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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



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

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