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


Advocacy

Conflicts of Interest—Influencing Doctors for the Price of a Meal

In a 2016 JAMA Internal Medicine report, the authors compared meal payments to doctors with the drugs they prescribed to Medicare patients.

Even doctors who accepted only one free meal were more likely to prescribe the brand name drug.

Not surprisingly, they found that physicians who accept free meals from a drug company are more likely to prescribe that company’s brand name drugs rather than cheaper (and usually more proven) generic drugs. This study only focused on physicians who received meals.

Even doctors who accepted only one free meal were more likely to prescribe the brand name drug. Doctors who accepted four or more meals were far more likely to prescribe brand name drugs than doctors who accepted no meals. Furthermore, doctors who accepted more expensive meals prescribed more brand name drugs.

Steer Clear of Conflicts of Interest

Studies have found that when there is a conflict of interest, it is almost impossible for even well-meaning people to see things objectively.

Dr. Dan Ariely of Duke University described how, if a doctor must choose between two procedures, they are likely to pick the one that has the better outcome for their bottom line (i.e. financial benefit).

“That doesn’t mean the doctor is unethical…it just means he is human. We truly seem to not realize how corrosive conflicts of interest are to honesty and objectivity.”

He advocates that we steer clear of people and organizations with conflicts of interest “because it does not appear to be possible to overcome conflicts of interest.”

When to be Suspicious of Doctors

Doctors are only human. They may not realize a conflict of interest is affecting their recommendations. So be suspicious if your doctor tells you:

In today’s world, you have to do your own due diligence…get a second (or third) opinion.

• to take an expensive new drug
• to just “live with your A-Fib”
• insists that catheter ablation is too dangerous or unproven
• that A-Fib can’t be cured
• that you have to take drugs for the rest of your life

If this happens to you, RUN, DON’T WALK and get a second opinion (and even a third opinion).

In today’s world, you have to do your own due diligence. You know what makes sense and what doesn’t.

For more, see my article: EP’s Million Dollar Club—Are Payments to Doctors Buying Influence?\

Resources for this article
•Husten, Larry. CardioBrief: The Hidden Cost of Free Lunch. Medpage Today. June 21, 2016. https://tinyurl.com/CardioBriefCostFreeLunch

• DeJong, C. et al. Pharmaceutical Industry-Sponsored Meals and Physician Prescribing Patterns for Medicare Beneficiaries. JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 20, 2016. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2520680 doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2765 Y

• eh, JS et al. Association of Industry Payments to Physicians With the Prescribing of Brand-name Statins in Massachusetts. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(6):763-768. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2520680 doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1709. Ariely, Dan. Why Everybody Is Lying. Bottom Line Personal. Volume 37, Number 14, July 15, 2016. P. 14.

• Husten, L. Dollars for Heart Docs: Analysis of CMS database shows some docs pocketed millions from drug and device makers. CardioBrief, June 23, 2015.  http://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/ethics/52731

• Medpage Today Staff. Hospital-Based Medicine: How Do Policies on Detailing Affect Branded Drug RX?—F. Perry Wilson, MD, digs into recent study. Medpage Today, May 04, 2017. https://tinyurl.com/MedpagetodayBrandedDrugs

 

A-Fib Patients: How Does Your Doctor Talk to You?

I recall an email sent to me by a woman from England who described her horrendous A-Fib symptoms—palpitations, extreme fluttering, breathlessness, “absolute extreme fatigue.” She recalled how the doctor said her symptoms had nothing to do with A-Fib, that the symptoms were all in her head, and that she was exaggerating her breathlessness and exhaustion.

Wow! First, I reassured her that her symptoms are very real for many A-Fib patients. I then suggested she change doctors. (I also recommended she contact our A-Fib Support Volunteers.)

How’s the Rapport With Your Doctor?

There’s an insightful article in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology (I’d like to send a copy to her doctor) “How doctors can provide better treatment by understanding the hearts―and minds―of AF patients.

In brief, it’s a Top 10 list: 5 things A-Fib patients do not want to hear from their doctors and 5 things they do want to hear. (Go to the journal article.)

Five Things A-Fib Patients Do Not Want To Hear

Several research studies tell us that some doctors underestimate the impact Atrial Fibrillation has on a patient’s quality of life. Many doctors treat A-Fib as a benign heart ailment. But patients report how A-Fib can wreak havoc in their lives.

Responding to a survey, A-Fib patients said they do not want their healthcare providers to say:


1. “A-Fib won’t kill you.”
2. “Just get on with your life and stop thinking about your A-Fib.”
3. “Stay off the Internet and only listen to me.”
4. “I’ll choose your treatment, not you.”
5. “You’re just a hysterical female.”


Did anything on this list sound (or feel) familiar to you?

If your doctor is condescending or dismisses your concerns, you’re getting poor care. If a doctor is too busy to talk with you and answer your concerns, he’s probably too busy to take care of you properly.

Like the patient from England, it may be time for you to change doctors.

Five Things A-Fib Patients Do Want To Hear

Those doctors who recognize the serious effects atrial fibrillation can have on patients will foster meaningful and productive partnerships with their patients. From the same survey, here are five things A-Fib patients do want their healthcare providers to say:


1. “I respect you and will listen.”
2. “I want to be sure you understand.”
3. “Let’s customize a treatment that works with your lifestyle.”
4. “I understand your values and preferences.”
5. “Here are some resources about A-Fib.”


Do the comments on this second list sound like your doctor?

When your doctor respects you and listens to you, you’re more likely to collaborate on a treatment plan tailored to you and your treatment goals.

If you don’t have this kind of rapport with your current doctor(s), it’s worth looking elsewhere for a new doctor (even if they’re considered “the best” in their field).

Changing Doctors Can Be Scary: We Can Help

As a researcher in doctor-patient communication, Robin DiMatteo, of U. of Calif.- Riverside, says of changing doctors: ”I really think it’s a fear of the unknown. But if the doctor isn’t supporting your healing or health, you should go.”A-Fib.com Directory of Doctors and Medical Centers Treating A-Fib Patients at A-Fib.com

At A-Fib.com, we can help you. First, learn more about how to Find The Right Doctor For You and Your Treatment Goals.

Then check our Directory of Doctors and Facilities. We list US & international physicians and medical centers treating Atrial Fibrillation patients. This evolving list is offered as a service and convenience to A-Fib patients. (Important: Unlike other directories, we accept no fee to be included.) 

Resources for this article
Mellanie True Hills presentation, 2017 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, California, November 11-15, 2017.

Recognize AFib Patient Values by Mellanie True Hills. PowerPoint Presentation. From Improving Outcomes for Patients with AFib. American Heart Assoc. Non-CME Webinar. May 3, 2018. https://www.heart.org/-/media/files/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation/improving-outcomes-for-patients-with-afib-ucm_500972.pdf?la=en&hash=CDE25CF86D94CE01B9D5662E45E86619F20FF809

Hills, M T.  The transformative power of understanding and trust in AF care: How doctors can provide better treatment by understanding the hearts―and minds―of AF patients. Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology. Point of View. Volume 29, Issue 4, April 2018. Pages: 641-642. https://doi.org/10.1111/jce.13443

Be Suspicious of A-Fib Info on the Internet―Here’s Why

by Steve S. Ryan

When I attend talks at most A-Fib conferences, the first slide a presenter shows is often a list of their Conflicts of Interest. It’s required of all speakers.

But this is not required of websites! Health/Heart-related websites are not required to be transparent and reveal their conflicts of interest.

Drug Industry Owns or Influences Most Heart/Health Web sites

The drug and device industry owns, operates or influences almost every health/heart-related web site on the Internet!

The fact is most health/heart web sites are supported by drug companies who donate most of their funding.

For example, did you know that the drug company Ely Lilly partially owns and operates WebMD, the Heart.org, Medscape.com, eMedicine.com and many other health web sites?

The fact is that most health/heart-related web sites are supported by drug companies who donate most of their funding. Consider how that may affect the information they put on their web sites―they’re not going to bite the hand that feeds them.

VIDEO: Video: Buyer Beware of Misleading A-Fib Information on the Web and in the Media

Beware of misleading and incorrect A-Fib information published by reputable sources on the internet and in print media. Steve S. Ryan, PhD, gives three specific examples of why you need to be on the lookout for inaccurate statements about Atrial Fibrillation. 3:59 min. Go to video.

Be Suspicious of A-Fib Info on the Internet

Steve Ryan video at A-Fib.com

VIDEO: Buyer Beware of Misleading or Inaccurate A-Fib Information.

In our crazy world, you can’t afford to trust anything you read on the Internet.

At one time I tried to keep track of all the mis-information found on various A-Fib web sites. When we’d find something wrong, we would write the site. I don’t think we’ve ever received a reply. Finally, we gave up.

(See my video: Buyer Beware of Misleading or Inaccurate A-Fib Information.)

In today’s world, you have to do your own due diligence.

Many web sites put out biased or mis-information often for financial gains, but sometimes it’s just out-of-date. Be skeptical.

You can tell if someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Truth will out. If you feel uncomfortable or that something is wrong with a site, it probably is. When you find a good site, the truth will jump out at you.

Whenever you visit a heart health-related website, ask yourself: “Who owns this site?” and “What is their agenda?” (Hint: Check their list of “sponsors” and follow the money!)

How Does A-Fib.com Measure Up?

A-Fib Inc. has earned GuideStar’s highest rating, the GuideStar Exchange Platinum Seal, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability in the non-profit world.

Transparency means that anyone can find out what we have been doing, what we have achieved, and how we are doing in achieving our ultimate goals. You can check the A-Fib.com public listing at GuideStar.org.

A-Fib.com has also earned the Health On the Net Foundation (HON) Certification for quality and trustworthiness of medical and health online information.

For more, you can also read the A-Fib.com Disclosures page.  

Caution - when searching A-Fib websites always ask: who is paying for this site and what is their agenda?

Hint: Check their list of “sponsors” and follow the money!

Do I Have a Legal Right to My Medical Records? Can I See Them? Get Copies?

Yes. Patients have the legal right to access both paper and electronic records, to view the originals and to obtain copies of their medical records.

In the U.S. this right is guaranteed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 [HIPAA]. If you live outside the US, know that over 89 countries have adopted Data Privacy Laws. For example, Canada has the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and in Europe there’s the EU Data Protection Reform.

Be aware that while your medical information or data belongs to you (the patient), the physical pieces of paper, X-ray film, etc. belong to the hospital or health care provider.

Make an Inventory of Your Medical Records

When it comes time to see a new doctor or specialist, you’ll want to supply them with a copy of all your relevant A-Fib related medical records.

You may already have many of these records on file and just need to identify those you are missing. (You may be fortunate and have online access to your information, depending on your health provider.)

How to Request Copies of Missing Records

If you are missing copies of some of your files, you may need to request files from current and former physicians and medical centers. So, how do you do that? For all the details, see my article: 3 Ways to Request Copies of your Medical Records

For no cost copies, ask if they will copy electronic files to your USB Flash drive or to a disc/CD you supply. 

Once you have a complete set of your medical records, store your originals in a binder or file folder. Store CDs in binder sleeves or copy to your PC. Make backup copies of any digital records.

Where Do You Organize Your A-Fib Records?

Keep your medical records in a binder or folder. at A-Fib.comWe strongly encourage you to get in the habit of storing all your A-Fib-related research and documents in one place. Don’t leave your doctor’s office, medical center or hospital without a copy of every test or procedure they perform. If the test result isn’t immediately available, have them mail it to you.

Patient Online Services: If your healthcare provider offers a secure online portal to your patient records, be sure to sign up for it. It is a convenient way to access your health information and medical records. Services include email communication with your doctors (no phone tag), your doctor’s instructions during office visits, a calendar of all upcoming and past office visits, all tests results, a list of prescribed medications and patient education resources.

Store your A-Fib Research: As you search for your Atrial Fibrillation cure, organize the information you are collecting. Start with a notebook and a three-ring binder or a file folder. To learn more, see my article, Why You Need an A-Fib Notebook and 3-Ring Binder.

Make Medical Record-Keeping a Habit: Don’t leave your doctor’s office or medical canter without a copy of every test they performed. Store in your A-Fib three-ring binder or file folder.

Never see a doctor alone - 350 wide at 300 res

A-Fib Impacts Quality of Life for the Spouse and Family of Patients

Research verifies that the loved ones living with someone in Atrial Fibrillation may be about as stressed as actually having the condition.

In one study the partners of A-Fib patients reported a significant reduction in their quality of life, to the same degree as the patient. (Note: Most severely impaired was a couple’s sex life.)

Educate the Family, Not Just the Patient

One simple solution might be to make sure the spouse comes to office visits, particularly during the early visits around the time of diagnosis, says Dr. Bruce A. Koplan of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

 Research tells us A-Fib is just as stressful for the patient’s partner.
“Sometimes spouses come but stay in the waiting room,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s a good idea because they’re suffering too.”

Educational programs and other interventions to eliminate some of the unknowns may relieve the anxiety for the patient and their partner leading to improved quality of life for both.

Get all Your Loved Ones Involved

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is from the patient’s partner: “What can I do for my spouse during an A-Fib attack?”

Perhaps, just as important, A-Fib patients should be asking “How can I help my family cope with the stress and anxiety of my Atrial Fibrillation?”

A Momentary Pause: When I talk with an A-Fib patient, I always ask how their spouse or partner is doing―how they are coping. This often elicits a momentarily pause while the patient stops and ponders the impact of A-Fib on their family.

My best advice to patients is to get all your loved ones involved! Knowledge is empowering and reduces stress and anxiety.

Talk with them, answer their questions. To help you, download my free report, Top 10 Questions Families Ask about Atrial Fibrillation”.

Be Confident & Stay Calm

Share your A-Fib plan

In addition, for your family’s peace of mind, learn Why & How to Create Your ‘A-Fib Episode Action Plan’. During an A-Fib attack, an A-Fib Action Plan with specific steps is reassuring and helps everyone stay calm. Your family will be confident they’re supporting you in taking the right action at the right time.

Discuss your A-Fib Action Plan with your loved ones and answer their questions. Post a copy in a prominent place where your family can find it easily.

Knowledge Empowers, Reduces Stress and Anxiety

References for this Article

• Koplan BA, et al “Living with atrial fibrillation: Does the spouse suffer as much as the patient?” HRS meeting 2008; Abstract PO1-151.

• Phend, C.  HRS: Atrial Fibrillation Affects Family as Much as Patient. Heart Rhythm Society. Meeting coverage. MedPage Today, May 15, 2008. http://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/hrs/9472

• Bohnen M, et al. Quality of life with atrial fibrillation: Do the spouses suffer as much as the patients? Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2011;34:804-809. DOI:10.1111/j.1540-8159.2011.03111.x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21535034

• Ekblad, H. et al. The Well-Being of Relatives of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation: A Critical Incident Technique Analysis. The Open Nursing Journal, ISSN: 1874-4346 ― Volume 10, 2016. https://benthamopen.com/FULLTEXT/TONURSJ-8-48. DOI: 10.2174/1874434601408010048

Help Michele: Share your A-Fib Experince With Wearable Heartrate Monitoring Devices

Heart Rhythm Society logoOne of our A-Fib Support Volunteers, Michele Straube, will be participating as a patient advocate on a panel during the annual Heart Rhythm Society conference in San Francisco, CA, May 2019.  The panel presentation is entitled “The Wearable and Apps: Show Me the Data”. The other panel members, and the workshop audience are medical professionals and experts in cardiac rhythm management

To help Michele share a broad patient perspective, she would greatly appreciate you answering a short survey with your thoughts on wearable/portable devices/apps that provide AFib-related information. Your input may influence what new devices or apps are developed.

Go to Survey now!

All answers will be held confidential. Survey results will be compiled in an anonymous way to share with the Heart Rhythm Society 2019 audience. No individual information will be shared.

Michele S.

The 12-question survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. The survey is open until April 15, 2019. To participate, go to survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z3STKM2

You can read Michele’s A-Fib story at Cured After 30 Years in A-Fib by Dr. Marrouche.

 

Why You Should Learn to Live with Your Atrial Fibrillation—Not!


“Don’t let anyone—especially your doctor—tell you that
A-Fib isn’t that serious…or you should just learn to live
with it…or to just take your meds.”

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


Research studies tell us the longer you have Atrial Fibrillation, the harder it can be to cure it. A-Fib patient Daniel Doane, Sonora, CA, shares his insights:

Daniel D.

“I didn’t realize how continued A-Fib so drastically remodels your heart. ‘A-FIB BEGETS A-FIB’ was the phrase that brought it home to me. 

Every instance of A-Fib changed my heart, remodeled the substrate, and made it more likely to happen again. Get your A-Fib taken care of. It won’t go away. It may seem to get better, but it will return.”

Lessons Learned: After eight years with A-Fib, Daniel had a successful Totally Thoracoscopic (TT) Mini-Maze operation. In his personal story in Beat Your A-Fib, he offers this advice to others with A-Fib:

“Get a catheter ablation or a mini-maze procedure, whichever best suits your situation. I wish I had had this done sooner. I personally think that the sooner a person has a procedure, the better off they are.”

For more from Daniel, a patient now free from the burden of Atrial Fibrillation, see: “I Have Gotten a Lot of Bad Advice From Various GPs”. 

“Don’t let anyone tell you that A-Fib isn’t that serious.

To be cured of your A-Fib, you may need to ‘fire’ your current doctor, see Is This the Year You Fire Your Doctor? and Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib.

How to Cook up Your A-Fib Plan for a Cure

At A-Fib.com we encourage you to become your own best patient advocate. Here’s our “recipe” to help you look beyond common drug therapies and nourish you on your path to an A-Fib cure or best outcome for you.

We hope the ingredients in our “recipe” will help you in your journey to a life free of the burden of Atrial Fibrillation. At A-Fib.com we can help you, and many of our A-Fib.com readers have written their personal stories to help you, too.

A-Fib Patient Stories: Listed by Topic

It’s encouraging to read how someone else has dealt with their A-Fib. In our 99+ Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope, A-Fib patients tell their stories to help bolster your determination to seek a life free of A-Fib.

Pick an A-Fib story by Theme or Topic: You may find it helpful to read a specific type(s) of stories. For example, about A-Fib patients in your age group, patients with the same symptoms as yours, or perhaps patients who have had a specific treatment such as a cardioversion, catheter ablation or a mini-maze surgery.

Select stories by theme or topic

How to Choose an A-Fib story: To help you select a personal A-Fib story, we’ve cross-referenced them by five major themes and topics:

by Cause
by Risk Factor
by Symptom
by Age group/Years with A-Fib
by Treatment

Each category has several subcategories. To browse stories on a specific subject, see Personal A-Fib Stories ‘Listed by Subject’.

At A-Fib.com, we can help you to
Whip up your Resolve to
Seek your Cure. 

Is 2019 the Year You Fire Your A-Fib Doctor?

Consider this question: “What would you tell your healthcare providers about living with A-Fib?”

That’s the question Mellanie True Hills, StopAFib.org, posed in 2017 to A-Fib patients on several online forums. Around 1,000 A-Fib patients and caregivers from around the world responded.

(How would you answer her question?)

A Top 10 List from A-Fib Patients to Their Doctors

After culling the patient comments, Ms. Hills distilled them into a top 10 list: 5 things A-Fib patients do not want to hear from their doctors and 5 things they do want to hear. She shared these insights with an AMA audience of doctors and later in a journal article for Electrophysiologists. For the full article with the accompanying explanations, go to her journal article.

Five Things A-Fib Patients Do Not Want To Hear

Ms. Hills’ survey results and several research studies tell us that some doctors underestimate the impact Atrial Fibrillation has on a patient’s quality of life. Many doctors treat A-Fib as a benign heart ailment. But patients report how A-Fib can reek havoc in their lives.

Responding A-Fib patients in this survey have said they do not want their healthcare providers to say:

  1. “A-Fib won’t kill you.”
  2. “Just get on with your life and stop thinking about your A-Fib.”
  3. “Stay off the Internet and only listen to me.”
  4. “I’ll choose your treatment, not you.”
  5. “You’re just a hysterical female.”

How Does Your A-Fib Doctor Measure Up?

Did anything on this list sound (or feel) familiar to you?

Think about your doctor’s manner and personality. Is this someone who works with you? Someone who listens to how A-Fib makes you feel? Does this doctor inspire confidence? Is this someone you’re comfortable with and trust with your health care?

Even if a doctor is the best in their field and an expert in your condition, that may not help you if they don’t communicate well with you and they don’t respect you.

If your doctor is condescending or dismisses your concerns, you’re getting poor care. If a doctor is too busy to talk with you and answer your concerns, he’s probably too busy to take care of you properly.

It may be time for you to change doctors.

Five Things A-Fib Patients Do Want To Hear

Those doctors who recognize the serious effects atrial fibrillation can have on patients will foster meaningful and productive partnerships with their patients. To bolster the doctor–patient relationship, here are five things A-Fib patients do want their healthcare providers to say:

  1. “I respect you and will listen.”
  2. “I want to be sure you understand.”
  3. “Let’s customize a treatment that works with your lifestyle.”
  4. “I understand your values and preferences.”
  5. “Here are some resources about A-Fib.”

Is 2019 the Year You Fire Your Doctor?

Your relationship with your doctor is important. Do the comments on this second list sound like your doctor?

If you don’t have this kind of rapport with your current doctor(s), it’s worth looking elsewhere for a new doctor (even if they’re “the best” in their field).

When your doctor respects you and listens to you, you’re more likely to collaborate on a treatment plan tailored to you and your treatment goals.

Developing a good relationship helps you feel comfortable asking questions and getting feedback in a give-and-take environment. And you’re more likely to accept and follow their advice.

Changing Doctors Can Be Scary

The researcher in doctor-patient communication, Robin DiMatteo, of U. of Calif.- Riverside, says of changing doctors: ”I really think it’s a fear of the unknown. But if the doctor isn’t supporting your healing or health, you should go.”

We can help you. Learn more about how to Find The Right Doctor For You and Your Treatment Goals.

Helping Doctors Understand A-Fib from the Patients’ Point-of-ViewRead about my own experience talking to over 200 cardiologists and surgeons about the emotional stress of A-Fib from a patient’s point of view.

Resources for this Article

• Mellanie True Hills presentation, 2017 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, California, November 11-15, 2017. Recognize AFib Patient Values by Mellanie True Hills. PowerPoint Presentation. From Improving Outcomes for Patients with AFib. 

• American Heart Assoc. Non-CME Webinar. May 3, 2018. https://www.heart.org/-/media/files/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation/improving-outcomes-for-patients-with-afib-ucm_500972.pdf?la=en&hash=CDE25CF86D94CE01B9D5662E45E86619F20FF809 

• Hills, M T.  The transformative power of understanding and trust in AF care: How doctors can provide better treatment by understanding the hearts―and minds―of AF patients. Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology. Point of View. Volume 29, Issue 4, April 2018. Pages: 641-642. https://doi.org/10.1111/jce.13443 

Build Your ‘Dream Team’ to Seek Your A-Fib Cure (or Best Outcome for You)

Treating Atrial Fibrillation doesn’t sound like a team sport. But you don’t beat your A-Fib on your own. It takes a team of healthcare professionals and wellness experts to help you seek your A-Fib cure!

Your ‘Dream Team’ will be unique to you, based on your age, symptoms, and other medical conditions.

The Core Members of your ‘Dream Team’ 

♥ Your primary care physician: often diagnoses your atrial fibrillation; may prescribe and manage your initial medications (especially for risk of stroke); usually refers you to a cardiologist (hopefully a heart rhythm specialist).

♥ Cardiac Electrophysiologist (EP): a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical functions of your heart; often the leader of your ‘Dream Team’! (Read: How to Find the Right Doctor for You.) In addition to your EP, other cardiac professionals may be added to your team including:

▪ Cardiac procedure specialist: if you need a catheter ablation, a left atrial appendage occlusion device (e.g. the Watchman device), a pacemaker, or perhaps an AV Node Ablation with Pacemaker procedure.

▪ Cardiac surgeon: if you need a Maze or Mini-maze surgery

Recruit Beyond Your Team Starters

Don’t stop with just recruiting your star performers. Many of our readers at A-Fib.com have drafted other healthcare practitioners and wellness experts to join their ‘Dream Team’. You may benefit from one or more of the following:

Sleep specialist: More than 40% of A-Fib patients also suffer from sleep apnea. Everyone with A-Fib should be tested (Sleep Lab or home study). In fact, your EP may require testing before agreeing to perform a catheter ablation. Learn more about sleep apnea.

♥ Nutritional counselor/Naturopathic physician: Many A-Fib patients have found relief of symptoms through herbal and mineral supplementation (starting with magnesium and potassium). Learn more about a more integrated or natural method of healthcare.

♥ Diet & Exercise specialist: Losing weight through diet and exercise has benefited many A-Fib patients. Some report their A-Fib symptoms have diminished or stopped completely through changes in lifestyle. Read more about a heart-healthy eating plan.

♥ Complementary treatment practitioners:

▪ Acupuncture: Many A-Fib patients have reported symptom relief with acupuncture. Research indicates that acupuncture may have an anti-arrhythmic effect in patients with atrial fibrillation. Read about acupuncture research.

▪ Yoga: The practice of yoga has benefits, many A-Fib patients report. Specifically, the number of symptomatic A-Fib events were down, heart beat and blood pressure dropped, depression eased and anxiety decreased. Read about A-Fib and yoga.

▪ Chiropractor: Several A-Fib.com patients have reported their symptoms were relieved with chiropractic treatments. In fact, a few clinical studies have focused on arrhythmia and ‘manipulation’ techniques. Read more.

Where to Start: Ask for Referrals

To form your ‘Dream Team’ of health and wellness experts, ask for referrals from other A-Fib patients and from your family and friends.

If you know nurses or support staff who work in the cardiology field or in Electrophysiology (EP) labs, they can be great resources. Also, seek advice from the nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants at your doctors’ offices.

To find the right doctor, start with our page, How to Find the Right Doctor for You

Don’t depend on websites of patient’ ratings of doctors or with patient surveys. They lend themselves to manipulation. Ratings often reflect how well-liked a doctor is, not competency. Consult several sites. Read my article, Don’t be Fooled by Pay-to-Play Online Doctor Referral Sites.

Why You Need an A-Fib Notebook and 3-Ring Binder

As an A-Fib patient, you want to create a ‘treatment plan’—an organized path to finding your A-Fib cure or best outcome. Forming your ‘Dream Team’ is an important step toward this goal.

As you form your team, you will want to organize the information you are collecting. Start with a notebook and a three-ring binder or a file folder.

Your A-Fib binder is where you should file and organize all your A-Fib-related treatment information. Learn What to Include in Your A-Fib Binder

Remember, above all,
Aim for Your A-Fib Cure!

Reference for this Article
Iliades, C. Team approach: Your Atrial Fibrillation Management Team. Everydayhealth.com. 5/30/2013 http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/atrial-fibrillation-and-stroke/your-afib-management-team/

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