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


Fear & Anxiety

My 7 Ways of Coping With the Psychological Distress of Atrial Fibrillation

The psychological and emotional effects of Atrial Fibrillation can be debilitating. Recent research indicates that “psychological distress” worsens the severity of A-Fib symptoms.

(Don’t expect much help from your cardio doctors. When it comes to the psychological and emotional aspects of A-Fib, most doctors aren’t trained or often have little effective experience in dealing with it.)

A-Fib stress attack

Coping with A-Fib

Don’t be ashamed to admit how A-Fib makes you feel (especially if you’re a guy). Your psyche is just as important as your physical heart. Just acknowledging you have some of these symptoms is a step in the right direction.

Read my article Coping With the Fear and Anxiety of Atrial Fibrillation for seven ways to fight your fears and ambush your anxiety!

Atrial Fibrillation may be in your heart— 
But it doesn’t have to be in your head.

MAM 2016: My Challenge to Doctors of A-Fib Patients

Steve Ryan at the entrance to the MAM 2016 symposium - A-Fib.com

Steve at the entrance to the MAM 2016 symposium

In September, I was the only patient invited to present at MAM 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. After dinner the first night, I spoke to over 200+ surgeons and electrophysiologists (EPs).

I tried to describe for the doctors what it’s like to live in Atrial Fibrillation. Here is what I told them.

You Never Forget Your First A- Fib Attack

“As most A-Fib patients will testify, you never forget your first A- Fib attack.
Mine was 19 years ago, but I can remember it like it was yesterday. All of a sudden my heart started going crazy! It felt like my heart was trying to jump out of my chest or like there was a live fish flopping around in there. I can still feel the sheer terror, fear, confusion, anxiety and worry it created.
I remember thinking, “Am I going to die?” “Is this a heart attack?” It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
Most symptomatic A-Fib patients have a similar story.

Psychological and Emotional Effects of A-Fib

A-Fib doesn’t just affect you physically, it affects you emotionally as well.
A-Fib affects not just your heart—but also your head—and your quality of life.
It affects not just your heart—but also your head—and your quality of life.
By the way, I’ve never been to a medical conference where this aspect of A-Fib was studied.  (Today is a first, I guess.)
I wish there were some way to give you a one-minute episode of A-Fib. It would change your perception of A-Fib forever. The psychological and emotional aspects of A-Fib can be as bad as or even worse than the physical.

Living in Fear (and Anger)—A-Fib Wrecked My Life

In my case, I lived in fear of the next A-Fib attack. I went through all the emotional gamut—anxiety, fear, worry, confusion, uncertainty, frustration, depression, and finally anger at my own heart.
I went through all the emotional gamut—anxiety, fear, worry, confusion, uncertainty, frustration, depression, and finally anger at my own heart.
I’m a passionate runner. I used to run along Venice Beach. But my heart would go crazy and beat too fast. I’d have to stop and walk back to our apartment. Talk about frustration!
And A-Fib affected my work. I had a great job on the soap opera “Days Of Our Lives” as part of the technical crew. But I’d get dizzy and light headed and nearly lost my job. A-Fib wrecked my life!

Research—Then Going to Bordeaux for an Ablation

Steve Ryan before PVI, in Bordeaux, France, April 1998 at A-Fib.com

Steve Ryan before PVI, in Bordeaux, France, April 1998

To make a long story short, I locked myself in a medical library and read everything I could find about Atrial Fibrillation. During this time, I tried every drug known to man including the dreaded amiodarone which made me cough up blood. Nothing worked.
I found that doctors in Bordeaux, France, had discovered how to make people A-Fib free.
One of the doctors who treated me with catheter ablation is here today, Dr. Dipen Shah. Thanks to him, Dr. Haissaguerre and Dr. Jais I’ve been A-Fib free for 18 years. I was their first US patient.

My Challenge to Doctors treating A-Fib Patients

Today I want to challenge you. Just ask yourself:

What are you doing to help your patients deal with the Fear and Anxiety of A-Fib?

What are you doing to help them cope with the Psychological and Emotional effects of A-Fib?

Helping Your Patients Deal With Stress and Anxiety

Knowledge is Power and Control! Learning about A-Fib relieves worry and anxiety. Two ways to help your patients:
1. Reference books and websites. Give your patients a short list of web sites and books which you have read and recommend. If you do this, think of how much better informed your patients will be! 
Knowledge is Power and Control! Learning about A-Fib relieves worry and anxiety.
Hint: For distribution, list your recommendations on the back of a business card. If it comes from you, your patients will devour them.
2. Counseling and medication. You should have a list you can give out of several psychiatrists who understand A-Fib and how it affects patients.
You’ll know who needs this kind of help. Men, especially, may not admit to themselves that they need help.

Thanks for Making Us A-Fib Free

Steve S. Ryan - high jump at track meet

Steve, age 75; Making a high jump at track meet

Finally, I want to thank you on behalf of all the patients you’ve made A-Fib free. There are few medical procedures as transformative and life changing as going from A-Fib to Normal Sinus Rhythm.
There is simply no comparison between living in A-Fib and being A-Fib free! Normal Sinus Rhythm is wonderful!
There’s nothing like having a heart that beats normally again. No more tiredness, dizziness. being light headed. Your body feels alive. Your brain works. You can run and exercise again. [See the photo at right of me doing the high jump at age 75!]
Thank you for giving me my life back!”

After my talk I received enthusiastic complements and ‘fist bumps’.

I think I really made an impression. I don’t think anyone had ever talked to these doctors like that before.

My hope is that the effects of my talk will trickle down to helping others with Atrial Fibrillation.


Return to Reports of A-Fib Medical Symposiums & Conferences

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Last updated: Thursday, October 6, 2016

 

 

Seven Ways to Cope With Your A-Fib Fear and Anxiety

For a substantial portion of A-Fib patients, the impact on their ‘quality of life’ extends beyond their beating heart. Atrial Fibrillation wreaks havoc with your head as well as your heart. Anxiety, fear and worry. And at times, anger.

The psychological and emotional effects of Atrial Fibrillation can be debilitating. Recent research indicates that “psychological distress” worsens the severity of A-Fib symptoms.

Read my article Coping With the Fear and Anxiety of Atrial Fibrillation for seven ways to fight your fears and ambush your anxiety! Atrial Fibrillation may be in your heart but it doesn’t have to be in your head.

FAQs from Newly Diagnosed Patient

You are not alone. A-Fib.comFrequently Asked Questions by Newly Diagnosed Patients

Newly diagnosed Atrial Fibrillation patients have many questions about living with A-Fib. These are answers to the most frequently asked questions by patients and their families. (Click on the question to jump to the answer)

1.  Cause: Did I cause my Atrial Fibrillation? Am I responsible for getting A-Fib?”

2.  Severity: My doctor says I had an attack of Atrial Fibrillation. How much trouble am I in?”

Related Question:Is Atrial Fibrillation a prelude to a heart attack?”

Related Question: “Can I die from my Atrial Fibrillation? Is it life threatening?”

3.  Anomaly?Could my Atrial Fibrillation go away on its own? I don’t want to take any medication. Can I just wait and see?”

Related Question: “Is it possible to have a single Atrial Fibrillation attack and not have any others? I had a single episode of A-Fib and was successfully converted in the ER with meds.”

Related Question:How can I tell when I’m in A-Fib or just having something like indigestion?”

4.  Sex/Exercise:Should I cool my sex life? Can I exercise if I have Atrial Fibrillation? Should I exercise?”

5.  Driving:Can I drive my car if I have Atrial Fibrillation?”

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

Related Question: “Is there a diet I could follow which would cure my Atrial Fibrillation?”

7.  Medical ID:Should I carry a wallet card or a medical ID? I have A-Fib and take Coumadin (warfarin). In case of an A-Fib emergency, what information should I include?”

8.  Coping:I have a lot of stress at work. Does this stress cause or trigger my Atrial Fibrillation?”

Related Question:I live in fear of my Atrial Fibrillation. I never know when I’m going to get an A-Fib attack or how long it will last. How do I deal with the anxiety?”

Related Question: “Is there anything I can do to get out of an Atrial Fibrillation episode? How do others deal with their episodes?”

9.  Specialist?Should I see a cardiologist for my Atrial Fibrillation and not just my primary care doctor? (He wants to prescribe medication.) Should I also see an A-Fib specialist?”

10.  Cure?Is Atrial Fibrillation curable? Or can you only treat or control it? Should I seek a cure?”

11. Disability Benefits? “Can I get government social security disability benefits if I have Atrial Fibrillation?

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Last updated: Monday, October 2, 2017
Return to Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs Coping with A-Fib: PVCs & PACs

 FAQs Coping with A-Fib: PVCs & PACs

FAQs A-Fib afib“I have a lot of extra beats and palpitations (PVCs and/or PACs) which are very disturbing and frightful. They seem to proceed an A-Fib attack. What can or should I do about them?”

Most A-Fib doctors aren’t overly concerned about extra beats (Premature Ventricular Contractions—PVCs) or Premature Atrial Contractions—PACs), because they are considered 100% benign. Everybody gets them, not just people with A-Fib.

PACs Often Precede or Forewarn of an A-Fib Attack

However, studies indicate that PACs often precede or forewarn of an A-Fib attack. A-Fibbers seem to have more problems with extra beats than normal people. In a very important study, doctors from China showed how frequent PACs (more than 100 beats/day) actually predict who will develop A-Fib.

Also, after a successful A-Fib PVA(I) ablation, people seem to have more extra beats which tend to diminish over time as the heart heals and gets used to beating properly.

Sometimes PVCs Aren’t Always Benign

In patients with other heart problems like Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), frequent PVCs often aren’t “benign.” They can increase chances of a fatal heart attack or sudden death. PVCs have been implicated in the development of cardiomyopathy and LV (Left Ventricular) dysfunction. But catheter ablation or antiarrhythmic pharmacological agents appears to reverse this cardiomyopathy and LV dysfunction. RF ablation for frequent PVCs in patients without structural heart disease has been shown to completely reverse cardiomyopathy in numerous studies.

Catheter Ablation Can Be Performed to Free You of PACs/PVCs

If these extra beats cause you problems, beta blockers and antiarrhythmic meds may help. But sites in the heart that produce PACs/PVCs can also be mapped and ablated.

A catheter ablation, in addition to removing A-Fib producing spots in the heart, can also map and ablate areas producing PACs/PVCs. For some, frequent PACs/PVCs can be as damaging and troublesome as A-Fib. Ablations are done not just to fix A-Fib, but can also be for the sole purpose of freeing someone from frequent PACs/PVCs. They are an option patients with frequent PACs/PVCs should be aware of.

Try the Valsalva Maneuver

On the anecdotal side, some people recommend the ‘Valsalva maneuver’ (one type of Vagal maneuver) to stop PVCs/PACs—closing one’s mouth and pinching one’s nose shut while forcing exhalation, or sticking one’s head in a sink of really cold water (constricting blood vessels). For details about the Valsalva Maneuver see: FAQs Natural Therapies: The Vagal Maneuver.

For more about PVCs and PACs seePremature Atrial Contractions (PACs) Predict A-Fib.

For ‘natural’ remedies see: FAQ Minerals Deficiencies: PVCs & PACs.

(Thanks to John Thornton for calling our attention to this research on PVCs.)

Back to FAQs: Coping with Your A-Fib
Last updated: Monday, June 18, 2018

References for this article
Cha, Y. et al. Premature Ventricular Contraction-Induced Cardiomyopathy: A Treatable Condition. Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology. 2012;5:229-236. http://circep.ahajournals.org/content/5/1/229.full. Last accessed 6/29/2015

Chong, BH et al. “Frequent premature atrial complexes predict new occurrence of atrial fibrillation and adverse cardiovascular events.” Europace (European Society of Cardiology) (2012) 14, 942-947. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22183750 doi: 10.1093/europace/eur389

Dave, John. Ventricular Premature Complexes. Medscape Reference Sept. 15, 2014. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/158939-overview

Moulton, Linda. The PVC and Cardiomyopathy: Which Came First? EP Lab Digest Volume 13, Issue 1, January 2013 (/issue/8207)http://www.eplabdigest.com/articles/PVC-and-Cardiomyopathy-Which-Came-First

FAQs Newly Diagnosed with A-Fib: Fear and Anxiety

 FAQs Coping with A-Fib: Fear & Anxiety

Maze heart You are not alone - with outline 175 pix at 96 res“I live in fear of my A-Fib. I never know when I’m going to get an A-Fib attack or how long it will last. How do people deal with this constantly lurking fear and anxiety?”

Don’t be ashamed to admit how A-Fib makes you feel (especially if you’re a guy). A-Fib has psychological and emotional effects as well as physical. Recent research indicates that “psychological distress” worsens A-Fib symptoms’ severity.

PODCAST
For my most recent report, listen to my Podcast:

15 Ways to Manage the Fear & Anxiety of Atrial Fibrillation

Go to Podcast

Seven WAYS TO COPE WITH YOUR A-FIB FEAR AND ANXIETY

1. Knowledge is Power and Control!

Read about your treatment options, learn about your A-Fib. Read how others have dealt with their A-Fib. Search the list of Personal Experiences published on his site. With over 90 stories, you’re sure to find a few patients with similar symptoms as yourself. Knowing others have beaten their A-Fib is a tremendous psychological relief. This helps replace fear with hope!

2. Anxiety Thought Log

Confront your A-Fib fears directly. Don’t let them mill around in your subconscious. Former A-Fib patient, Anthony Bladon, suggests you keep an ‘anxiety thoughts log.’ Write down word-for-word what the anxious thought was, when, and what was the trigger. Confront each fearful thought and try to re-state it in a more reasonable frame of mind, thereby reducing the anxiety. (See Anthony Bladon and his anxiety log.)

This may sound a bit bizarre, but try repeating anxious thoughts to yourself. Express a fear to yourself over and over. Let the monotony make your mind wander to more enjoyable thoughts. Or set aside a 20 minute worrying time during the day and refuse to think about troubling fears at any other time.

3. Yoga, Relaxation Techniques and Meditation 

In preliminary studies, Yoga has been demonstrated to improve A-Fib symptoms and to reduce A-Fib attacks, as well as improve quality of life, depression and anxiety. (See also FAQ: I do Yoga. It relaxes me and helps with my stress level. Is there any evidence on Yoga helping with other A-Fib symptoms?“)

Relaxation techniques and meditation may also offer you relief from your anxieties.

A specific type of meditation called ‘Mindfulness’ is recommended by Harvard Pilgrim nurse case manager Linda Bixby. The technique is to ‘Observe and Feel the Physical Sensations’ of the A-Fib Episodes. At first this may seem counter-intuitive and may not work for you. The idea is to observe rather than resist or worry. You allow a frightening health event like an A-Fib attack to just run its course. For example, Neil Blanchette was diagnosed with A-Fib when he was 17. Meditation and “mindfulness” was a great help to him. “Just taking it in and letting myself feel the physical A-Fib experience was actually relaxing.” (Thanks to David Holzman for calling our attention to this article.)

4. Natural Remedies:

Lavender Oil Aromatherapy: the light, soothing fragrance of lavender oil has long been used to ease anxiety (and insomnia). One example of many is Nature’s Way Calm Aid. “It contains Silexan, a type of lavender oil shown in clinical studies to ease anxiety as effectively as the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam (Ativan).”

PharmaGABA: is a bioidentical form of GABA (gamma-ami­nobutyric acid), which serves as a critical calming agent in the central nervous system, works on the same chemical pathways as Xanax, Valium, and other drugs—without all the negative side effects; helps combat stress and anxiousness. One example is Natural Factors PharmaGABA

Relora: a blend of two botanical extracts (Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense) that helps reduce cortisol levels and promotes feelings of relaxation.

5. Counseling and Meds

Recognize that you may need professional help. Don’t be embarrassed to seek counseling. In addition, discuss if anxiety medication would be appropriate or helpful. (See Jay Teresi’s story, “Anxiety the Greatest Challenge” and Kelly Teresi’s story “A Young Wife Copes with Husband’s A-Fib” in my book, Beat Your A-Fib, pgs. 101-105)

6. Our A-Fib Support Volunteers

It might calm your fears to talk with or email someone who knows first-hand how A-Fib makes you feel. Each of our A-Fib Support Volunteers has gone through a lot to be cured of their A-Fib. They were helped along the way and now they want to return the favor by offering you support and hope. Learn more on our A-Fib Support Volunteers page (under Resources and Links).

7. Enlist Support From Your Loved Ones

Recognize that A-Fib can have significant consequences on your social interactions with your family and colleagues. Sit down and have a talk with your significant other(s), your friends and co-workers. Explain what A-Fib is, how it affects you and how it makes you feel. Ask for their understanding. They will want to help you, so be prepared to answer their questions.

Takeaway: Fight your fears! Ambush your anxiety! Atrial Fibrillation may be in your heart but it doesn’t have to be in your head. Seek your freedom from anxiety and improve the quality of your life.

Other ideas? If you have suggestions or programs that helped reduce your A-Fib-related anxiety, please email me and let me know.
References for this Article
• Gehi AK at al. Psychopathology and symptoms of atrial fibrillation: implications for therapy. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2012 May;23(5):473-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8167.2011.02264.x. Epub 2012 Mar 19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22429764
• Neale, T. Yoga May Calm Afib. MedscapeToday.com. Jan 23, 2013. Last accessed Jan 23, 2014. URL:http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Arrhythmias/37121
• Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Your Health, Fall 2014.
• Lucile, H. (DrHollyLucille.com) Natural remedy for anxiety, Bottom Line Health, April, 2014, p. 16.
• Whitaker, J. PharmaGABA Chewables for Immediate Stress Relief. Whitaker Wellness Institute website. Last accessed March 29, 2014. URL: http://www.whitakerwellness.com/pharmagaba/
• Whitaker, J. Innovations in Wellness Medicine, Natural Solutions for Stress Relief. Dr. Whitaker’s Health & Healing, March 2015, Vol. 25, No. 3.
• Starbuck, Jamison. The Natural Way/No More Drugs for Anxiety. Bottom Line Health, Volume 29, Number 10, October 2015, p. 10.

Back to top
Go back to
FAQ for the Newly Diagnosed A-Fib Patient
Last updated: Monday, June 18, 2018

A few of our many A-Fib.com Support Volunteers

Our A-Fib.com Support Volunteers are just an email away.

Follow Us
facebook - A-Fib.comtwitter - A-Fib.comlinkedin  - A-Fib.compinterest  - A-Fib.comYouTube: A-Fib Can be Cured!  - A-Fib.com


A-Fib.com is a
501(c)(3) Nonprofit



Your support is needed. Every donation helps, even just $1.00.



A-Fib.com top rated by Healthline.com for fourth year 2014  2015  2016  2017

A-Fib.com Mission Statement
We Need You

Mug - Seek your cure - Beat Your A-Fib 200 pix wide at 300 resEncourage others
with A-Fib
click to order

Home | The A-Fib Coach | Help Support A-Fib.com | A-Fib News Archive | Tell Us What You think | Press Room | GuideStar Seal | HON certification | Disclosures | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy