"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"


"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

Staying in A-Fib Reduces Brain Volume & Cognitive Function

A study of brain atrophy from Iceland found that A-Fib in the elderly caused accelerated loses of brain volume and cognitive function.

Study of brain volume and cognitive function in A-Fib patients

Study of brain volume and cognitive function in A-Fib patients

This is yet another study driving a stake into the heart of the notion that you can just leave patients in A-Fib with anticoagulants and rate control drugs, and they will live happily ever after.

“It’s better for the brain to remain in sinus rhythm than to pursue rate control of A-Fib” stated Dr. David O. Arnar, speaking of the AGES-Reykjavik Study results at the 2015 Euro Society of Cardiology Annual Congress.

The AGES-Reykjavik Study

Over two thousand elderly subjects without dementia (mean age 67 years old) were tested and followed for over 5 years. Participants had brain MRIs and structured cognitive function testing during the duration of the study.

The 2,472 elderly patients fell into three groups: those who remained A-Fib-free throughout the study, those with confirmed A-Fib at the start (121), and those who developed new-onset A-Fib (132) by the end of the study.

AGES Findings: Brain Matter

At the end of the follow-up period, all participants had a reduction in brain grey matter. The amount of reduction varied significantly by group:

• A-Fib-free: 1.8% decrease
• Ongoing A-Fib: 2.79% decrease
• New-onset A-Fib: 6.5% decrease

Loss of brain white matter and the development of white matter brain lesions showed similar results.

AGES Findings: Cognitive Function

Testing cognitive function, processing speed declined over time for all groups:

• A-Fib-free: 10 % decrease
• Ongoing A-Fib: 12.7% decrease
• New-onset A-Fib: 13.9 % decrease

Similar results were found when measuring executive function and memory.

Dr. Arnar was surprised that the changes in processing speed were more pronounced in those with new-onset A-Fib compared to those with ongoing A-Fib. He speculated that patients may adapt to being in A-Fib, so that the rate of change in the brain becomes less pronounced as the A-Fib becomes chronic.

A-Fib Reduces Cerebral Blood Flow: A Key to Brain Deterioration and Aging?

The mechanism by which A-Fib accelerates brain aging is unknown. But Dr. Arnar suspects it’s “…most assuredly AF-induced diminution of cerebral blood flow.”

He showed how the A-Fib-free participants averaged total cerebral blood flow of 540 mL/min, while subjects with A-Fib averaged a lower 480 mL/min.

Electrocardioversion significantly improved cerebral blood flow.

Improve Cerebral Blood Flow with Electrocardioversion

In another study, Dr. Arnar described preliminary results from an ongoing brain perfusion imaging study conducted with 17 AF patients before and after Electrocardioversion. After restoring sinus rhythm, cerebral blood flow was significantly improved and lasted for 10 weeks.

Their total cerebral blood flow improved by a mean of 70 mL/min. Both their grey and white brain matter perfusion improved by 10%.

What Patients Need to Know

When viewing today’s media, be very, very cynical. Remember: almost everything you see about A-Fib in the media is controlled or influenced by drug companies.

Be cynical of ads by drug companies. Remember: they lose a life-time drug customer if you become free of your A-Fib.

Don’t settle for a life on meds: Today’s advertisements for anticoagulants show people living happy, healthy lives while still in A-Fib. But this isn’t usually true.

Along with a host of other problems, living in Atrial Fibrillation causes brain damage and a loss of cognitive function.

Dr. Arnar’s study shows that over time, living in A-Fib (on drug therapy) will most likely damage your brain and impair your thinking ability.

Get a second opinion: If your doctor only prescribes medication (an anticoagulant and perhaps a rate control drug), it’s time to get a second opinion. Look for a doctor (preferably an electrophysiologist who specializes in heart rhythm problems) to get you back into sinus rhythm. A-Fib can be cured by procedures like a catheter ablation.

Contrary to what you hear in the media: Aim to be A-Fib-free!

References for this article



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