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


A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice #6: Take an Aggressive Approach to Treatment


Don’t settle. Be Courageous. Be Aggressive.’


Joy Gray, Manchester, New Hampshire: “A-Fib tends to be a progressive disease, so taking an aggressive approach to treatment early on may be your best option.”

Michele Straub, Salt Lake City, Utah: “Do not take ‘this is as good as it gets’ as an answer— do your own research about what’s possible and take a co-leadership role with your doctor.” 

Sheri Weber, Boyce, Virginia: “A-Fib hardly ever gets better. Be aggressive. Anger and determination led me to researching options. Find the solution that fits you best. Every case is different.

Read A-Fib Patient Stories of Hope and Courage: Other A-Fib patients have been where you are right now.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. Go to: Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope and Encouragement.

Read how others found the courage to seek their A-Fib cure.


‘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.

Most Asked Q&As About Coping with the Day-to-Day Issues

Here at A-Fib.com, we have answered thousands of questions from A-Fib patients—many of the same questions you may have. Under Coping with Your A-Fib: Day-to-Day Issues, here are a few of the questions we answered:

1.  Specialist: I like my cardiologist, but he has not talked about me seeing an Electrophysiologist [heart rhythm specialist]. Should I ask for a second opinion?”

2.  Forewarning? Is there any way to predict when I’m going to have an A-Fib attack?”

3.  Exercise: Can I damage my heart if I exercise in A-Fib? Should I exercise when in A-Fib or skip it and rest?”

Coping With Your Atrial Fibrillation: Day-to-Day Issues

Coping with the Day-to-Day Issues at A-Fib.com

Coping with the Day-to-Day Issues

Other questions under Coping with the Day-to-Day Issues address A-FlutterMedical Marijuana, PVC/PACsDIY heart monitors, Hereditary A-Fib and more.

Go to Coping With Your Atrial Fibrillation: Day-to-Day Issues to review all our posted questions, Browse the list and ‘click’ on any question to jump to the answer.

More Categories of Question & Answers

For all our Q & A lists, go to our page Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) by Patients with Atrial Fibrillation.

Does a Successful Catheter Ablation Have Side Benefits? How About a Failed Ablation?

Are there additional dividends from a successful catheter ablation for A-Fib—beyond being back in normal sinus rhythm (NSR)? Research says, yes!

Additional Benefits of Successful Catheter Ablation

“The benefit of catheter ablation extends beyond improving quality of life…If successful, ablation improves life span,” says, lead author Dr. Hamid Ghanbari, an electrophysiologist at U.of Mich. Frankel Cardiovascular Center.

Illustration of RF ablation

His comments are based on a study that examined 10 years of follow-up medical data on over 3,000 adults who received RF catheter for paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation. Researchers found that staying in normal sinus rhythm (NSR) was associated with a 60% reduction in the expected rate of cardiovascular mortality (risk of death from stroke and other cardiovascular events).

In another study (Anselmino), a meta-analysis of 26 studies involved 1,838 A-Fib patients who had undergone a catheter ablation. Post-ablation follow-up averaged 23 months. Examining the patient follow-up data, researchers found a significant 13% improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction (EF), i.e., the heart’s blood pumping efficiency.

In addition, there was a significant reduction in the number of patients who formerly had an ejection fraction of less than 35% (more patients improved their EF ratio out of the life-threatening range). Blood pressure levels were also improved.

Summary of Research Findings: These studies reveal some of the real benefits to patients after a successful catheter ablation that go beyond being in normal sinus rhythm (NSR):

• improved quality of life
• significantly lower risk of cardiac-related mortality
• better heart pumping efficiency for more patients (ejection fraction, EF)
• improved blood pressure levels

You may ask, do these side-benefits depend on the catheter ablation eliminating the patient’s A-Fib?

Ever Wonder If There Are Benefits from a Failed Ablation?

Catheter ablation from Cleveland Clinic

VIDEO: Catheter ablation, Cleveland Clinic

Researchers have studied the follow-up data of failed ablations and found a few ‘side’ benefits.

A clinical trial (Pokushalov) showed that, when ablation fails to eliminate paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, a second try is more successful in returning the patient to sinus rhythm than medication alone; it also slows the progression from paroxysmal A-Fib to persistent A-Fib.

In addition, some patients found their A-Fib symptoms were less intense or shorter in duration. (Might be attributed to an improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction.)

Other patients found they could take certain medications that prior to their ablation had been ineffective.

Summary of Research Findings: These studies reveal some of the real benefits to patients even if their catheter ablation doesn’t return them to normal sinus rhythm:

• second ablation is more successful than medication alone
• second ablation slows progression from paroxysmal to persistent A-Fib
• symptoms were shorter or less intense
• certain medications worked that didn’t work before

A catheter ablation can profoundly change one’s life, even if you need a 2nd ablation.

Conclusion

A catheter ablation can profoundly change one’s life, even if you need a 2nd ablation. 

So, either way, a catheter ablation offers benefits to Atrial Fibrillation patients. Even if you need a second ablation (or a third), know that you may still reap substantial benefits from the previous “failed” ablation.

For more about the benefits of ablation, see Live Longer―Have a Catheter Ablation!

References for this article

Don’t Settle. Learn Your Treatment Options


“Don’t Settle…for a lifetime on medication. Seek your A-Fib cure!”

From Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure


Treating patients with drugs but leaving them in A-Fib, overworks the heart, leads to fibrosis and increases the risk of stroke and dementia.

Don’t let your doctor leave you in A-Fib. Educate yourself. Learn your treatment options, see Which of the A-Fib Treatment Options is Best for Me? And always aim for a Cure!

 

Increased Dementia Risk Caused by A-Fib: 20 Year Study Findings

Dementia risk is “strongly associated” with younger patients who develop Atrial Fibrillation. That’s the finding of a 20-year study among 6,196 people without established A-Fib.

Rotterdam Study of Cardiovascular Disease

In a 20-year observational study of participants in the long-term Rotterdam Study, researchers tracked 6,514 dementia-free people. Researchers were monitoring participants for dementia and Atrial Fibrillation. At the start of the study (baseline), 318 participants (4.9%) already had A-Fib. 

“The Rotterdam Study” is a long-term study started in 1990 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Cardiovascular disease is just one of several targeted diseases.

Results: A-Fib and Dementia

During the course of the study, among 6,196 people without established A-Fib: 11.7% developed A-Fib
and 15.0% developed incident dementia. Other findings:

• Development of A-Fib was associated with an increased risk of dementia in younger people (<67 years old)

• Dementia risk was strongly associated with younger people (<67 years old) who developed A-Fib

• Dementia risk was not strongly associated in the elder participants who developed A-Fib.

The Rotterdam researchers didn’t state explicitly that A-Fib “causes” dementia. Instead they concluded that A-Fib was “strongly associated” with dementia. Because there may be other factors at play, that’s as far as researchers can go (though they did use regression models to adjust for age, sex, and cardiovascular risk factors).

 The younger you are when you develop A-Fib, the more important it is to seek your A-Fib cure to reduce the associated risk of developing dementia.

A-Fib Leads to or Causes Dementia

As patients we have to conclude that, all things being equal, A-Fib leads to and/or causes Dementia. This makes intuitive sense, doesn’t it?

In A-Fib we lose 15%-30% of our heart’s ability to pump blood to our brain, and to the rest of our body. Research confirms that older adults with dementia had significantly reduced blood flow into the brain compared with older adults with normal brain function or young adults.

What Patients Need To Know

The bottom line, the younger you are when you develop A-Fib and/or the longer you have A-Fib, the greater your risk of developing dementia. Seek your A-Fib cure sooner rather than later.

To decrease your increased risk of dementia, your goal should be to get your A-Fib fixed and get your heart beating normally again. We can’t say it enough:

Do not settle for a lifetime on meds. Seek your A-Fib cure.

References for this article

A-Fib Recurrence Post Ablation: Should you Have a Second Ablation? or Anti-Arrhythmic Drug Therapy?

Evgeny Pokushalov, MD, PhD

E. Pokushalov, MD, PhD

It’s disappointing when your heart doesn’t return to normal sinus rhythm (NSR) after your catheter ablation. What’s your next step, your follow-up treatment?

In his study, researcher Evgeny Pokushalov asked several related questions:

“If A-Fib recurs after a patient’s initial catheter ablation procedure, which is the better follow-up treatment? A second catheter ablation or taking antiarrhythmic meds?”

The Three-Year Study

In this study, 154 paroxysmal A-Fib patients who had a failed ablation were divided into two randomized groups.

A catheter ablation can profoundly change one’s life. And, even if you need a second ablation one.

The first group had a second ablation, the other group was put on antiarrhythmic drug therapy (AADs). The two groups were monitored by an implantable loop recorder, followed for three years, then compared.

Study Results

After three years, researchers found A-Fib present in 5.6% of the re-ablation group. In the antiarrhythmic drug group, 18.8% had A-Fib.

A second significant finding was the rate of paroxysmal A-Fib progressing to ‘persistent A-Fib’.  The re-ablation group had a progression rate of 4%, while the progress to “permanent A-Fib’ was 23% in the drug therapy group.

Expected and Unexpected Findings

I had expected (and it was confirmed) that the group getting a second ablation would have better results than the group on antiarrhythmic drug (AAD) therapy.

…progress to permanent A-Fib was 23% in the drug therapy group.

Many studies have documented this when patients undergo their first ablations vs AAD therapy.

What I didn’t expect was the rate of progression to persistent A-Fib in the second group. Nearly one-fourth (23%) of patients taking antiarrhythmic drugs progressed to persistent A-Fib after a failed ablation!

The Message is Clear 

To reduce your risk of progressing to persistent A-Fib, if you have a failed ablation, you are best served getting a second ablation rather than relying on antiarrhythmic drugs.

Are there benefits from a catheter ablation even when the patient’s A-Fib has not been eliminated? Yes! To learn more, see: Are There Benefits from a Failed Ablation? Yes!

References for this article

A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice #5: Get Treatment Sooner Rather Than Later


Don’t wait. Don’t delay. Get Treatment as soon as practical.


Daniel Doane, Sonora, California, USA: “I didn’t realize how continued A-Fib so drastically remodels your heart. Get your A-Fib taken care of. It won’t go away. It may seem to get better, but it will return.

Roger Meyer, Columbus, Ohio: “I can now say, first hand, that there ARE bad effects from A-Fib and especially from A-Fib that is not treated early. My best advice: Don’t let A-Fib wreak its havoc untreated!”

Joan Schneider, Ann Arbor, M: “Know that paroxysmal AF becomes chronic. Drugs only work for so long. Heart modification will occur, and options will become few. Get with a great EP  and/or AF clinic and find your cure.”

Don’t Delay—Seek Your A-Fib Cure.


‘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.

Lifestyle Changes or Alternative Treatments Working for You? Contribute to 2nd Edition of ‘Beat Your A-Fib’

Amazon.com review of Beat Your A-Fib book at A-Fib.comAll Atrial Fibrillation patients! We need your input!

Share with us! Help us write a new chapter for our book!

We are planning the 2nd edition of our book, Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure.

New chapter: Non-Surgical/Non-Drug Treatments: We need five or six anecdotes or stories for a new chapter to focus on non-drug and non-surgical treatment options.

Have lifestyle changes or alternative methods reduced or eliminated your symptoms? Email us! 

Is exercising or stress-reduction techniques working? Weight-loss or dietary changes? Use of minerals or supplements? Chiropractic treatment or Yoga? Other means of improvement? We’re interested in anything that’s helping you.

You don’t have to be ‘cured’ to share your story. Just actively pursuing your best outcome.

Email us. If something is working for you, we’d love to hear from you! Just email us with your contribution: pattijryan@a-fib.com or ssryan@a-fib.com.

♥ ♥ ♥

Beat Your A-Fib: Continues as a Bestseller on Amazon.com

A-Fib Patients: Seek to Cure Your A-Fib —Not Just Manage It


For many A-Fib patients their best outcome came about only when they told their doctors, “I want to cure my A-Fib not just manage it.”

From Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure


Don’t Settle for a Life on Meds

You don’t have to live a life on medications. Seek your cure. For encouragement, browse our library of over 90 first-person stories by patients, many now A-Fib-free. Go to our Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope.

Learn All Your Treatment Options

To start, educate yourself about Atrial Fibrillation and review all your treatment options on our page: Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation.

Next, move on to the guidelines we’ve posted: Which of the A-Fib Treatment Options is Best for Me? Then, discuss these treatment options with your doctor. This should be a ‘team effort’, a decision you and your doctor will make together.

You can be free of the burden of Atrial Fibrillation. Don’t just manage your A-Fib. Seek your Cure.

 

Magnesium Deficiency & Fatal Arrhythmias: Two Videos with Dr. Carolyn Dean

Mineral deficiencies like magnesium (Mg) can force the heart into fatal arrhythmias. Magnesium is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. It’s chronically lacking in most diets. Almost everyone with A-Fib is magnesium deficient.

Two Videos About Magnesium Deficiency with Dr. Dean

C. Dean, MD

We have two videos in our A-Fib Video Library featuring Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, talking about magnesium deficiency and calcium overload:

The Best Way to Supplement Magnesium” with Dr. Carolyn Dean. Getting nutrients through food is not always possible; discusses side effects of too much Mg and how you can tell if you have a deficiency.(3:39) Go to video.

Importance of Balancing Calcium & Magnesium”. Dr. Dean discusses the importance of balancing your intake of magnesium and calcium (2:1); the benefits of both and why you need to have both in the body; the problem of ‘calcium overload’. (2:30) Go to video.

Should You Take Magnesium Supplements?

Browse our library

As Dr. Carolyn Dean states, it’s hard to get enough magnesium from today’s food. Magnesium has been depleted from the soil by industrial scale farming. Therefore, A-Fib patients should consider taking magnesium supplements. (Note: it takes about 6 months of magnesium supplements to build up healthy level of Mg.)

For more about magnesium, see my article: Cardiovascular Benefits of Magnesium: Insights for Atrial Fibrillation Patients.

My Top 5 Articles: Surgical Treatment Options for Atrial Fibrillation

When drug therapies fail or if not a candidate for catheter ablation, patients look to surgical treatments to reduce the risk of stroke, to ease symptoms or to cure their Atrial Fibrillation.

Here are my top 5 articles about the Maze & Mini-maze surgeries and role of the left atrial appendage:

  1. The Cox-Maze & Mini-Maze Surgeries and the Hybrid Surgery/Ablation
  2. Advantages of the Convergent (Hybrid) Procedure
  3. Considering a Mini-Maze? Don’t Destroy the Ganglionic Plexus
  4. The Role of the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) & Removal Issues
  5. The Watchman™ Device: The Alternative to Blood Thinners

BONUS VIDEO
Mini-Maze Surgery with Cardiac Surgeon Dr. Dipin Gupta

See our library of videos about Atrial Fibrillation

Cardiothoracic surgeon Dipin Gupta, MD, discusses this surgical treatment for persistent atrial fibrillation. The Mini-Maze is done without open-heart surgery and using a small incision on the side of the chest. Published by MedStar and Cleveland Clinic. March, 2015 (4:35) Go to video->

A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice #4: Don’t Just Manage Your A-Fib with Drugs. Seek your Cure.


Drugs have a role, but other treatment options target a cure.


Daniel Doane, Sonora, California, USA, shares his mistake: “Don’t think that the medication is a long term solution. Don’t put up with nasty side effects. That was the mistake I made. I thought I could tough out the medication as long as I stayed out of A-Fib.”

Terry DeWitt, Massachusetts, USA, advises act sooner than later: “I knew I could continue on medication for several years, but I was concerned about the remodeling of my heart. …I would need an ablation…and sooner seemed better when my heart was still strong.” 

Max Jussila, Shanghai, China, says meds are for the short term: “Do not listen to your doctors if they suggests medication as a long-term solution! The doctors who see medication as a solution commit serious negligence and are ignorant of the terrible nature and consequences of Atrial Fibrillation.”

Don’t Just Manage Your A-Fib with Meds. Seek your Cure.


‘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.

Spotlight: 3 Recent A-Fib Personal Stories of Hope and Encouragement

Our Personal Experiences stories are one of the most visited areas of A-Fib.com. Dozens have shared their personal experience (starting with the Steve Ryan’s story in 1998). Each story is told in their own words. Many stories span years, even decades. Symptoms will vary, and treatments choices run the full gamut as well as their ‘Lessons Learned’.

Recent Additions to our Gallery of A-Fib Personal Stories

These A-Fib patients have been where you are right now. Each author tells their story to help bolster your determination to seek a life free of A-Fib.

Frances K.

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. Continue reading Frances’ story.

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

Charn Deol

Charn Deol, Richmond, BC, Canada. It’s been a 23-year ordeal for him. He was 43 and had just returned to Canada after working for years in Southeast Asia when he was first aware of a few skipped heartbeats. A week later, the irregular heart beating got worse and was diagnosed as A-Fib. At the same time, Charn was discovered to have a second medical problem—very high levels of mercury in his blood. Continue reading Charn’s story.

Roger Finnern

Roger Finnern, from Tempe, AZ, shared about 4 years in chronic asymptomatic Atrial Fibrillation. He writes about being on amiodarone, how he did a sleep apnea study (at home), and used acupuncture to help reduce his A-Fib symptoms. He writes, at age 67: “I had a cardiologist who wanted me to do nothing but take a low dose aspirin and live with it. After two years of being in Chronic A-Fib, I went out on my own…”continue reading Roger’s story.

For more personal experiences, go to Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope and Encouragement.

Note: Patients sharing their personal experiences are often quite frank about the treatments received, their doctors and medical centers. Their opinions are their own.

HAVE A STORY TO SHARE?

How about you!? Do you have a personal A-Fib experience to share with other patients? It can be your own story or perhaps the story of your spouse, parent or sibling. Just tell the story from your point-of-view. If you are interesting in offering your insights and ‘lessons learned’, read how to write and submit your A-Fib story!

The Threat to Patients with “Silent A-Fib” How to Reach Them?

‘Silent A-Fib’ is a serious public health problem. Anywhere from 30%-50% of those with A-Fib aren’t aware they suffer from A-Fib and that their heart health is deteriorating.

In his A-Fib story, Kevin Sullivan, age 46, wrote about his diagnosis of Silent A-Fib.

“I was healthy, played basketball three times per week, and lifted weights. I started to notice on some days playing basketball, I was having some strange sensations in my chest. And sometimes, difficultly catching my breath. But the next day I would feel fine. I assumed this was just what it felt like to get old.”

He writes, that at the time, he happened to see a cardiologist about medication for high cholesterol:

“I went to see a cardiologist. They looked at my heart with ultrasound and asked if I could feel “that.” I asked them what they were talking about, and they told me that I was having atrial fibrillation. That was the first time I had ever heard of the phrase.”

‘Silent A-Fib’ vs. ‘Symptomatic A-Fib’

Silent (asymptomatic) A-Fib can have similar long-term effects as A-Fib with symptoms. Silent A-Fib may progress and get worse just like symptomatic A-Fib. Increased fibrosis may develop, the atrium may become stretched and dilated, the frequency and duration of the unnoticed A-Fib attacks may increase over time (electrical remodeling).

Silent A-Fib may progress and get worse just like symptomatic A-Fib.

Is “Silent A-Fib” Really Silent? Some people question whether “silent” A-Fib is really silent (from a clinical aspect). Even with Silent A-Fib, one loses 15%-30% of normal blood flow to the brain and other organs which certainly has an effect. (For Kevin Sullivan, he experienced occasional pain in his chest and shortness of breath while playing basketball.)

Those with Silent A-Fib may get used to their symptoms, or they write off the tiredness, dizziness or mental slowness like Kevin Sullivan did. Nonetheless, almost everyone in Silent A-Fib is affected and changed by their A-Fib to some extent.

‘Silent A-Fib’ More Dangerous: Increased Risk of A-Fib Stroke

When left untreated, A Fib patients have a 5X higher chance of stroke, and a greater risk of heart failure. Often, an A-Fib patient is hospitalized or dies from an A-Fib-related stroke without anyone ever knowing the patient had A-Fib.

And if the patient with A-Fib survives, they have about a 50% higher risk of remaining disabled or handicapped (compared to stoke patients without A Fib).

Tactics to Find Undiagnosed ‘Silent A-Fib’

Today, during a routine physical exam, general practitioners (GPs) will listen to your heart with a stethoscope and would notice if your heart beat was irregular. After a certain age, your exam may also include an ECG (EKG), and the tracing would show if you are in Atrial Fibrillation, even if your not aware of it. Cardiologists routinely perform an ECG and catch Silent A-Fib (like Kevin Sullivan’s cardiologist did).

But, to be detected, A-Fib must be present at the time of the ECG, and we know that A-Fib is often intermittent. If intermittent A-Fib is suspected, your EP has an array of A-Fib wearable event monitoring devices (like the band-aid-size ‘Zio patch’ monitor).

What if A-Fib isn’t even on the patient’s radar? What’s the remedy? More frequent and regular screenings! But how? First, by healthcare personnel teaching ‘at-risk age groups’ how to use pulse-taking palpation (which can be readily taught). See also the VIDEO: “Know Your Pulse” Awareness Campaign.)

Second, through community-sponsored health screening events when patients who are interacting with their healthcare provider for another reason, such as an annual flu vaccination.

Think of the lives and permanent disabilities that would be saved by inexpensive screening and easily administered monitoring for Silent A-Fib. 

The Future of Screening for Silent A-Fib: Heart-monitoring apps and devices are growing in popularity. Two FDA-approved devices are the iPhone app called Cardio Rhythm, and the AliveCor Kardia device that connects to a app-equipped smartphone.

In this emerging era of ‘wearable’ technology, the wearer, themselves, may be the first to detect an irregular heart beat.

These devices display an ECG tracing, and an irregular reading may direct the user to their doctors. In this emerging era of ‘wearable’ technology, the wearers, themselves, may be the first to detect an irregular heart beat.

What Patients Need to Know

If you have A-Fib, discuss it with your family and friends. Answer their questions. Because A-Fib runs in families, urge your immediate family members to discuss A-Fib with their doctors.

Encourage your friends over 60 years old to do the same. Support community-sponsored health screening events.

References for this Article

You Can be A-Fib Free—Just Like Me!

In honor of U.S. Independence Day this week (July 4th), let’s celebrate! A big cheer and hooray for all our A-Fib.com readers who are now free of the burden of Atrial Fibrillation.

To be inspired, go to Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope and Courage, and read my story. Or choose from over 90 stories by others who have been where you are now.

I found my freedom from A-Fib. You can too! You don’t have to settle for a lifetime on drugs. Seek your cure.

Seek your Cure at A-Fib.com

BTW: Patti found this photo and writes: “Our family’s Independence Day July 4th picnic celebrations always include a cold slice of watermelon!”

A-Fib-Related Stroke Risk: Watchman Better Than a Lifetime on Warfarin

Background: The most prescribed anticoagulant, warfarin, reduces the A-Fib-related risk of stroke by 60% to 70%. Most A-Fib clots (90%-95%) come from the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA).

An alternative to anticoagulants, the Watchman occlusion device closes off the LAA. FDA approved, it’s a very low risk procedure that takes as little as 20 minutes to install. Afterward, you would usually not need to be on blood thinners.

CT brain with Ischemic stroke at A-Fib.com

CT brain with Ischemic stroke

Effects of a Lifetime on Warfarin

Warfarin (brand name Coumadin) and other anticoagulants work by causing bleeding and are inherently dangerous.

Among other bad side effects, long-term use of anticoagulants such as warfarin have been known to not only cause hemorrhagic strokes, but also microbleeds in the brain leading to dementia. (For more, see Patient on Anticoagulation Therapy for 10 Years Develops Microbleeds and Dementia).

A 2015 study found evidence of microbleeds in 99% of subjects aged 65 or older. When imaging strength was magnified, even more microbleeds were detected. Microbleeds are thought to be predictive of hemorrhagic stroke.

Conclusion: according to current research, to reduce microbleeds, ditch the anticoagulants. You’d do better having a Watchman device installed than spending a lifetime on warfarin.

Note: there’s no guaranteed way to avoid a stroke altogether.

What About the New Anticoagulants (NOACs)?

Does this research apply to the new anticoagulants like Pradaxa, Xarelto, Eliquis and Savaysa/Lixiana? Technically no. This research only applies to warfarin.

But intuitively one would expect the same general principles to apply. All anticoagulants cause bleeding. That’s how they work.

Caveat—Long-Term Effects of Watchman?

Catheter positioning the Watchman occlusion device at the mouth of the Left Atrial Appendage

Catheter placing Watchman in LAA

What are the long-term effects of leaving a mechanical device like the Watchman inside the heart? We know that, after a few months, heart tissue grows over the Watchman device so that the LAA is permanently closed off from the rest of the heart.

It seems unlikely that complications would develop after a long period of time as has happened with warfarin. But we can’t say that for sure until enough time has passed. The first clinical trial installation of the Watchman device in the US was in 2009 and in Europe in 2004. So far, no long-term complications have developed.

EPs Installing the Watchman Device

Want to learn more about the Watchman? See my article, The Watchman™ Device: The Alternative to Blood Thinners.

To find EPs installing the Watchman, I highly recommend selecting an electrophysiologist (EP) who is certified in “Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology”. For a list of EPs meeting this criteria, see Steve’s Lists of A-Fib Doctors by Specialty: Doctors Installing the Watchman.

References for this article

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 (1 oz.) 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…

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