We’ve updated our article: Sleep Apnea: Home Testing with WatchPAT Device and the Philips Respironics.
There are several FDA-approved sleep study devices you can use in the comfort of your own bedroom to determine if you have sleep apnea. And it’s convenient (especially if being away from home overnight is problematic).
Everyone with A-Fib should be tested for sleep apnea. It’s now available at a fraction of the cost of an in-lab sleep study ($250-$300 vs. $1100-$2,000).
The more people like their doctors, the healthier they tend to be. This is what researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found in a review study where they examined 13 research reports on this subject.
Being the “Best in the Field” Isn’t Enough
Even if a doctor(s) is the best in their field and an expert in your condition, that may not help you if you don’t communicate well with them and don’t relate to them. If we don’t like our doctors, we’re less likely to listen to them.
Some doctors (particularly those from overseas) often communicate poorly, or talk in “medicalize” and are nearly incomprehensible. Other doctors come from a medical school with a tradition of aloofness and keeping a distance from patients (with women in particular).
Relationship-Based Strategies Improve Patients’ Health
This mega-study review looked at doctors who were trained in “relationship-based strategies” such as making eye contact, listening well, and helping patients set goals. The results: these strategies significantly improved their patients’ health compared to control groups. Their patients achieved lower blood pressure, increased their weight loss, reduced pain and improved glucose management.
If You Don’t Like Your Doctor, Look For a New One!
It’s intuitive, isn’t it? But now a review of studies backs it up. If you like, trust and respect your doctor(s), you’re more likely to accept and follow their advice. Developing a good relationship helps you feel comfortable asking questions and getting feedback in a give-and-take environment.
If you don’t have this rapport with your current doctor(s), it’s worth looking elsewhere for a new doctor―even if they are “the best” in their field.
In the article, Know When it’s Time to Fire your Doctor, CNN.com Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen discusses five ways to know when it’s time to think about leaving your doctor, and the best way to do it. The highlights are:
1. When your doctor doesn’t like it when you ask questions
2. When your doctor doesn’t listen to you
3. If your doctor can’t explain your illness to you in terms you understand
4. If you feel bad when you leave your doctor’s office
5. If you feel your doctor just doesn’t like you — or if you don’t like him or her
Don’t Be Afraid to Fire Your Doctor
Changing doctors can be scary. According to Robin DiMatteo, a researcher at the University of California at Riverside who’s studied doctor-patient communication. “”I really think it’s a fear of the unknown. But if the doctor isn’t supporting your healing or health, you should go.”
To learn more, read our page: How to find the right doctor for you and your treatment goals.
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Joe first noticed a pronounced arrhythmia in January 2016. He had a stress test done and a sonogram of his heart. All were good, but doctors could see he was going in and out of Atrial Fibrillation. Read what happened next for Joe Kempin:
In early March, I got very sick with a urinary tract infection and a 104° temperature. I could not eat and was in constant A-Fib. After I got well with antibiotics, I stayed in A-Fib.
We tried Cardioversions twice. Each one took me out of A-Fib for 3 days, but then right back into it. I was on blood thinners (Eliquis) then.
Experience of a Lifetime: Ablation at Fairfax Hospital
On May 18 I had an ablation. Wheeling me into the operating room was an experience of a lifetime. This was a brand new hospital building at Fairfax Hospital. The operating room was right out of Star Trek. Huge! …Continue reading Joe’s A-Fib story…
The Longer You Have A-Fib, the Greater the Risk
A-Fib begets A-Fib. The longer you have A-Fib, the greater the risk of your A-Fib episodes becoming more frequent and longer, often leading to continuous (Chronic) A-Fib. (However, some people never progress to more serious A-Fib stages.)
Fibrosis makes the heart stiff, less flexible and weak, reduces pumping efficiency and leads to other heart problems. The abnormal rhythm in your atria causes electrical changes and enlarges your atria (called remodeling) making it work harder and harder over time.
Don’t let your doctor leave you in A-Fib. Educate yourself. Any treatment plan for A-Fib must try to prevent or stop remodeling and fibrosis. And always aim for a Cure!
To learn more, read my editorial, Leaving the Patient in A-Fib—No! No! No!
Educate Yourself—and Always Aim for a Cure!
The author of Bad Pharma does an excellent job of shining a light on the truths that the drug industry wants to stay hidden.
Those truths include how they mislead doctors and the medical industry through sales techniques, and manipulate consumers into becoming life-long drug customers. (For doctors that industry influence begins in medical school and continues throughout their practice.)
We also learn truths about the internal workings of the medical academia, the U.S. FDA, and medical journals publishing. Here are a few highlights from Bad Pharma.
Manipulating Clinical Drug Trials
As consumers, how do we really know which drugs are best? The U.S. FDA protects us, right? Well sort of. Read how trials for drugs and their perceived usefulness can be manipulated, poor trials go unpublished or outright suppressed, and underperforming trials are stopped early or the trial period extended.
One way to manipulate clinical trials starts at the beginning―the design of the trial. Often, few comparison studies are done. Far more common are new drug studies going against placebo pills (that everyone knows don’t work). This helps inflate findings, makes new drugs look more effective than older drugs―because they were never compared against each other.
Bad Pharma & the Cost of Doing Business
Learn how pharmaceutical companies legitimately funnel $10 million to $20 million a year to major medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association. So, are we surprised then that studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry are much more likely to get published by these influential journals?
Direct to Consumer Drug Sales
Did you know drug companies spend twice as much on marketing and advertising as on researching and developing new drugs? (I was shocked.)
Of special interest to me is the ‘Direct to Consumer’ drug sales which has significantly increased drug sales in the U.S. ‘Direct to Consumer’ drug sales is so misleading that it is banned in all countries except two: the U.S. and New Zealand. (No wonder that 70% of drug companies’ profit comes from the U.S.)
To be specific, I hate those misleading TV commercials that target A-Fib patients. What these ads for anticoagulants don’t tell you is:
• You are on their meds for life! (they want lifelong customers!)
• These meds do nothing to treat your A-Fib (only your risk of stroke)
• A-Fib can be cured (you don’t have to be on meds for the rest of your life)
These ads for anticoagulant medications imply if you just take their pill once day, you’ve taken care of your A-Fib. Wrong!
Well Written, Easy to Understand
Bad Pharma, is written in an easy-to-understand manner (you don’t need a medical or science degree). If you wish, you can skim through the book to get an overview, then stop and read a topic of interest. Or you can dig in for a full read, including the authors’s research and other references (documented in footnotes with citations.)
Check on Your Doctor
After reading how big Pharma may be influencing your doctor, you can now find out. In the U.S., with the passing of the Sunshine Act (part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), we can now research if a doctor has received pharma money to prescribe their products. Just go to the Open Payments or Dollars for Doctors website.
One of our tenets at A-Fib.com, is ‘Educate Yourself’! If you want to be a more savy consumer of health care services, I highly recommend Bad Pharma. I also recommend Ben Goldacre’s other book, Bad Science.
Bonus Idea: If you pair this book with “Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics” by Steven Woloshin, you’ll have a complete course on how the drug industry skillfully markets their products.
‘I Want to Cure My A-Fib, Not Just Manage It.’
Keep in Mind: For many A-Fib patients, their best outcome came about only when they told their doctor, ‘I want to cure my A-Fib, not just manage it.’ (And, if needed, they also changed doctors.)
How to Find the Best Doctor for You
To be cured of your A-Fib, you may need to ‘fire’ your current doctor.
Seek an electrophysiologist (EP), a cardiologist who specializes in heart rhythm problems (the electrical functions of the heart). Do your research.
Look for a doctor who will partner with you to create a treatment plan—a path to finding your cure or best outcome. To learn how to make this happen, read Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib.
Personal A-Fib Story: To learn the importance of finding the right doctor, read Michele Straube’s personal A-Fib experience: Cured after 30 years in A-Fib.
Run―don’t walk―to the best EP you can afford.
Drinking too little alcohol? Coffee? Juice? No, we’re talking about just plain ol’ water. Drinking too little water leads to dehydration which can trigger an Atrial Fibrillation episode, and raises the risk for blood clots (it makes the blood less viscous).
Hydration Affects the Function of Your Heart
Your body contains significant amounts of water. A change in fluid levels in your body can affect a number of bodily functions, including heart function. When you have atrial fibrillation, drinking enough water is important.
When you’re dehydrated, your body’s electrolytes (electrolytes in general, and sodium and potassium in particular) are crucial for heart health. Electrolyte levels plummet when you’re dehydrated. This can lead to abnormal heart rhythm.
Dehydration Risk Factors
Your risk of dehydration isn’t just from sweating during exercise or from the extreme heat of summer. Other risks include high altitudes, the desert, exhaustion and increased stress, missing meals or a change in eating patterns and vomiting or diarrhea.
Do you travel by plane often? Flying dehydrates you because the humidity level on a plane is usually less than 10%. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks also dry you out.
Cold weather can also dehydrate you. When it’s cold, the body works to maintain its core temperature, and works less to keep ideal fluid balance. And since you don’t feel thirsty when it’s cold, you often don’t think about drinking extra water.
The Good News, The Bad News
The good news is that usually dehydration on its own won’t cause an A-Fib episode. The bad news, when combined with other well known triggers, it will.
For example, you risk dehydration when traveling by air (low humidity) during the hectic holidays (tired and stressed), drinking too much coffee (diuretic effect), and vacationing in the desert (dry climate).
Under normal conditions, 64 to 80 ounces of water per day is considered enough. On a plane, a good rule of thumb is 6 to 12 ounces of water (or club soda) for every hour in the air.
Be aware of the not-so-obvious signs of dehydration: dry mouth, constipation, feeling tired and sleepy, low urine output, dry skin and dizziness or lightheadedness. Furthermore, your body may misinterpret the need for water as the need for food making you feel hungry, when what you really need is more water.
Drink more water when… the weather is too hot or too cold, when traveling by plane, when you’ve skipped meals, when exhausted or you’re sick. For each coffee or alcohol beverage, have a glass or two of water.
Check your hydration level. Each body has individual needs for water intake. If you’re drinking enough, look at the color of your urine when you go to the washroom. If your urine is clear or light yellow, you are well hydrated. If it’s darker, you need to drink more water.
Be Aware—Stay Hydrated
Sometimes it’s the lack of a dietary staple that causes the heart to misfire, and in many cases, that substance is water.
As fatigue or muscle ache turns into thirst, you’re already pretty far down that path to dehydration. Many people don’t realize how quickly and deeply dehydration can set in, especially since the early warning signs are subtle.
Dehydration is never a healthy state, but the mineral imbalance that results can be especially troublesome for A-Fib patients.
From Brazil to France, Australia to Ireland and United Arab Emirates to Finland, A-Fib patients around the world are reading our A-Fib Alerts November 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.
It’s heart breaking to read about a young person with such a debilitating case of A-Fib, and who lives in a region with so little treatment to offer her. I am researching ways to send Ashley to the US for treatment. If you have any suggestions, Email me. We thank Ashley for sharing her story:
“As child I always had a rapid beating heart. My parents were told that soda has that effect on children, and I was no longer to ingest it. Thinking it was the soda, it was further ignored.
I’m now 21 and living with atrial fibrillation. I live in the Caribbean. There is little expertise with such a rare condition. I have been diagnosed with tachycardia (fast rate) AND bradycardia (slow rate).
Currently I don’t have a specific adult cardiologist because my case is more complicated than what meets the eye. My parents can’t afford the procedure or more tests. PLUS in September, I had an appendectomy. Needless to say it was a risky but necessary move. According to my anesthesiologist, my heart rate had to be increased twice while on the operating table.” …Continue reading Ashley’s story…
It’s not a pill, nor a medication. Magnesium is the ‘magic’ pill that improves by 34% your chances of living a long, healthy life—a mineral naturally present in many foods. Magnesium is important for anyone with a high cardiovascular risk (including patients with Atrial Fibrillation).
Insights come from researchers in Spain who carefully monitored the diets of 7,216 men and women between the ages of 55-80 (an age range more likely to develop A-Fib). The people in the highest third of magnesium intake (442 mg/day) were 34% less likely to have died from any cause over a five-year period. And they had a 59% reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, plus a 37% reduction in cancer mortality.
Why was the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) lowered by ingesting more magnesium? …Continue reading…
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is so common that at least 43% of patients with Atrial Fibrillation also suffer with it. For that reason alone, you should be tested for sleep apnea.
Aside from causing or triggering A-Fib, untreated sleep apnea can cause many other serious health threats.
Got Sleep Apnea? Your Life-Threatening Risks
Researchers at the U. of Wisconsin examined 22-years of mortality data on the study’s participants and found the following:
The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study
Beginning in 1989, the U. of Wisconsin study used a random sample of 1,522 Wisconsin state employees. The participants underwent overnight sleep apnea studies and many other tests at four-year intervals. They were not selected because they had known sleep problems. (After the testing, researchers contacted participants with severe sleep apnea and explained the health risks.)
The study reveals the numerous life-altering and life-threatening health issues associated with sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea: a condition in which one or more pauses in breathing occur while sleeping, pauses can last a few seconds to minutes and can occur 30 times or more an hour.
More EPs are Sending Patients for Sleep Studies
So many A-Fib patients also suffer from sleep apnea that many Electrophysiologists (EPs) routinely send their patients for a sleep apnea study. Some A-Fib centers have their own sleep study program. (The patient just walks down the hall to an A-Fib sleep study area.)
For some lucky patients, normal sinus rhythm (NSR) can be restored just by controlling their sleep apnea and getting a good night’s sleep.
Take Action: Sleep Apnea Can be Lethal
The Wisconsin Sleep Study findings demonstrate just how lethal sleep apnea can be. Sleep apnea isn’t a minor health problem, and it’s a condition you can do something about. (Just like A-Fib, you don’t have to just live with it).
If your significant other tells you that you pause breathing when you sleep or that you snore, do something about it! (Not everyone with sleep apnea snores, but snoring may indicate sleep apnea.)
Talk with your doctors about testing for sleep apnea. You may need an in-lab sleep study (or the newer option of a home sleep test).
Learn More About Sleep Studies
Read about in-lab and in-home sleep studies in our article, Sleep Apnea: Home Testing with WatchPAT Device and the Philips Respironics
On a Personal Note: My wife has sleep apnea (but not A-Fib). While sleeping, she would actually stop breathing for what seemed like a long time, then suddenly gasp for air. It was very scary! But now she uses a CPAP machine, sleeps soundly and wakes up rested.
Sleep apnea may run in families. Her brother has sleep apnea also.
You’re on a blood thinner for your increased stroke risk from A-Fib. But you hate it.
Is the monthly testing or diet restrictions a hassle? Is the increased risk of bleeding stressful? Have you developed side effects, i.e., gastrointestinal problems or poor kidney function? Maybe you just don’t want a lifetime on meds.
Or, perhaps you’re unable to take a blood thinner for other medical reasons. What do you do?
WATCHMAN™ Occlusion Device: The Alternative to Blood Thinners
There is an alternative to taking blood thinners―closing off your Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) with the Watchman™, an occlusion device. The LAA, a small sack located at the top of your left atrium, is where 90-95% of A-Fib strokes originate.
Inserting the Watchman is a very low risk procedure that takes as little as 20 minutes to install. Afterward, you usually don’t need to be on a blood thinner.
Review these articles to learn more about the Watchman:
Bonus: Video about the Watchman
Animation shows how the Watchman is inserted and positioned in the left atrial appendage (LAA) using a catheter; then how heart tissue grows over the Watchman, closing off the opening of the LAA trapping any blood clots. (1:04)
Last December, we posted: Got A-Fib? Add ICE to Your Cell Phone. (ICE stands for “In case of emergency” entries in your cell phone address book.)
Started by a paramedic in Britain, ICE entries allow first responders (i.e., paramedics, firefighters) to contact the cell phone owner’s next of kin to obtain important medical information.
What’s the Problem with ICE Entries?
Many modern ‘smart’ cell phones require a passcode to unlock and access the owner’s address book. This prevents medical staff from getting to your emergency contact info.
Solution: Carry a written copy, too. Write down your medical contact information and include in your wallet, medical ID bracelet or necklace. A good place to start is a wallet card as most of us usually have our wallets handy.
Print a Custom ICE Card
To help you make your ICE or medical ID, we have two Free online sources for printing your own wallet cards.
Both offer an online form (with nothing to install or download) to customize with your information. Then, print, trim, fold and add to your wallet or purse. (Note: none of your personal information is stored on their websites.)
Other Options: Key Ring or Gym Bag Tag
If you want a key ring tag, ICE Gear offers a personalized laminated tag at a very reasonable price.
Similar in size to your gym or grocery loyalty tags, they can be attached to car keys, shoe laces (for runners), zippers, gym bags and more.
Made with durable, high-visibility materials. For $9.99 you get 4 tags. Shipping is free.
Related reading: ‘What Emergency Medical Info Should You Carry With You?‘
Updated November, 10, 2016
If you take several supplements (like I do), you may wonder:
“Should I take them at the same time each day? Or should I spread doses throughout the day? Should I take with meals? Or on an empty stomach?”
The best answer may depend on whether you are taking medication, on the specific supplement and/or on your personal life style.
Start with the ‘Suggested Use’
Read the supplement label. Some are fairly specific, i.e., “with or without food”, or “with food” or “on an empty stomach”; or specific time (morning or bedtime) or in divided dosages. Make notes for each supplement. Download and use this FREE form to help you keep track of everything.
Do you Have Other Medical Conditions?
If you have diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, first talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Combining supplements with prescription medications, can produce unexpected or life-threatening results.
They may offer advice specific to the combinations of your meds and supplements.
Do Some Reading, Take Some Notes
The best time to take a specific vitamin or supplement may depend on the specific supplement. Do some reading on each at the library or at a reputable website or two. Make notes of the information you find. A few examples:
• Taking a single dose multi-vitamin? It’s best to take it in the morning when nutrients are depleted and with or near breakfast so it’s broken down, then digested with the food.
• Vitamin D is best absorbed after your biggest meal, usually dinner, averaging 56 percent greater boost than those who take it without food.
• Calcium supplement, don’t take along with a multivitamin containing iron. The calcium may interfere with the iron’s absorption.
• Magnesium may be best taken in the evening, since Magnesium may support sound sleep.
Healthy Directions, Dr. David Williams
On the website Healthy Directions, Dr. David Williams offers advice about the best times to take vitamins. He lists specific vitamins and supplements and organized them into three groups, those that should be taken before meals, with meals, or in-between meals. See his article for specifics, The Best Times to Take Your Vitamins.
[Healthy Directions offers advanced nutritional supplements and guidance from highly respected integrative and alternative health doctors including Julian Whitaker, MD, Dr. David Williams, Dr. Stephen Sinatra, MD and others.]
My favorite independent research sites
For reliable, unbiased research and information on specific vitamins and supplements, we recommend these three sites (in order or preference). None of the three sell supplements (or anything else). They just offer information on vitamins, herbs, natural products and supplements.
1. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute/Integrative Medicine: “About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products”
2. Drugs.com: ‘MedFacts Natural Products Professional database’
3. The ‘Dietary Supplement Label Database’ at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Adjust for Your Life Style
You may need to adjust your supplement taking to accommodate work or school demands, family schedules, etc. For example, if you work the swing shift, your “morning” dose may need to be 1 pm, and your ‘evening’ doze may need to be at 2 am.
Or, if you often skip meals during your work day, taking equally divided doses may become erratic. So, it may be better taking your doses before you go to work.
Bottom Line: Try to be Consistent
For optimum benefit, it may take some effort to work up your supplement schedule. But you don’t have to obsess about it. Since these are ‘natural’ substances (vs. prescription drugs), you usually don’t have to be overly careful about when you take them. What’s important is do try to be consistent from day to day.
After you work out your schedule, consider using a vitamin/supplement organizer. Check out My Search for the Best 7-Day Medicine/Vitamin Organizer.
For more answers to your questions about mineral deficiencies, see our: FAQ Minerals & Supplements
For more on where to research specific vitamins and supplements see, FAQ Minerals Deficiencies: Reliable Research.
Our newest personal A-Fib story is told by a Canadian about his wife, Rani, who’s first symptom was feeling dizzy when checking in for a flight from Barbados. Over the next many months, she developed palpitations and A-Fib.
“Rani had fatigue and didn’t feel right. Before this, she was always healthy. She continued to exercise, as much as she could. But A-Fib really bothered her and made her feel both sick and anxious. Our whole family was worried about her.
Under the Canadian nationalized health care system, it took a lot of proactive action and aggressive approach to get proper help (which in the end wasn’t the proper treatment).
Almost every time we went to a doctor or a specialist, none of them had properly reviewed her file before they walked in to talk to her. It was pathetic. And we went to 4 cardiologists and 2 doctors.”
Frustrated for his wife, Moni turned to his friend, Google, and searched the web for information about Atrial Fibrillation. Read what Moni discovered and learn why they decided to cross the Canadian border to seek treatment in the U.S. …Continue reading…
How to See Through the Hype in Medical News, Ads, and Public Service Announcements
By Steven Woloshin M.D.M.S.
Review by Patti J. Ryan
Every day we are bombarded by television ads, public service announcements, and media reports warning of dire risks to our health and offering solutions. But many of these messages are incomplete, misleading, or exaggerated, leaving the average person misinformed and confused. They use fear to make us feel vulnerable.
Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics is for those who look for the footnotes when reading about healthcare claims, who question the facts behind today’s bombardment of health risk messages.
Discover why some studies should be viewed with suspicion, learn to interpret the numbers behind the messages, find the credible information—if any, and what questions patients need to ask before choosing a treatment.
Know Your Chances is written in a simple, straightforward style and can be easily understood by readers without a medical degree.
It’s a fast read. The core content of the 158 page book is only 113 pages. Includes quizzes, a glossary, summaries and other resources. Take the mystery out of medical statistics and become a better consumer of health messages.
Buy or Read for FREE
*A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
By Travis Van Slooten
This is an update to our February 2015 review. We welcome guest blogger, Travis Van Slooten, publisher of Livingwithatrialfibrillation.com. An active user of the AliveCor Kardia, he is sharing his review and opinions.
As someone that battled a-fib for 8½ years prior to having a successful ablation, the Kardia Mobile heart monitor by AliveCor really helped me and gave me peace of mind.
The Kardia monitor is a FDA-approved device that works with your smartphone and allows you to take an ECG recording of your heart from the comfort of your home, office, or anywhere.
The Kardia consists of two parts. There is the device itself, a small, wireless component that attaches or sits in close proximity to a cell phone or tablet. It syncs to the second component, a smartphone app.
It’s very straight forward to use the device. After you download the app to your smartphone, open and click on “Record Now”; then press your fingers to the device.
As soon as you click on the green “Record Now” button, with your fingers on the device, the app displays an ECG reading of your heart in real-time and records it.
The default setting is 30 seconds, but you can record up to 5 minutes if you want.
I recommend the one-minute recording, because 30 seconds is too short and anything over one minute is longer than necessary to get the data you need.
Three classifications. When completed, AliveCor’s built-in filter will tell you immediately if you are potentially in afib or not. The three classifications you’ll potentially get are:
• Possible Afib
|VIDEO: AliveCor Kardia Review by Actualidad iPad
Best footage I could find of the Kardia app screen. Shows actual capturing of the ECG signal with an inset image showing the users hand positions on the Kardia device. He repeats and adjusts his hands and you see the results on the screen. Watch 1st 3:00 min. Followed by report screen, emailing, etc. In Spanish (can mute audio).
Legally, AliveCor’s filter can’t say you are definitely in afib; so if you’re in afib, it will say, “Possible Afib.” If you get this message, you’ll want to share the ECG with your doctor, which you can easily do within the app. You can also send the ECG to AliveCor’s ECG analysis service from within the app for a fee to get an interpretation.
The “normal” classification is self-explanatory. If your heart is in normal sinus rhythm (NSR), you’ll get this message. This is the classification you hope to see!
The “unclassified” classification is a bit trickier. This means one of two things. You’re either having an arrhythmia other than afib such as PVCs, PACs, tachycardia, bradycardia, etc., or the device wasn’t held properly so an accurate recording wasn’t taken.
If you get the unclassified message, there are a couple things you can do. You can try another recording to see if you get the same message, or you can send the ECG to your doctor or AliveCor’s ECG analysis service for interpretation. Usually when I get this message, I find out I’m having PVCs and PACs.
Why Should Every Person with Afib Own This Device?
Let me explain how it helped me.
When I would go into afib, I knew I was in afib! I was highly symptomatic. However, I always turned to my Kardia Mobile monitor to confirm I was indeed in afib before I would take my medication. I was taking Flecainide at the time as a pill-in-the-pocket approach to treating my atrial fibrillation. This is a very powerful antiarrhythmic drug, especially at the doses I was taking (300mg), so I didn’t want to take it unless I was absolutely sure I was in afib.
I would then use the AliveCor monitor afterwards to confirm I was back in NSR. For me, it would usually take 4-6 hours before the Flecainide would work. It was great to have the monitor to confirm when the episode was over. I would share this information with my doctor, which helped him to determine if our treatment approach was working.
Since my successful ablation back in March 2015, I haven’t had a need to use the Kardia monitor for afib specifically, but now I use it in my battle with PVCs and PACs.
Sometimes these get so intense that I feel like I’m having a minor afib episode (if there is such a thing as a minor afib episode). I use the monitor extensively to confirm I’m having just PVCs and PACs and not afib. I also use the data to keep a historical record of the number of PVCs and PACs I’m having.
As I’m sure you can see by now, this little device can provide a lot of useful information for you and your doctor.
The Drawbacks of the Kardia Mobile Monitor
I’m a big advocate of this device, but it isn’t perfect. My primary complaints about the device are that it can be very touchy at times and can provide inaccurate or misleading classifications.
Must hold the monitor “just right”. The Kardia monitor requires that you stay perfectly still to get the cleanest and most accurate ECG reading. If you move around or if you move your fingers, or if you hold the device too hard or too soft, you can get a “dirty” ECG reading or an inaccurate classification. This can be annoying as it can sometimes take 2-3 attempts to get a good reading.
Misleading classifications can be common as well. There have been many times when the app shows “Possible Afib” when I’m just having PVCs and PACs. And when I’m having PVCs and PACs, it will almost always say “Unclassified.” It would be nice if it said PVCs and/or PACs instead of leaving me in the dark with an “Unclassified” message or indicating I might be in afib.
ECG analysis service fees adds up. My other minor complaints are that the ECG analysis service is expensive, and there is no ambulatory (continuous) monitoring. Through the app, you’ll pay $9 for a technician only analysis or $19 for a cardiologist analysis and recommendation. If you’re having a lot of your ECG recordings analyzed, this can add up quickly!
Can’t monitor your heart while walking or sleeping. Given the nature of the device – having to hold it perfectly still when you want to take a recording – there is no ambulatory monitoring available. For example, you can’t monitor your heart while walking or exercising. You can’t monitor your heart while sleeping. It would be great if future versions include some kind of wearable tech to allow continuous monitoring for these situations.
Bottom Line: Still the Best Consumer Heart Monitor. Despite these drawbacks, the Kardia device is still the best available monitor of its kind in the consumer market, in my opinion. If any of these drawbacks were improved upon, it would just make the monitor that much better!
What the Future Holds for the Kardia Monitor
Just recently, AliveCor partnered with Omron. You can buy a Bluetooth-enabled Omron blood pressure monitor and store that information in the Kardia Mobile app. This will give you additional useful data of your heart health that you can use and share with your doctor.
There is also the Kardia Band that AliveCor is waiting for the approval of by the FDA. This is a band for the Apple watch. Instead of carrying the device in your pocket or attaching it to your phone like you have to now, you’ll be able to wear this band with your Apple watch and just place your thumb on it to take a recording. How convenient that will be!
If you have atrial fibrillation and you don’t own this device, I highly recommend you get one. It’s another tool in your “afib toolbox” that can help you manage your condition and give you peace of mind.
We are grateful to Travis for sharing his first-hand experience and opinions. Visit his blog for a more extensive review of the AliveCor Kardia.
Travis Van Slooten is a blogger, internet marketer and atrial fibrillation patient who has been passionate about providing knowledge, inspiration, and support to fellow afibbers ever since his diagnosis in 2006. You can follow him on his blog or his afib Facebook page.
Any treatment plan for Atrial Fibrillation must address the increased risk of clots and stroke. By far the most commonly used medicine for stroke prevention is the anticoagulant warfarin (brand name Coumadin).
But warfarin is a tough drug to take long term with monthly blood tests and possible side effects. These are my top 5 articles to help you understand warfarin therapy, the associated risks and some of the alternatives.
Review these articles to learn more about Warfarin therapy:
Bonus: Video about Warfarin
Living with Warfarin: Patient Education
Excellent introduction to anticoagulant therapy with warfarin (Coumadin). Patients and medical professionals (clinical nurse, doctors, a pharmacist and clinical dietician) discuss the practical issues associated with taking warfarin. (16:22) Uploaded on Mar 7, 2011. Produced by Johns Hopkins Medicine.
An Alternative to Blood Thinners
Do you hate having to take Coumadin? Hate the monthly testing? Bothered by side effects? An alternative to taking blood thinners is closing off your Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) with the Watchman, an occlusion device. Learn more: The Watchman™ Device: The Alternative to Blood Thinners.
Other A-Fib Patients Have Been Where You Are Right Now
Many A-Fib.com readers have shared their personal experiences with A-Fib (starting with Steve Ryan’s story). Told in the first-person, many stories span years, even decades. Symptoms will vary, and treatments choices run the full gamut.
Each author tells their story to offer you hope, to encourage you and to bolster your determination to seek a life free of A-Fib. Learn more at: Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope.
Browse Over 80 Personal Stories of Hope and Encourage
Want to read stories by patients in your age group? Or from patients with your symptoms? Go to the page titled ‘Listed by Subject’.
We have a few major categories: by Cause, by Risk Factor, by Symptom, by Age group/Years with A-Fib, and by Treatment. Each category has several subcategories. Browse by subject.
Personal A-Fib Story: Read Robert Dell’s personal A-Fib story: “Daddy is always tired.” Daddy needed his life back.
Read how others found the courage
to seek their A-Fib cure.