Doctors & patients are saying about 'A-Fib.com'...


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Dr. Douglas L. Packer, MD, FHRS, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

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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

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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


How One Reader Detects if He’s in (Silent) A-Fib

Some people have A-Fib with no obvious symptoms. This can be dangerous, lead to a stroke and, over time, to a deteriorating heart. Many of these patients do a self-check during the day to monitor for an irregular pulse. Here’s another idea from a fellow A-Fib patient.

Taking Your Pulse

After reading our article, A-Fib Self-Care Skills: How to Check Your Heartbeat and Heart Rate, our reader, Frank, wrote us about how he goes beyond just a self-check to determine if he’s in A-Fib.

“I read your self-care skills articles and wanted to comment.
I check for when I’m in A-Fib very easily. I purchased a pulse oximeter. And whenever my reading is significantly above my normal resting pulse, then I know I’m in A-Fib. I don’t believe there’s any other reason for my resting heart rate to be elevated unless I’m in atrial fib.
A good oximeter is not very expensive at all, and it may be a very useful tool for others.”

Our thanks to Frank for sharing his advice.

How Pulse Oximeters Measure Pulse Rate

Masimo‘s MightySat fingertip pulse oximeter

Pulse oximeters are easily recognized by their associated clip-type probe which is typically applied to a patient’s finger. They are lightweight and intuitive to use.

When your heart beats, it pumps blood through your body. During each heartbeat, the blood gets squeezed into capillaries, whose volume increases very slightly. Between heartbeats, the volume decreases. This change in volume affects the amount of light (such as the amount of red or infrared light) that will transmit through your finger.

Though this fluctuation is very small, it can be measured by a pulse oximeter.

Not Just for Pulse Rates but Blood Oxygen Levels, Too

Measuring your blood oxygen saturation level (SpO2) is also important for A-Fib patients because a very low blood oxygen level puts a strain on your heart (and your brain).

Blood oxygen saturation

Using the same type of setup to measure pulse rate, an oximeter indirectly measures the amount of oxygen that is carried by your blood. By measuring the light that passes through the blood in your finger, your blood oxygen saturation level (SpO2) is calculated and expressed as a percentage.

Accuracy: The American Thoracic Society reports that the oxygen level from a pulse oximeter is reasonably accurate. The best reading is achieved when your hand is warm, relaxed, and held below the level of your heart. Most oximeters give a reading 2% over or 2% under what your saturation would be if obtained by an arterial blood gas test. (For example, if your oxygen saturation reads 92% on the pulse oximeter, it may be actually anywhere from 90 to 94%.)

Pulse Oximeters and Sleep Apnea 

Another application for a pulse oximeter. We’ve written about using a fingertip oximeter as an inexpensive way to check if you might have sleep apnea. A blood oxygen saturation level of 90% or lower means you should talk to your doctor, you may need a sleep study. For more, see Possible Sleep Apnea? Oximeter is DIY Way to Check your Blood’s Oxygen Level

Know Your Pulse Rate and Blood Oxygen Level

Starting at about $25, an assortment of pulse oximeters are available at Amazon.com and other retailers. One CE and FDA approved unit is the Pulse Oximeter Portable Digital Oxygen Sensor with SPO2 Alarm ($23).

On a personal note: As many of our readers know, I’ve been A-Fib free for 20 years. But nonetheless I often will check my pulse using an oximeter at night before going to sleep. Just as Frank describes, it’s very easy to do.

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