"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."

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"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."

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"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."

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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

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

 FAQs Coping with A-Fib: Living in A-Fib

FAQs A-Fib afib“In one of your articles it said that having an ablation was better than living in A-Fib.  If your article means all types of A-Fib including Paroxysmal, then I will consider an ablation.

I’m 73 years old and have Paroxysmal A-Fib. I’ve been taking 75 mg of propafenone 3X/day for seven years and have only had 5 A-Fib attacks in 7 years.

You really aren’t living in A-Fib. You’re taking an antiarrhythmic treatment meant to stop or limit your A-Fib. (Unlike rate-control drugs which only try to limit or control heart rate while leaving you in A-Fib.) For now it’s working fairly well for you.

Drug therapy tends to become ineffective or stop working over time.

Five A-Fib attacks in seven years is very few. With paroxysmal A-Fib like yours, most doctors would say to continue on propafenone till you start having more or longer A-Fib attacks.

(As a point of reference, about 54% of those in paroxysmal A-Fib will go into permanent A-Fib within one year. You’ve made it 7 years!)

A-Fib is a progressive disease that tends to get worse over time.

Consider this. By the time propafenone loses its effectiveness (which is probably inevitable), how permanently damaged will your heart be? How much will your A-Fib have progressed? Will your A-Fib be harder to cure than if you had had a catheter ablation earlier? 

For future reference, you need to know the physical diameter or stretching of your left atrium.

What to Do Now

You need to know the physical diameter or stretching of your left atrium. Electrophysiologists normally perform this measurement when giving patients a stress and Echo test.

For your own records, you should get the actual physical diameter measurement in mm or cm and/or the volume of your left atrium. Don’t settle for words like “mildly dilated” or “normal.” You want a benchmark measurement to compare to in the future.

Check for “silent” no-symptom A-Fib which you aren’t aware of. ‘Silent A-Fib’ is common. Up to 30%−50% of A-Fib patients are unaware they have A-Fib, often only learning about their Atrial Fibrillation during a routine EKG in their doctor’s office. 

Ask your doctor to check for ‘Silent A-Fib’ because it puts you at risk for blood clots and stroke.

Any type of longer-term monitoring (such as a Zio patch which you wear like a Band-Aid for 1-2 weeks or the Reveal Insertable Cardiac Monitor which is inserted just under your skin) could give you this info.

It’s important to know if you have ‘Silent A-Fib,’ because it puts you at risk for blood clots and stroke.

The Bottom Line. Propafenone may be just prolonging the inevitable. Since you now have very few A-Fib attacks, you would probably be a relatively easy fix with a catheter ablation.

On the other hand, you may be one of the fortunate few who will never progress into more serious A-Fib. Everybody’s A-Fib is unique.

See 2015 AF Symposium: Living in A-Fib More Dangerous Than Having an Ablation. Thanks to Thomas Scheben for this question.

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Monday, February 13, 2017
Back to FAQs: Coping with Your A-Fib

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