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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”.
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!
I’m proud to announce the launch of The A-Fib.com Advisory Board.
Since the start of A-Fib.com in 2002, many cardiac electrophysiologists (EP) and surgeons have given me invaluable advice and support. They have helped make our website the ‘go-to’ destination for over 350,000 visitors a year. In fact, for three years running, we’ve been recognized by Healthline.com as a top A-Fib blog.
It’s a great blessing to be able to tap into the knowledge and experience of these talented professionals when writing on a difficult A-Fib subject or to get help for an A-Fib.com reader with a difficult case.
From all regions of the U.S., and from France, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia, these doctors may not always agree with all my positions, but they try to point me in the right direction.
The A-Fib.com Advisory Board is my way to publicly thank them and acknowledge their continued support. We invite readers to browse the names of members and their affiliations.
This is the month we focus on reaching those who may have Atrial Fibrillation and don’t know it.
An estimated 30%−50% of those affected with Atrial Fibrillation are unaware they have it—often only learning about their A-Fib during a routine medical exam.
Of untreated patients, 35% will suffer a stroke. Half of all A-Fib-related strokes are major and disabling.
To spread the word about Atrial Fibrillation, A-Fib.com offers a new infographic to educate and inform the public about this healthcare issue.
See the full infographic here. (Then Share it, Pin it, Download it.)
by 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.
By Patti J. Ryan
Do you struggle with the daily mix of supplements and prescriptions you take? Some are small, but some are horse-pill size! Some you take in the AM, others you take in the PM.
Trying to find the right pill organizer has been a trial for me. Most often the compartments are too small and hard to open.
I Found the Best Organizer
After years of trial and effort, I’ve FINALLY found a great pill organizer―the EZY Dose AM/PM 7-Day Push Button organizer.
This 7-day organizer has two rows for AM/PM dosages with large letters for the days of the week.
Compartments are extra large―about 1 1/8″ wide by 1 3/8″ deep. That’s large enough for those ‘horse pill’ size tablets. The compartments have rounded bottoms― making it effortless to get the pills out. And the cherry on top? Push button lids―easy open and easy close.
Do you carry your meds with you? The EZY Dose is also compact and portable for carrying in your purse or jacket pocket.
Note: If you take pills four times a day, there’s an EZY Dose for you too: 7-Day XL Medtime Planner
Use our Link to Amazon.com and Support A-Fib.com
For my needs, I bought two 7-Day EZY Dose organizers from Amazon.com, so I’m set for two weeks at fill up time.
Use our Amazon.com portal link: Here’s a link to get two EZY Dose AM/PM 7-Day Push Button organizers and Free Amazon Prime shipping. (Purchases through our portal link helps support A-Fib.com―at no extra cost to you!)
The EZY Dose AM/PM 7-Day organizer is also available from other retail and online sources.
I’m traveling for a few days, so this post has to be short, but not necessarily brief! Did you know I’ve listed my Best A-Fib News posts from 2015 on Pinterest? Each year Patti and I write about 150 posts, so we selected the best ‘evergreen’ posts for you.
To browse through our hand-picked selections, just click the Pinterest logo and click on a few picks. You may find something you have missed or want to reread.
Just For Fun
What do Mother Theresa, Ellen Degeneres and Vice President Dick Cheney have in common? If you guessed Atrial Fibrillation, you’re right! For fun, look at our board with 50 Celebs with A-Fib!
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.)
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.
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.
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).
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’.
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.
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.
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).
The harmful chemical compound, BPA, may have been removed from many plastic bottles and food packaging, but “BPA-free” products may not be much safer.
The BPA chemical replacements, BPS and BPF, can also leach into food and beverages and may have the same impact on the human body (heart problems, as well as cancer, infertility and other health issues).
BPA Replacement Linked to Arrhythmias in Female Rats
A study published in the Journal Environmental Health Perspectives (Seltenrich) shows that the chemical compound BPS has nearly identical impacts on the cardiovascular system of rats as those previously reported for BPA. Researchers reported a link between BPS and irregular heartbeat. More research is needed.
What to Do: It Doesn’t Hurt To Be Cautious
To reduce your risk of arrhythmia from BPS/BPF, decrease or eliminate your use of plastic storage containers for food or drink.
Drink from steel or glass containers, not plastic ones.
Don’t microwave your food in plastic containers. The heat from the microwave can separate BPA-like compounds from plastic containers, making them easier to ingest. If you must use plastic containers, avoid the microwave.
Ideally, just store food in ceramic, glass or stainless steel containers in the first place.
To read more, see the April 2015 TIME magazine article by Justin Worland, Why ‘BPA-Free’ May Be Meaningless.
by Steve S. Ryan, PhD, updated September 18, 2016
Few people in the U.S. today are shocked or scandalized that the Drug and Device Industry (DDI) basically bribes doctors and hospitals to prescribe their drugs or use their equipment. It’s so commonly done that we take it for granted.
In the U.S., in general, it isn’t considered unethical or immoral for doctors to accept payments or favors from the Drug and Device Industry (DDI). Nor is it illegal.
But soon U.S. patients will be able to simply type in our doctor’s name in the Open Payments Database and see how much they are being paid by the DDI and what conflicts of interest they have.
Thanks to the Sunshine Act (a provision of the U.S. 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), the DDI must report when they make a payment to a doctor for meals, promotional speaking or other activities.
Influencing Doctors’ Prescriptions for the Price of a Meal
In a recent JAMA Internal Medicine report (DeJong, C., June 2016), the authors compared meal payments to doctors with the drugs they prescribed to Medicare patients.
Even doctors who accepted only one free meal were more likely to prescribe the brand name drug.
Not surprisingly, they found that physicians who accept free meals from a drug company are more likely to prescribe that company’s brand name drugs rather than cheaper (and usually more proven) generic drugs. This study only focused on physicians who received meals.
Even doctors who accepted only one free meal were more likely to prescribe the brand name drug. Doctors who accepted four or more meals were far more likely to prescribe brand name drugs than doctors who accepted no meals. Furthermore, doctors who accepted more expensive meals prescribed more brand name drugs.
In another related JAMA Internal Medicine report (Yeh, JS, June 2016), researchers found similar evidence that industry payments to physicians are associated with higher rates of prescribing brand-name statins.
Steer Clear of Conflicts of Interest
The publication, Bottom Line Personal, offered words of wisdom on this subject.
“Studies have found that when there is a conflict of interest, it is almost impossible for even well-meaning people to see things objectively.”
Dr. Dan Ariely of Duke University described how, if a doctor must choose between two procedures, they are likely to pick the one that has the better outcome for their bottom line.
“That doesn’t mean the doctor is unethical…it just means he is human. We truly seem to not realize how corrosive conflicts of interest are to honesty and objectivity.”
He advocates that we steer clear of people and organizations with conflicts of interest “because it does not appear to be possible to overcome conflicts of interest.”
Conflicts of Interest: Be Suspicious of Doctors
Doctors are only human. If a drug rep gets them great tickets to a sporting event, for example, of course they will be inclined to favor that rep’s drug. Whenever you visit a health/heart website ask yourself: “Who owns this site?” and “What is their agenda?”
Whenever you visit a health/heart website ask yourself: “Who owns this site?” and “What is their agenda?”
But be suspicious if your doctor tells you:
• to take an expensive new drug
• to just “live with your A-Fib”
• insists that catheter ablation is too dangerous or unproven
• that A-Fib can’t be cured
• that you have to take drugs for the rest of your life
If this happens to you, RUN and get a second opinion (and even a third opinion).
Conflicts of Interest: Be Suspicious of Health/Heart Websites
When I attend talks at most A-Fib conferences, the first slide a presenter shows is often a list of their Conflicts of Interest.
But this is not required of websites! Health/Heart websites are not required to be transparent and reveal their conflicts of interest.
Whenever you visit a health/heart website ask yourself: “Who owns this site?” and “What is their agenda?” (Hint: Check their list of “sponsors” and follow the money!)
Drug Industry Owns or Influences Most Heart/Health Web sites
The drug and device industry owns, operates or influences almost every health/heart related web site on the Internet!
The fact is most health/heart web sites are supported by drug companies who donate most of their funding.
For example, did you know that the drug company Ely Lilly partially owns and operates WebMD, the Heart.org, Medscape.com, eMedicine.com and many other health web sites?
The fact is that most health/heart web sites are supported by drug companies who donate most of their funding. Consider how that may affect the information they put on their web sites―they’re not going to bite the hand that feeds them.
Be Suspicious of A-Fib Info on the Internet
In our crazy world, you can’t afford to trust anything you read on the Internet.
At one time I tried to keep track of all the mis-information found on various A-Fib web sites. When we’d find something wrong, we would write the site. I don’t think we’ve ever received a reply. Finally, we gave up. (See my video: Buyer Beware of Misleading or Inaccurate A-Fib Information.)
Many web sites put out biased or mis-information. Be skeptical. You can tell if someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Truth will out. If you feel uncomfortable or that something is wrong with a site, it probably is. When you find a good site, the truth will jump out at you.
In today’s world, you have to do your own due diligence. You know what makes sense and what doesn’t.
For more, see my article: EP’s Million Dollar Club—Are Payments to Doctors Buying Influence?
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.
Startup company, MobilECG has created an electrocardiograph (ECG) business card as a novelty to promote their actual clinical product, a low cost ($150-$250) holter or resting ECG.
|As long as you’re touching both of the business card’s scanner pads, the screen will show a basic but accurate ECG readout.
While it is not a diagnostic device, it is good enough to clearly capture the P, Q, R, S and T waves of the ECG signal.
Want one? You can sign up to get an email if/when it’s available (for about $29).
MobilECG Business Card
As a former A-Fib patient, I’m very much aware of blood as the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life.
I regularly donate blood (just donated last week). It’s invigorating to help others, and it doesn’t cost you anything but your time. (But be advised that certain A-Fib medications such as some blood thinners may preclude you from giving blood.)
Every year, on June 14th, countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day. There is a constant need for regular blood supply because blood can be stored for only a limited time before use.
Regular blood donations by healthy people ensure that safe blood will be available whenever and wherever it is needed. A decision to donate your blood can save a life. For more, read Why should I donate blood?
Where Can I Donate Blood?
In the U.S. check The American National Red Cross website. In Canada, go to the Canadian Blood Service. In Australia, go the the Australia Red Cross. For 29 countries in the EU, go to the European Commission/Become a blood donor website. In other countries, check with your national health services.
Remember: Blood Connects Us All!
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.
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?
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!
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.