephen Sinatra

Neville (from Australia) wants to share his experience with our A-Fib.com readers:

“I recently bought cardiologist Stephen Sinatra’s book, “The Healing Kitchen” from Amazon.com using your [A-Fib.com portal] link.
I recommend it to your readers as a big help in finding foods that promote heart health and avoiding those that are harmful. There is a wealth of useful advice in the book including information on clinical studies that back up his arguments.”

Thanks, Neville, for sharing your book recommendation. And thank you for using the A-Fib.com portal link to Amazon.com to make your purchase. Each sale generates a small commission which we apply to the monthly costs of publishing A-Fib.com. All at no extra cost to you.

Bookmark our Amazon.com portal link and use it every time you shop Amazon.A-Fib.com portal link to Amazon.com

Doing your Holiday shopping online?
Use our Amazon.com link: http://tinyurl.com/Shop-Amazon-for-A-Fib.
Support A-Fib.com at no extra cost to you.

How to Write Your Personal A-Fib Medical Summary

Doctors appreciate knowledgeable, informed, and prepared patients. Since each doctor will probably ask you much the same medical history questions, for efficiency, why not prepare your ‘Personal A-Fib Medical Summary’?

Make a list of all health care providers, emergency rooms, labs and facilities who have provided you with A-Fib-related medical services. Add names and contact information for doctors and specialists you see regularly and why. List medications you take and why (include minerals and supplements also).

Lastly, add relevant medical information from the past two years (surgeries, medical emergencies, allergic reactions, etc.)

Type up your ‘Personal A-Fib Medical Summary’ and print copies. Include with each packet of medical records you send to doctors.

For a list of questions for drafting your summary, see our article, Your Personal A-Fib Medical Summary.

Fall and Winter Warning: Fireplace Use May Trigger A-Fib

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.

Print a free Medical Alert I.D. Wallet Card

Do you carry an emergency medical alert I.D. card? When you have A-Fib and you’re taking a blood thinner or other medications, you may want to carry your medical information.

Free Online Medical ID Wallet Card Generator

MedIDs.com offers a free online generator tool for a fully customized medical info wallet card. Go to Free Printable Medical ID Cards, type in your information and print. (Note: none of your personal information is stored on their website.) Trim the paper and fold to fit your wallet or purse. Add a label, “In Case of Emergency” (ICE). A Few More Tips:

• Laminate your wallet card to prolong its use (an office supply store can help you).
• Why not print a card for each member of your family?
• If you also wear a medic alert bracelet, inscribe it with the message “See wallet card”.

Money clip from Universal Medical Data

Money clip from Universal Medical Data

Additional Ways to Carry Your Emergency Medical Alert ID Information

There are many new styles of Medic Alert IDs bracelets and necklace pendants using different materials like waterproof foam, leather and stainless steel. Don’t carry a wallet? Consider a Money clip with compartment to slide in your emergency contact info.

USB bracelet from Medical Alert Drives

USB bracelet from Medical Alert Drives

Or, if you carry a paper-based day planner or calendar, add the same information to your address book.

For much more information about what and how to carry your emergency medical information, see our A-Fib.com article, Your Portable Medical Information Kit. 

FREE A-Fib Report: Share with Your Boss and Co-Workers

The A-Fib Facts - free download report

Download Free Report

“Just the facts, ma’am,” Detective Joe Friday used to say on the old Dragnet TV show. And that’s what Steve has written for you. “The A-FIB Facts”: a five-page report with the essential facts about Atrial Fibrillation.

Our FREE report answers questions including: What is Atrial Fibrillation, Who gets A-Fib? What causes A-Fib? How is A-Fib treated? What risks are associated with A-Fib?

Share with your boss, with your co-workers. Share with friends. Help them to understand how A-Fib affects you—how it makes you feel. Ask them to help you—to be part of your support system while you learn to deal with Atrial Fibrillation.

Download your PDF copy of The A-FIB Facts: The Emerging Epidemic in Cardiovascular Disease.

What Emergency Medical Info Should You Carry With You?

MedicTag.org free id wallet card

MedicTag.org free id wallet card

As someone with A-Fib, you may want to carry certain medical information about your condition with you at all times. But what information should you include?

In his book, The Patient’s Guide to Heart Rhythm Problems, Dr. Todd Cohen recommends carrying a “portable medical information kit”.  Here’s the information he recommends you carry with you:

1. Full name and date of birth
2. Medical conditions
3. Implantable devices and materials
4. Allergies
5. Medications (and dosages)
6. A copy of a recent ECG
7. Contact information (family, your doctor, and your Health Care Proxy agent)

Type up the information (or use a free wallet card ID generator app such as the one at MedicTag.org). Size and print to fit in your wallet.

Add a copy of your most recent ECG, then fold to fit your wallet or purse.

Medical Alert USB Flash Drive Silicone Bracelet

Medical Alert USB Flash Drive Silicone Bracelet

To make it easier for emergency personnel to find your medical information, add a label, “In Case of Emergency” (ICE).

For a more extensive discussion of what information to include and an array of options for carrying your information with you, see our article: Your Portable Medical Information Kit.

 

Why & How to Create Your ‘A-Fib Episode Action Plan’

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

Keep Calm and Follow Your A-Fib Action Plan - A-Fib.comWrite 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.

Intense Exercise: Lessons from Elite Athletes

Intense athletes have to face the fact that they’re more at risk of developing A-Fib and conditions like small heart injuries and fibrosis, and need to monitor their heart health more carefully.

That doesn’t mean you have to stop running or working out, but you have to be smart about it. Did you give yourself enough time to recover after the last race? What did the EP tell you about your overall heart health? Are you taking time to rest, sleep, and decrease other stressors in life?  Is your diet a healthy one, centered on whole foods?

‘Knowing your heart’ is the best tool in prevention. Understand your heart rate: your normal rate at rest, early in exercise, during peak exercise, and in recovery. For more, read my article, Intense Exercise and A-Fib: Lessons from Elite Athletes.

 

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