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


"A-Fib.com is a great web site for patients, that is unequaled by anything else out there."

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

"Jill and I put you and your work in our prayers every night. What you do to help people through this [A-Fib] process is really incredible."

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

“I think your site has helped a lot of patients.”

Dr. Hugh G. Calkins, MD  Johns Hopkins, 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



Chocolate and Reduced Risk of Atrial Fibrillation: A 13-Year Study

In 2017, there’s more on the health benefits of chocolate! Accumulating evidence links chocolate to heart health and now, a lower risk of atrial fibrillation.

A 13-year Danish study published in 2017 tracked the health of 55,000 participants, aged 50–64 years. During the period, more than 3,300 cases of atrial fibrillation emerged. All of the participants had completed detailed questionnaires about their lifestyles, everything from exercise habits to what they ate and drank, including how much chocolate they consumed.

Study Results: Chocoholics Delight

“Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake,” said lead author of the study Elizabeth Mostofsky of Harvard School of Public Health.

Compared to those who ate a 1-ounce serving of chocolate less often than once a month, the risk of atrial fibrillation was:

• 10 percent lower among those who ate one to three servings a month
• 17 percent lower among those who ate one serving a week
• 20 percent lower among those who ate two to six servings of chocolate a week

Benefits of All Types of Chocolate

In the 2015 study, all types of chocolate, including milk chocolate, seemed to have the same beneficial effect.
Most of the previous studies on the chocolate-heart connection found that only dark chocolate offered any cardiovascular protection. But in a 2015 study, “any type of chocolate, including milk chocolate, seemed to have the same beneficial effect” according to Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publications.

Dr. LeWine added that while scientists aren’t sure why chocolate seems to boost heart health, it may be related to flavonoids, a type of antioxidant produced by plants.

Flavonoids are particularly abundant in cacao beans and have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage. They’ve also been shown to help thinking skills.

To Avoid A-Fib: How Much Chocolate?

The study results found “the rate of atrial fibrillation was 20 percent lower for people consuming two to six 1-ounce servings [of chocolate] per week”.

A-Fib risk was 20 percent lower among those who ate two to six servings of chocolate a week.

While no recommended daily amounts have been set when it comes to chocolate (or cocoa flavonoids), the European Food Safety Authority suggests that 200 mg of cocoa flavonoids per day is a good target for the general population.

What Patients Need to Know

To reap the various health benefits of chocolate, the higher the cocoa content of the bar, the better. Look for chocolate bars with 70% cocoa or more. You may have to do some detective word, as the amount of cocoa used in chocolate varies a lot (and the amount of flavonoids in chocolate is not always listed.)

Your best bet is to stick with dark chocolate. As a general rule, dark chocolate has more cocoa and therefore more flavonoids than milk chocolate (and less sugar and saturated fat).

References for this Article

 

A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice #3: Don’t Believe Everything You’re Told About A-Fib


Don’t let anyone tell you A-Fib isn’t that serious, or just learn to live with it’.


Ken Hungerford, New South Wales, Australia: “During this period I asked three cardiologists about these episodes, and they all basically told me to simply put up with them.” 

Sheri Weber, Boyce, Virginia: “I questioned the cardio doctor about my future with A-Fib. His response was to tell me many people live with A-Fib and did not suggest any treatment aside from medication.

Warren Welsh, Melbourne, Australia“I experienced several years of unnecessary suffering by accepting an opinion of one specialist who said I would have to live in A-Fib.

I believe that unless there are special circumstances…any advice on treatment that is not directed towards a possible cure should be questioned.” 

Don’t Believe Everything You’re Told About A-Fib.


‘The Top 10 List of A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice” is a consensus of valuable advice from fellow patients who are now free from the burden of Atrial Fibrillation. From Chapter 12, Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure by Steve S. Ryan, PhD.

The Warfarin Myth: A Quiz About Foods and Vitamin K

Taking warfarin to manage your increased risk of clots and A-Fib stroke? Have you been told to avoid foods with vitamin K to prevent excess clotting? To separate the facts from the myths about warfarin and vitamin K, take our 5 question quiz.

A 5 Question Quiz about Warfarin and Vitamin K

1. True or False: Warfarin and vitamin K actually work against each other in your body.
True. Vitamin K helps your blood clot. Warfarin makes your blood clot more slowly. Your INR level is monitored to keep them in balance.

2. True or False: When taking warfarin, you should limit foods with high levels of vitamin K like dark, leafy greens.
False. You don’t need to avoid foods with vitamin K. The key is to consistently maintain your daily level of vitamin K.

Don’t confuse vitamin K with the K on the periodic table for potassium. One’s a vitamin, the other is a mineral.

3. True or False: Vitamin K information is not included on most packaged food nutritional labels.
True. So it’s often hard to determine the amount of vitamin K in your food.

4. True or False: To be safe, it’s better to maintain a low level of vitamin K in your diet.
False. Don’t avoid vitamin K foods. Vitamin K is an important nutrient especially for bone strength, brain function and cardiovascular health.

5. True or False: A vitamin K supplement may actually help stabilize your INR levels.
True. Some experts suggest that a low-dose vitamin K supplement (50-150 mcg/day) may help stabilize fluctuations in INR.

The Facts About Warfarin and Vitamin K

Vitamin K Finder - veggies with border at A-Fib.com

Vitamin K Finder at ptinr.com

Well, how’d you do on the quiz? Did you learn something? So, if you’re on warfarin, you now know the facts from the myths:

• You can eat dark, leafy greens rich with vitamin K
• You need to maintain a consistent intake of vitamin K
• Most nutritional labels won’t help when checking for the amount of vitamin K
• Vitamin K is important for bone strength, brain function and cardiovascular health
• A low-dose vitamin K supplement may help stabilize your INR

Misinformation Surrounding Warfarin

Prolific A-Fib blogger Dr John Mandrola (Dr. John M.), posted about misinformation surrounding warfarin patients and vitamin K. He wrote:

“I am so utterly tired of correcting this mistake….Patients on warfarin can indeed eat green vegetables; they should just eat them consistently. I have vegetarians who do beautifully on warfarin. The problem comes when people vary the weekly dose of vegetables.”

Reclaim the Benefits of Vitamin K

Safety first. When on warfarin, don’t make any changes to your vitamin K intake without first talking to your doctor.

If you and your doctor decide that you can increase your vitamin K intake, the key is to be consistent on a daily schedule. If consumption of vitamin K does affect your INR, your doctor can always adjust the warfarin dosage.

For a practical reference about foods with vitamin K, check out the online ‘Vitamin K Finder’ at the ptinr.com website.

References for this article

Her Mother & Sister Had Atrial Fibrillation, Then She Develops Silent Persistent A-Fib

Frances Koepnick from Athens, GA, was diagnosed with silent persistent A-Fib in 2014. Unlike many other stories on A-Fib.com, Frances was familiar with Atrial Fibrillation. She’s the third person in her family with A-Fib—after her mother and older sister. (However, they both had paroxysmal A-Fib). Read about her 3-year journey to a life free of the burden of A-Fib:

Frances K.

“I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) at age 69, while undergoing a pre-operative physical examination prior to hip replacement surgery. This was a surprising development since my A-Fib was completely “silent” with no symptoms.

Six Cardioversions: Not a Long-Term Solution: Eventually, I underwent a total of six cardioversions in an attempt to return my heart to normal sinus rhythm. Three of these procedures were electrical cardioversions and three were by means of intravenous drugs. I soon learned that cardioversion is rarely effective for maintaining normal sinus rhythm over a significant period of time.

I asked a lot of questions— and managed to irritate several physicians.

Consulted Five Cardiologists: I eventually consulted a total of five cardiologists. The advice of the first two cardiologists was to “just take my medications and live with A-Fib”. I have a background in anatomy/physiology as well as microbiology, so I asked a lot of questions— and managed to irritate several physicians.”  …continue reading her story…

Which Doctor for Your A-Fib? The Plumber vs. The Electrician


The Plumber vs. the Electrician

“Cardiologists focus on the vascular function of the heart—think ‘plumber’. Electrologists specialize in the electrical function— think ‘electrician’.

Atrial Fibrillation is an electrical problem. Don’t hire a plumber to fix an electrical problem.”


Finding the Right Doctor for You: When diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, you need to find the best heart rhythm specialist, a Cardiac Electrophysiologist (EP), you can afford. An EP is a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical activity of the heart and in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

See our article to learn how to find the right doctor for you and your treatment goals.

 

New Category of Personal A-Fib Stories: ‘Natural Therapies and Holistic Treatments’

With so many personal A-Fib stories on A-Fib.com (over 95), you may want to read those similar to your own. Our ‘Listed by Subject‘ page displays cross-referenced stories in five major Themes/Topics and several sub-categories.

New Subject Category: Natural Therapies and Holistic Treatments

We often receive requests from A-Fib.com readers seeking non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical treatments options for relief of their A-Fib symptoms. Our new category is crossed-referenced by these topics. Just click on the story number to jump to that A-Fib experience.

DaVinci's Vitruvian Man (Proportions of Man) at A-Fib.com

DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man

Natural Therapies and Holistic Treatments
•  Yoga: 94, 59, 27
•  Chiropractic: 81, 599
•  Acupressure/Acupuncture: 94, 6859, 9
•  Meditation: 68, 59, 17
•  Naturopathy: 73
•  Nutrition/Diet: 73, 715931, 17
•  Natural Remedies: 66

This list will continue to grow as we add new personal A-Fib stories. So, check back from time to time.

Search A-Fib.com by Subject, Keyword or Phrase

Search by Subject, Keyword or Phrase

You can go beyond our Personal Experience stories to find more about alternative treatments. Search our site by keyword, name or phrase. Just use the ‘Search’ box found in the upper right corner of every web page.

Have an A-Fib Story to Share? It can be your own story or perhaps your spouse, parent or sibling. Read how to write and submit your A-Fib story.

 

Considering a CryoBalloon Ablation? Seek an EP also Skilled in RF Ablation Techniques

Recently a patient, still in A-Fib after a CryoBalloon ablation, sent me their Operating Room (O.R.) report which is a blow-by-blow account of the EP’s actions during the procedure.

In my review of their report, after cryoablation of the Pulmonary Veins (PV), the patient was still in A-Fib. It appears the EP did not to make any attempt to map and isolate non-PV triggers. Instead the EP simply electrocardioverted the patient to return him to normal sinus rhythm (NSR). This may work in some cases, but for this patient the ablation was a failure. 

Your O.R. report is a historical record of the EP’s actions during your ablation.

When Considering a CryoBalloon Ablation

When selecting your electrophysiologist (EP), be cautious. For the best results, you want an EP who is not only experienced with CryoBalloon, but also, when needed, can use RF to map and isolate non-PV triggers.

Stay away from EPs who only do CryoBalloon ablation. Some EPs with little or no expertise with RF catheter ablations are now doing CryoBalloon ablations because they’re easier (i.e. less demanding) and faster to perform (more lucrative).

Seek an EP with Both Sets of Skills

Dr-Ali-Sovari, EP Lab, Oxnard, CA at A-Fib.com

Dr Ali Sovari and nurse, EP Lab, Oxnard, CA (procedure observed and photographed by Steve Ryan)

A dual skill-set approach is supported by a study of about 75 paroxysmal A-Fib patients undergoing their first CryoBalloon ablation. Researchers found about 30% of patients required the additional use of RF focal lesions to achieve isolation (to restore normal sinus rhythm).

Most RF-experienced EPs who are now doing CryoBalloon ablations, have the ability and skill to use focal point RF techniques, as needed, to make you A-Fib free during your CryoBalloon ablation.

What Patients Need to Know

In the patient’s case above, an EP experienced in mapping and making RF lesions, could have used these additional skills and tools to locate and ablate non-PV sources of A-Fib signals, and hopefully return the patient to normal sinus rhythm (NSR) at the conclusion to the ablation.

To find the right electrophysiologist (EP) for your CryoBalloon ablation, seek out RF-experienced EPs by asking these probing questions:

 “What do you do if I’m still in A-Fib after you do the CryoBalloon ablation? Will you use RF focal lesions to achieve isolation?”

To learn more about these research findings see By Combining RF and CryoBalloon Ablation Techniques, Do Success Rates Increase?

References for this article

A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice #2: Should You Dump Your Doctor?


‘Don’t be afraid to fire your doctor’.


Sheri Weber, from Boyce, VA: “I wish I had realized that the first doctor you see is not necessarily the right one for you. I fooled around way too long, believing what my cardio doctor said. I should have been thinking outside the box.  Run―don’t walk―to the best specialist you can find in your area.” )

Michele Straube, Salt Lake City, UT: “My experiences with cardiologists were hit and miss. Some told me the best they could do was medicate me so I could walk from the bed to the window and back. …I changed doctors.”

To be cured of your A-Fib: You may need to ‘fire’ your current doctor. Seek a heart rhythm specialist, an electrophysiologist (EP), who will partner with you to create a treatment plan—a path to finding your cure or best outcome. To make this happen, see Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib.

The first doctor you see is not necessarily the right one for you.


‘The Top 10 List of A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice” is a consensus of valuable advice from fellow patients who are now free from the burden of Atrial Fibrillation. From Chapter 12, Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure  by Steve S. Ryan, PhD.

My Top 7 Articles about Catheter Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

Catheter Ablation techniques are achieving success rates of 70%-85% in making patients A-Fib-free and up to 90% successful when a second ablation procedure is required.

Side Benefits: A successful catheter ablation also reduces development of early onset dementia and returns your risk of stroke to that of a person without A-Fib. Catheter ablation is currently the best technique available for “curing” A-Fib.

You don’t have to live the rest of your life on medication. To seek your A-Fib cure, review these articles to learn more about catheter ablation:

1. A-Fib Research: Live Longer―Have a Catheter Ablation
2. Weight Loss Key to Reverse Atrial Fibrillation, Improve Ablation Success
3. Considering a Catheter Ablation? When Choosing Your Doctor—Know  EP’s Complication Rates
4. Chances of A-Fib Recurrence After Successful Catheter Ablation
5. What are the Risks Associated with a Pulmonary Vein Ablation Procedure?
6. A-Fib Ablations: Recurrence (Re-connection) Explained
7. The Evolving Terminology of Catheter Ablation

VIDEO: Catheter Ablation For A-Fib: What it is, How it’s Done and What Results Can Be Expected. Cardiologists from the Cleveland Clinic describe the catheter ablation procedure for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, what it is, how it’s done and what results can be expected from this surgery.

Excellent animations: showing A-Fib’s chaotic signals, and the pattern of ablation scars around the openings to the pulmonary veins. By the Cleveland Clinic (4:00 min.) Go to Catheter Ablation video.

A-Fib Symptoms: Patients’ Anecdotal Tips and Alternative Remedies

Updated article: I’ve added to this article several times over the years. A-Fib.com patients continue to send me first-hand reports of alternative remedies that have given them some relief from their Atrial Fibrillation symptoms. They may work for you too.

Topics include acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment and homeopathic remedies. (For more about natural treatments, see FAQs: Natural Therapies & Holistic Treatments.)

There’s also a long list of anecdotal suggestions. To be clear, these anecdotal tips may provide temporary relief from A-Fib attacks or they may not work at all for your A-Fib. So, try them at your discretion.

I hope one or more of these patient suggestions will give you some relief, too. Go to: Alternative Remedies and Patients Tips for A-Fib Symptoms.

Share Your Own TipsShare your tip at A-Fib.com

We invite you to pass on advice to help others with A-Fib. Has something worked to lessen your A-Fib symptoms, or reduce your frequency or duration of your episodes?

Why not share it with others? Just take a few minutes and send me an email about it. Short or long, your tip can help others.

A-Fib.com Exclusive: Free Offers and Downloads for Our Readers

As a service to A-Fib.com readers, we offer FREE downloads of our own worksheets and reports. In addition, we have also collected useful FREE services or downloads from other organizations or websites serving the atrial fibrillation community. (See the tab on the left subject menu.)

Go to our ‘Free Offers and Links‘ page. You’ll find a short description of each offer including links to related articles.

items on our "Free Offers and Links" page at A-Fib.com

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Some links take you from our site to a free online service. Other links generate a .PDF of a free document or worksheet. (Remember to save it to your hard-drive.) Go to ourFree Offers and Linkspage.

A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice #1: Find the Best, Choose a Specialist


‘Find the best electrophysiologist (EP),
a heart rhythm specialist, you can afford.’


Michele Straube, cured after 30 years in A-FibGo to an electrophysiologist, an A-Fib expert, right away, one with a high success rate at getting patients back into normal rhythm—you deserve nothing less.” 

Terry DeWitt, cured in 2007“Spend the time to find the best Electrophysiologist (arrhythmia specialist) you can find. It makes a big difference in treatment and in the success of the ablation procedure.”

Find the Best Doctor for You: To be cured of your A-Fib, you may need to ‘fire’ your current doctor. To help you seek the right doctor, we take your through the steps in our article: Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib.

Run―don’t walk―to the best specialist you can find in your area.


‘The Top 10 List of A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice” is a consensus of valuable advice from fellow patients who are now free from the burden of Atrial Fibrillation. From Chapter 12, Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure by Steve S. Ryan, PhD.

Now A-Fib Free: A Personal A-Fib Story 23 Years in the Making

It’s been a 23-year ordeal for Charn Deol who’s from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. He was 43 in August of 1993 when he was aware of a few skipped heartbeats. He had just returned to Canada after working for years in Southeast Asia. A week later, the irregular heart beating got worse in duration.

Personal A-Fib story by Charn Deol, BC, Canada at A-Fib.com

Charn Deol, BC, Canada

At the same time, Charn’s story is complicated by two other medical problems. First, simultaneous with the start of his A-Fib, a dull aching pain started in the left chest region the size of a 50-cent piece. Second, he was discovered to have very high levels of mercury in his blood.

Mercury Cleared, Atrial Fibrillation Stops!

By 2000, through chelation therapy treatments, the mercury was finally out of his system. And surprise! His atrial fibrillation stopped too. (It is known mercury can concentrate in nerve tissue.) While it’s only a correlative relationship―mercury out of system―his atrial fibrillation did stop.

For 10 years He had No Atrial Fibrillation

In 2010, while starting a hike, the atrial fibrillation began again. The A-Fib would last 6-8 hours and occur an average of 2 times per week. He was immediately tested for heavy metals again…continue reading Charn’s A-Fib story…

No Magic A-Fib Pill: Learn All Your Treatment Options


“To date, the magic pill that will permanently cure your A-Fib probably doesn’t exist.

‘Drugs don’t cure A-Fib. But merely keep it at bay.’ Dr. Dhiraj Gupta, Heart rhythm specialist, UK”


Don’t let your doctor leave you in A-Fib.

Educate yourself about Atrial Fibrillation. Learn about all treatments for Atrial Fibrillation. Review all your options on our page, Decisions About Treatment Options.

And always aim for a Cure!

 

 

 

Eye Disease: The Atrial Fibrillation Link to Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve and is a leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old. While anyone can get glaucoma, those at higher risk include African Americans over age 40, everyone over age 60 especially Mexican Americans, and people with a family history of the disease. Blindness can often be prevented with early treatment.

Link with Atrial Fibrillation: Glaucoma may be related to ischemia (when your heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen) and has been linked with Atrial Fibrillation. Among A-Fib patients, glaucoma is found especially among those who are female, 60+ years old, take the medication Warfarin and have high blood pressure.

Risk May Be Dormant

Patients may be at risk of glaucoma for years but not develop any signs. Then something changes abruptly, such as developing atrial fibrillation, and the glaucoma-related damage begins to occur.

What Patients Need to Know

When you have Atrial Fibrillation, you should be tested for glaucoma regularly (most ophthalmologists will include a glaucoma test as part of your regular eye care).

if you fall into one of the high-risk groups for the disease, make sure to have your eyes examined through dilated pupils every one to two years by an eye care professional. Graphic of tooth A-fib.com

See the dentist too: Besides regular visits with your eye doctor, A-Fib patients should see their dentist regularly, too! See my article about the link between A-Fib, inflammation and gum disease: Brush & Floss! Is Oral Hygiene Linked to A-Fib

https://nei.nih.gov/glaucoma

References for this Article

When Tracking Your Heart: Is a Wrist-Worn Heart Rate Monitor Just as Good as a Chest Strap Monitor?

Wrist-worn heart rate fitness trackers like Fitbit and Apple Watch have become trendy wrist accessories, but are they accurate enough for Atrial Fibrillation patients? How do fitness trackers compare to chest strap heart rate monitors (HRMs)?

What’s Behind the Discrepancies? Different Technologies

Chest-band HRM transmitted to wristwatch

Chest strap style heart rate monitors are consumer products designed for athletes and runners, but used by A-Fib patients, too. They measure the electrical activity of the heart. They’re usually a belt-like elastic band that wraps snugly around your chest with a small electrode pad against your skin and a snap-on transmitter.

The pad needs moisture (water or sweat) to pick up any electrical signal. That information is sent to a microprocessor in the transmitter that records and analyzes heart rate and sends it to a wrist watch display or smartphone app.

Optical HRM with LEDs on inside

Wrist fitness trackers typically sit on your wrist and don’t measure what the heart does. Most glean heart-rate data through “photoplethysmography” (PPG) with small LEDs on their undersides that shine green light onto the skin on your wrist.

The different wavelengths of light interact differently with the blood flowing through your wrist, the data is captured and processed to produce understandable pulse readings on the band itself (or transmitted to another device or app).

HRMs Research Study

A 2016 single-center study was designed to find out whether wrist-worn heart rate monitors readings are accurate. Four brands of fitness trackers were compared against the Polar H7 chest strap heart monitor (HRM) and, as a baseline, with a standard electrocardiogram (ECG).

On a personal note, I used a Polar-brand chest-band monitor when I had A-Fib, and that’s what I recommend to other A-Fib patients.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic enrolled 50 healthy adults, mean age, 37 years. In addition to ECG leads and the Polar chest-band heart rate monitor, patients were randomly assigned to wear two different wrist-worn heart rate monitors (out of the four).

Participants completed a treadmill protocol, in which heart rate was assessed at rest and at different paces: between two and six miles per hour. Heart rate was assessed again after the treadmill exercise during recovery at 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 90 seconds.

In total, 1,773 heart rate values ranging from 49 bpm to 200 bpm were recorded during the study. Accuracy was not affected by age, BMI or sex. The four wrist-worn heart rate monitors assessed were the Apple Watch (Apple), Fitbit Charge HR (Fitbit), Mio Alpha (Mio Global) and Basis Peak (Basis).1

HRMs Study Results

Chest Strap Monitors: The chest strap monitor was the most accurate, with readings closely matching readings from the electrocardiogram (ECG).

The chest strap monitor was the most accurate, closely matching the ECG; The wrist-bands were best when the heart was at rest.
In general, the chest straps were more accurate because the sensor is placed closer to the heart (than a wristband), allowing it to capture a stronger heart-beat signal.

Wrist-Worn Monitors: Accuracy of wrist-worn monitors was best at rest and became less accurate with more vigorous exercise, which presumably is when you’d most want to know your heart rate.

None of the wrist-worn monitors achieved the accuracy of a chest strap-based monitor. According to the electrocardiograph, some wrist-worn devices over- or underestimated heart rate by 50 bpm or more.

What Patients Need to Know

Blue-tooth chest-band with smartphone app at A-Fib.com

Blue-tooth chest-band with smartphone app

Wrist-band optical heart-rate monitors may be more convenient or comfortable and have advanced over the years. But in this small study, researchers found that chest-strap monitors were always more accurate than their wrist counterparts and more reliable and consistent.

When monitoring your heart beat rate is important to you (while exercising or doing heavy work), you’ll want to stick with an electrode-containing monitor (chest band-style, shirts or sports bras with built-in electrode pads, etc.).

To help you choose a HRM, see Steve’s Top Picks: DIY Heart Rate Monitors for A-Fib Patients at Amazon.

Bottom line 
Leave the wrist-worn trackers for the casual fitness enthusiasts

References for this Article
Footnote Citations    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Safety Recall of Basic Peak Watch, Sept. 16, 2016: http://www.mybasis.com/safety/

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Have you read…Steve’s A-Fib Alerts: May 2017 Issue

The A-Fib Alerts May 2017 issue is out and includes reports about A-Fib and Dementia, building your ‘A-Fib Dream Team’, a new FAQ: Is there any guarantee to be sure I never have a stroke?, two new reports about inherited A-Fib and your family, and more! Read our May 2017 newsletter today.

Our A-Fib Alerts is presented in a condensed, easy-to-scan format. Use our link to read online, or even better—have our A-Fib Alerts sent directly to you via email. Subscribe NOW.

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The Effect of Diet & Nutrition on Your A-Fib: My Top 5 Articles

Many patients wonder if eating or avoiding the right foods might lessen or improve their A-Fib symptoms. While we don’t know of any diet to “cure” your A-Fib, you might consider the “DASH” eating plan recommended by U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute which reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The following articles may answer some of your A-Fib-related questions involving diet and nutrition:

1. Caffeine: “Is drinking coffee (tea, colas, other products with caffeine) going to make my A-Fib worse or trigger an A-Fib attack?”

2. Diet: Is a whole food or organic diet helpful for patients with Atrial Fibrillation? Is there any research recommending one or the other?”

3. Personal A-Fib story: “No Way Am I Having an Ablation! But Diet and Meds Disappoint—A-Fib Free After Ablation” by Saul Lisauskas

4. Nutrition: Why are doctors so opposed to nutrition as a way of helping A-Fib. I tried to talk with my doctor about magnesium and other nutritional supplements. ‘There’s no proof that they work,’ was his response.”

5. Holistic Approach:  “I want nutritional counseling and a more integrated approach to my A-Fib treatment plan. How do I find a doctor with a more “holistic” approach?”

Be a Sleuth: Keep an Episode Diary

Keep a diary of your A-Fib episodes

To determine if certain foods or beverages may be triggering the number and duration of your A-Fib attacks, start by keeping a log or diary. When an episode occurs, note the day & time, duration and what you were doing, eating or drinking.

As you collect data, scrutinize your log entries for patterns and specific triggers. This may lead you to lessen or eliminate certain foods or beverages or even activities that appear to trigger your A-Fib. You may want to share your log with your doctor.

Updated Steve’s List: US Doctors Installing the Watchman Device

If you are at high risk for stroke but can’t or don’t want to take anticoagulants, your doctor may suggest closing off the Left Atrial Appendage using an occluder such as the FDA approved Boston Scientific WATCHMAN™.

Steve’s List of Specialists Installing the Watchman: My original list of doctors installing the Watchman was limited to those EPs participating in the clinical trials. In 2015 the FDA approved the Watchman for use in the U.S. Since then my list of doctors installing the Watchman has expanded. (Internationally, the Watchman has been available since 2009.)

Watchman device - A-Fib.com

Watchman occlusion device by Boston Scientific

How to Find a Specialist: Today, you can visit the Boston Scientific website to find medical centers installing the Watchman device; just enter a state or postal code.

Use Steve’s List instead: When looking to install a Watchman device, I recommend you seek an electrophysiologist (EP) who is certified in “Clinical Cardiac Electrocardiography”. Use my list which is organized by state and city. Go to, Steve’s List of Specialists Installing the Watchman Device.

To learn more about the Watchman, see: The Watchman Device: My Top 5 Articles.

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