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


Patti Ryan

Steve's wife, Patti The story goes that when Steve Ryan started planning his website for A-Fib patients (A-Fib.com), the top priority was presenting up-to-date medical and research information but in layman’s terms, not medicalese. That’s where Patti Ryan enters the picture. With a background in corporate communications, she pledged to fight tooth ‘n nail, if needed, to represent the patients’ point-of-view and drum out as much medical jargon as possible. And, yes, there were many heated “discussions.” Patti also contributes her graphics and photography savvy to both A-Fib.com and and the publishing of the book, Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure (BeatYourA-Fib.com). Patti has earned a B.F.A. in Fine Art, a B.S. in Communications, and university certificates in business management and corporate training. Her professional experience ranges from graphic design and digital photography to corporate video production, and business management. In the past few years she has focused on creative project design and writing for the craft and home décor magazine/book publication markets. For more background information, see Patti J Ryan at LinkedIn.

New FAQ: What is Atypical Flutter?

“I have Atrial Flutter that my EP describes as “atypical”. What does that mean? Is it treated differently than typical Flutter? (I’ve had two ablations, many cardioversions, and a Watchman installed to close off my LAA.)”

Atrial Flutter is similar but different from Atrial Fibrillation. Atrial Flutter is characterized by rapid, organized contractions of individual heart muscle fibers (see graphic below).

In general, there are two types of Atrial Flutter:

• Typical Flutter (from the right atrium)
• Atypical Flutter (can come from anywhere)

Typical Flutter originates in the right atrium (whereas A-Fib usually comes from the left atrium).

Atypical Flutter can come from anywhere and is one of the most difficult arrhythmias to map and ablate.

To learn more, read my full answer, go to: I have Atrial Flutter that my EP describes as “atypical”. What does that mean?”

A-Flutter usually comes from the right atrium (A-Fib usually comes from the left atrium).

 

2020 AF Symposium: 5 Abstracts on Pulsed Field Ablation

The 2020 AF Symposium abstracts are one-page descriptions of A-Fib research, both published or unpublished. The abstracts are supplemental to the Symposium live presentations, panels discussions and spotlight sessions. This year the printed digest contained 55 abstracts. I choose only a few to summarize.

My Summaries of Select PFA Abstracts

Pulsed Field Ablation (PFA) was the single most important topic at this year’s Symposium. I summarized five of the PFA abstracts of most interest to A-Fib patients.

Lesion Durability and Safety Outcomes of Pulsed Field Ablation
The durability of PFA lesions is the focus of Dr. Vivek Reddy’s abstract. His research study followed 113 patients who each received a PFA ablation.

Pulsed Field Ablation with CTI Lesions Terminates Flutter in a Small Study
The use of Pulsed Field Ablation (PFA) may significantly improve CTI ablation lesions to block the Flutter signal. (CTI: Cavo-Tricuspid Isthmus)

Durability of Pulsed Field Ablation Isolation Over Time: Preliminary Study
Pulsed Field Ablation (PFA) is a new treatment. This study asked the question of whether PFA electrical isolation (lesions) regresses over time.

Pulsed Field Ablation vs RF Ablation: A Study in Swine 
PFA is “tissue-specific”. This study tested if surrounding non-heart tissue (the esophagus) would be affected. PFA ablation was compared to RF ablation. Swine (pigs) were used so tissue could be dissected and examined.

Using MRI to Check Pulsed Field Ablations (PFA)
Normally, during a RF or cryo ablation, doctors move the esophagus as far away as possible from where they are ablating. In this study they took no such precautions.

My Summary Reports

For more from the 2020 AF Symposium, go to My Summary Reports Written for A-Fib Patients. Remember, all my reports are written in plain language for A-Fib patients and their families.

COVID-19: White House Pushes Unproven Drugs—Risk of Arrhythmias and Sudden Death

by Steve S. Ryan

Note: I have already written about the risk of COVID-19 for patients with A-Fib (and other cardiovascular diseases). See my post: COVID-19 Virus: Higher Risk for A-Fib Patients.

In recent coronavirus pandemic press conferences, President Donald Trump has repeatedly advocated the use of the drugs hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and azithromycin (Z-Pak) to treat the COVID-19 virus.

He often says, “What have you got to lose?” About treating patients, he also said these drugs can “help them, but it’s not going to hurt them.” (Really?)

COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019

Hydroxychloroquine & Azithromycin Danger―“What Have You Got to Lose?”

The drugs hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are currently gaining attention as potential treatments for COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine sulphate (Plaquenil) is an antimalarial medication. Azithromycin (Z-Pak) is an antibiotic. (Antibiotics in general are ineffective against viruses.)

Each has potential serious implications for people with existing cardiovascular disease.

Contrary to Mr. Trump’s statements, you do have a lot to lose. Medical groups warn that it’s dangerous to be hawking unproven remedies.

Recently, three U.S. heart societies published a joint statement to detail critical cardiovascular considerations in the use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19.

According to the “Guidance from the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm Society”:

Complications include severe electrical irregularities in the heart such as arrythmia (irregular heartbeat), polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (including Torsade de Pointes) and long QT syndrome, and increased risk of sudden death.

The effect on QT or arrhythmia of these two medications combined has not been studied.

With these increased dangers in mind, we must not take unnecessary (or foolish) risks in the rush to find a treatment or cure for COVID-19.

What We Know So Far About These Drugs and COVID-19

… Continue reading this report…->

COVID-19 Virus: Higher Risk for A-Fib Patients

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has sickened hundreds of thousands and continues to kill large numbers of people worldwide.

Typically, it’s considered a threat to the lungs, but COVID-19 also presents a significant threat to heart health, according to recently published research.

“But It’s Just the Flu, Right?”

“During most flu epidemics, more people die of heart problems than respiratory issues like pneumonia,” according to Dr. Mohammad Madjid, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. He expects similar cardiac problems among severe COVID-19 cases.

In addition, COVID-19 can worsen existing cardiovascular disease. For example, Atrial Fibrillation patients may develop myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. If left untreated, myocarditis may lead to symptoms of heart failure.

And for otherwise healthy people, COVID-19 can cause new heart problems.

“Comorbid” means the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient.

Comorbid Conditions Increase Fatality Rate

Many A-Fib patients also suffer from other chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. With comorbid conditions, COVID-19 can increase the severity and fatality of the virus.

According to research from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), COVID-19 patients from mainland China who reported no comorbid conditions had a case fatality rate of 0.9%.

While patients with the following comorbid conditions had much higher rates:

+ 10.5% for those with cardiovascular disease
+ 7.3% for diabetes
+ 6.3% for chronic respiratory disease
+ 6.0% for hypertension
+ 5.6% for cancer.

Among critical cases, the case fatality rate is unsurprisingly highest at 49%.

Take Away: A-Fib Patients at Higher Risk for COVID-19 

Patients with underlying cardiovascular disease (i.e., A-Fib) are at higher risk for developing COVID-19 and have a worse outlook.

While Atrial Fibrillation raises your risk for developing COVID-19, its severity and fatality is further increased when combined with chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

Prior heart disease is a risk factor for higher mortality from COVID-19.

Cardiovascular patients are encouraged to take additional, reasonable precautions to avoid contact with the COVID-19 virus. And to stay current with vaccinations, especially for influenza and pneumonia.

A-Fib Patients: Practice Social Distancing and Stay Safe at Home

COVID-19: We Can Do It

Since people can spread the COVID-19 virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you or they have no symptoms.

Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people
Do not gather in groups
Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings

Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick including older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.

For more information: see the article How to Protect Yourself & Othersfrom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

References for this article
Citroner, G. Can COVID-19 Damage Your Heart? Here’s What We Know. Heathline.com. March 30, 2020.

Yanping, Z. The Epidemiological Characteristics of an Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19)—China, 2020. Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). Online Date: February 17 2020.

Madjid M, et al. Potential Effects of Coronaviruses on the Cardiovascular System: A Review. JAMA Cardiol. Published online March 27, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1286.

COVID-19 Clinical Guidance For the Cardiovascular Care Team Bulletin, American College of Cardiology. March 6, 2020. https://www.acc.org/~/media/665AFA1E710B4B3293138D14BE8D1213.pdf

Dr. Mohammad Madjid, MS, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. https://med.uth.edu/internalmedicine/faculty/mohammad-madjid-md-ms-facc/

The Epidemiological Characteristics of an Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19) — China, 2020[J]. China CDC Weekly, 2020, 2(8): 113-122

COVID19-What-You-Can-Do-High-Risk CDC poster.pdf

Our Patient-to-Patient Resources: Help from Others with Atrial Fibrillation

To help you cope with your Atrial Fibrillation, we offer you the resources to educate yourself about A-Fib and your treatment options, and to arm yourself with the skills to navigate a path to a life without Atrial Fibrillation.

Our Personal A-Fib stories of Hope and Courage and our A-Fib Support Volunteers are two resources to help answer your questions and bolster your resolve to Seek Your A-Fib Cure (or best outcome for you).

A-Fib Patient Stories of Hope, Courage and Lessons Learned

Your first experiences with Atrial Fibrillation have changed your life in a number of ways: dealing with your A-Fib symptoms, the emotional toll as well, and the impact on your family.

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 encourage and offer you hope. (The first story is Steve Ryan’s in 1998). Many writers have included their email address if you want to contact them directly. To browse our patient experiences, go to Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope and Courage.

Offering Hope: Our A-Fib Support Volunteers

Having someone you can turn to for advice, emotional support, and a sense of hope that you can be cured, may bring you peace of mind. Our A-Fib Support Volunteers have gone through a lot while seeking their A-Fib cure. They have been helped along the way and want to return the favor. They answer questions and offer you encouragement through exchanging emails and sharing their stories.

Our volunteer listings are organized by geographic locations, within the U. S. and internationally by country and/or region.  Learn how to contact our A-Fib Support Volunteers.

Readers post their stories and volunteer to help you to
Seek your Cure. 

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

A-Fib.com is Your Independent Source of Unbiased Information

Who can you trust? Did you know…the drug and medical device industries operate or influence almost every health/heart related web site on the Internet?

For example, the drug company Eli Lilly is a “partner” with WebMD (WebMD Health Corp.) which includes the websites, Medscape.com, MedicineNeteMedicine.com, eMedicineHealth, RxListtheHeart.org, and Drugs.com.

Consider for a moment how that may affect the information you read on their websites. Can you trust these sites to be impartial?

Beholden to No One Except Our Readers

Reader Paul O.

Former A-Fib patient, Paul V. O’Connell of Baltimore, MD, wrote about A-Fib.com publisher, Steve Ryan:

“Steve’s probably the world’s best informed patient advocate when it comes to understanding atrial fibrillation and its treatment. 

Most important, Steve is not owned by the AMA or Big Pharma—so he is not beholden to anyone except his readers.”

Health On the Net and GuideStar Certified

A-Fib.com has earned and maintained the Health On the Net Foundation (HON) Certification for quality and trustworthiness of medical and health online information. The Health On the Net Foundation (HON) Code of Conduct helps protect citizens from misleading health information. 

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.

A-Fib.com is Independent and Unbiased with No Affiliations

From our start in 2002, Steve has maintained an independent and unbiased viewpoint. To assure our integrity, A-Fib.com is deliberately not affiliated with any medical school, device manufacturer, pharmaceutical company, HMO, or medical practice.

At A-Fib.com, Steve accepts no third-party advertising, does not charge for inclusion in our Directory of Doctors & Facilities and accepts no fee (cash or other kind) for a listing in Steve’s Lists of Doctors by Specialty. Not many healthcare websites or patient education sites can make these same claims.

A-Fib.com is your independent source of unbiased information
about Atrial Fibrillation and its resources and treatments.

Join our Mission. Support A-Fib.com.

Every donation helps. Even $1.00.

Resource for this article
Rosenberg. Grassley Investigates Lilly/WebMD link Reported by Washington Post. Opednews.com 2/24/2010 http://www.opednews.com/articles/Grassley-Investigates-Lill-by-Martha-Rosenberg-100224-629.html

Our A-Fib.com Video Library and My Top 5 Picks for the Newly Diagnosed

We have screened hundreds of A-Fib-related videos over the years and have carefully selected a short list for you. Our A-Fib library of videos and animations are for the reader who learns visually through motion graphics, audio, and personal interviews. These short videos are organized loosely into three levels:

Browse our curated A-Fib Video Library

♥ Introductory/Basic Level is for the newly diagnosed patient. Fundamentals of the heart’s electrical system, stroke risk and anticoagulation therapy, ECG/EKG, and catheter/surgical treatments. Helpful for the family and friends of an A-Fib patient, too.

♥ Intermediate Level is for the more informed patient. Videos offer details of the heart’s functions, types of heart monitoring devices, specifics of catheter ablation, maze and hybrid surgeries, and closure of the Left Atrial Appendage.

♥ Advanced Level videos offer a more extensive look at cardioversion, ECGs/EKGs, ejection fraction, catheter ablations/EP lab and maze/mini-maze surgeries. (May requires basic understanding of cardiac anatomy and A-Fib physiology.)

We invite you to browse our A-Fib library of videos and animations and try out a few of our titles.

Top 5 Videos for the Newly Diagnosed Patient

The newly diagnosed A-Fib patient has lots of questions. What is A-Fib? How do I deal with my symptoms? What are my treatment options? How does it impact my family? For answers, start with these videos.

1. Introduction to How a Normal Heart Pumps Blood

Heart Pumps

A short video about the path of a red blood cell through the heart’s four chambers to deliver oxygen to the body and then return to be re-oxygenated. Animation with narration. (Don’t worry about remembering the terminology, just follow the flow of the red blood cell). By The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  (1:00 min.) Go to video.

2. Stroke Prevention in A-Fib and Anticoagulant Therapy

Treatment for stroke prevention in AFThrough interviews and animations explains how atrial fibrillation can cause stroke and why anticoagulation is so important; Discussion of: warfarin (Coumadin), the required monitoring, interactions with food, alcohol and other drugs: newer anticoagulants (NOACs) that do not require regular testing, aren’t affected by foods [but are expensive]. On-camera interviews with AF Association CEO, Trudie Lobban MBE and other experts (5:36)  Developed in association with the drug maker, Boehringer Ingelheim. Go to video.

3. The EKG Signal and Conduction System of the Heart

A-Fib EKG Signal video at A-Fib.com

The EKG signal

Excellent illustration of the heart and a fully labeled graphic of theConduction System of the Heart’. Descriptive text accompanies each step in the animation. First a normally beating heart, the electrical signal path and corresponding EKG tracing. Then the same heart in Atrial Fibrillation with EKG tracing of the heart in A-Fib. Go to video on the American Heart Association website.

4. About Magnesium Deficiency with Dr. Carolyn Dean

C. Dean, MD

C. Dean, MD

Most A-Fib patients are deficient in Magnesium.The Best Way to Supplement Magnesium with Dr. Carolyn Dean, the author of The Magnesium Miracle. Getting nutrients through food is not always possible; discusses side effects of too much and how you can tell if you have a deficiency. (3:39). Go to video. See also: Importance of Balancing Calcium & Magnesium“ (1:00)

5. When Drug Therapy Fails: Why Patients Consider Catheter Ablation

InsiderMedicine.com-When Drug Therapy Fails-Catheter Ablation

Why Ablation?

Dr. Susan M. Sharma discusses why patients with atrial fibrillation turn to ablation when drug therapy doesn’t work. Presenting research findings by David J. Wilber MD; Carlo Pappone, MD, Dr. Sharma discusses the success rates of drug therapy versus catheter ablation. Transcript of the narration is provided. (3:00 min.) From Insidermedicine.com. Go to video.

Disclaimer: Videos provided for your convenience only; we make no endorsement of a specific treatment, physician or medical facility.

For more videos,
visit our A-Fib.com Video Library

Steve Ryan Videos

We’ve edited Steve’s most interesting radio and TV interviews to create several short (3-5 min.) videos. Check out Videos Featuring Steve S. Ryan, PhD, publisher of A-Fib.com.

A Look at the A-Fib.com Glossary of A-Fib Medical Terms

As part of your education about Atrial Fibrillation, you’re bound to run across terms that you do not understand. Bookmark our Glossary of Medical Terms page (or click on “Glossary of Terms” in the left menu) and refer to it when reading and studying about A-Fib.

Our A-Fib.com Glossary of Medical Terms and Phrases is the most complete online source devoted exclusively to Atrial Fibrillation. Each definition is written in everyday language—a great resource for patients and their families.

A Sampling of Glossary Terms

To give you an idea of what you’ll find, we’ve selected a few Atrial Fibrillation terms and phrases related to drug therapy:

If you don’t find the term you are looking for—email us and we’ll add it to the Glossary.

Beta Blocker: A medication that slows down conduction through the heart and makes the AV Node less sensitive to A-Fib impulses.

Calcium Channel Blocker: A medication that prevents or slows the flow of calcium ions into smooth muscle cells such as the heart. This impedes muscle cell contraction, thereby allowing blood vessels to expand and carry more blood and oxygen to tissues.

NOAC: NOAC stands for Novel Oral AntiCoagulants. NOACs are alternatives for vitamin K antagonists (e.g., Warfarin) for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation.

“Pill-in-the-Pocket” Treatment: For Paroxysmal A-Fib patients. When an A-Fib attack occurs, the patient takes an antiarrhythmic med (flecainide, propafenone, etc.) to return to normal sinus rhythm.

Rate Control Medications: Drug therapy that attempts to control your heart rate (ventricular beats), but leave the upper chambers (atria) of your heart in A-Fib.

Rhythm Control Medications: Drug therapy that uses rhythm control drugs, called antiarrhythmics, to try to stop A-Fib and make the heart beat normally.

Browse Our Glossary of A-Fib Terms

Go ahead and take a leisurely stroll through our Glossary of Medical Terms and Phrases. Bookmark the page and refer to if any time you’re learning about Atrial Fibrillation and your treatment options.

By the way: If you don’t find the term you are looking for—email us and we’ll add it.

Go to our Glossary
Bookmark it! Refer to it often!

Click image to go to A-Fib.com Glossary of Terms

My Top 5 Picks: Steve’s A-Fib Survival Kit for the Newly Diagnosed

By Steve S. Ryan, PhD. This post was originally published July 15, 2016.Steve's A-Fib Survival Kit at A-Fib.com

Your first experiences with Atrial Fibrillation have changed your life in a number of ways. As a former A-Fib patient (cured since 1998) I highly recommend these items when first diagnosed with this beast called ‘Atrial Fibrillation’.

My Top 5 Recommendations for the Newly Diagnosed

These are the products I recommend (and use) along with a Bonus: a good medical dictionary. These items are available from many online sources, but I’ve made them easy to order the entire list by making a ‘Wish List’ on Amazon.com: Steve Ryan’s A-Fib Survival Kit for the Newly Diagnosed,(Note: Use our Amazon portal link, and your purchases help support A-Fib.com.)

Magnesium Mg Drs Best1. Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium (200 Mg Elemental), 240-Count

Most A-Fib patients are deficient in Magnesium (Mg). While Magnesium (Mg) is one of the main components of heart cell functioning, it seems to be chronically lacking in most diets.

One form of easily absorbed magnesium is Magnesium glycinate, a chelated amino acid. Look for the label ‘Albion Minerals’ designed to limit bowel sensitivity. Dosage: 600-800 mg daily in divided dosages (meals and bedtime). Read more about Magnesium.

Potassium NOW bottle2. Now Foods Potassium Gluconate Pure Powder, 1-pound

Just like magnesium deficiency, A-Fib patients are usually deficient in Potassium as well. We recommend the powder in order to take the recommended dose of 1600-2400 mg per day.

Be cautious of potassium tablets. For example those listed as 540 mg ONLY contain 99 mg of Potassium. Read more about Potassium.

BYA cover3. Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure: Written in everyday language for patients with Atrial Fibrillation

A-Fib can be cured! That’s the theme of this book written by a former A-Fib patient and publisher of the patient education website, A-Fib.com. Empowers patients to seek their cure. Written in plain language for A-Fib patients and their families.

Polar FT2 Heart Rate Monitor at A-Fib.com4. Polar FT2 Heart Rate Monitor, Black or Blue

Many A-Fib patients want to monitor their heart rate when exercising or doing strenuous tasks (mowing the lawn, moving equipment, etc.) This is a basic DIY model with a clear, LARGE number display of your heart rate (as a number). Requires wearing the included T31 coded transmitter chest strap.

One-button start. Includes a FT2 Getting Started Guide.

Also look at other Polar models: FT1 & RS3000X. I wore a Polar monitor when I had A-Fib, so it’s my brand of choice, but there are many other good brands.

Oximeter image5. Zacurate 500BL Fingertip Pulse Oximeter Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor 

Many A-Fib patients also suffer with undiagnosed sleep apnea. A finger Oximeter is an easy way to check your oxygen level. A reading of 90% or lower means you should talk to your doctor as you may need a sleep study.

Oxford Med DictionaryBONUS: Concise Medical Dictionary (Oxford Quick Reference)

An excellent medical dictionary, the best I’ve found for patients with Atrial Fibrillation who are conducting research into their best treatment options. Includes occasional illustrations (for fun check p. 276 for the types of fingerprint patterns).

More of My Amazon.com Lists

Besides Steve Ryan’s A-Fib Survival Kit for the Newly Diagnosed, see my other Amazon.com lists for supplements, recommended books and DIY heart rate monitors:

By a Former A-Fib Patient: My Recommended ProductsAmazon.com link using A-Fib.com account ID afiin-20
For A-Fib Patients: 7 Supplements for a Healthy Heart
For A-Fib Patients: A-Fib Reference Books and Guides
For A-Fib Patients: Recommended Magnesium and Potassium Supplements
Steve’s Top Picks: DIY Heart Rate Monitors for A-Fib Patients

Note: Use the A-Fib.com Amazon portal link and your purchases help support A-Fib.com (http://tinyurl.com/Shop-Amazon-for-A-Fib). Learn more at: Use our Portal Link When you Shop at Amazon.com.

Click image to read Steve Ryan's personal experience story. at A-Fib.com

Click image to read Steve Ryan’s personal experience story.

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

A-Fib Drug Therapy: If We’re Sick, Just Take a Pill, Right?

In the US, we’ve been conditioned to think, “if we’re sick, just take a pill”.

When you have Atrial Fibrillation, anti-arrhythmic drug (AAD) therapy is certainly better than living a life in A-Fib. It can be useful for many patients.

And according to Dr. Peter Kowey, Lankenau Heart Institute (Philadelphia, PA), while anti-arrhythmic therapy is not perfect, it can improve quality of life and functionality for a significant percentage of A-Fib patients.

Peter R. Kowey MD

P. Kowey MD

Dr Kowey is an internationally respected expert in heart rhythm disorders. His research has led to the development of dozens of new drugs and devices for treating a wide range of cardiac diseases.

He cautions, though, that A-Fib anti-arrhythmic drugs are just a stopgap measure. The problem is they don’t deal with the underlying cause. And are seldom a lasting cure for A-Fib.

The Trade-Offs of Anti-Arrhythmic Drugs

In our article, Eleven Things I Know About A-Fib Drug TherapyDr. Kowey writes:

“An anti-arrhythmic drug is a poison administered in a therapeutic concentration. Like most meds, anti-arrhythmic drugs, (AADs), are a trade-off between the unnatural and possible toxicity with the power to alleviate our A-Fib symptoms.”

Did  “an anti-arrhythmic drug is a poison” set off alarm bells for you?

In general, anti-arrhythmic drugs are toxic substances which aren’t meant to be in our bodies―so our bodies tend to reject them.

For more, see our full article with Dr. Kowey’s insights, Eleven Things I Know About A-Fib Drug Therapy. It’s based on his 2014 American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Session presentation.

Look Beyond the Typical AAD Therapy

Today’s anti-arrhythmic drugs have mediocre success rates (often under 50%).

Beyond AAD Therapy

Many patients often experience unacceptable side effects. Many just stop taking them. And when they do work, they tend to lose their effectiveness over time.

According to Drs. Irina Savelieva and John Camm of St. George’s University of London:

“The plethora of antiarrhythmic drugs currently available for the treatment of A-Fib is a reflection that none is wholly satisfactory, each having limited efficacy combined with poor safety and tolerability.”

These drugs don’t cure A-Fib but merely keep it at bay. Most Atrial Fibrillation patients should look beyond the typical antiarrhythmic drug therapy.

See our Treatments page to learn more about Medicines or ‘Drug Therapies’ for A-Fib.

Answering Your Questions About A-Fib Drug Therapies

Since the beginning of A-Fib.com, we have answered thousands of patient’s questions—many times the same questions. Perhaps the same questions you may have right now.

For unbiased information and guidance about medicines and drug therapy treatments, see our page of questions and answers. You’ll find explanations, resources and advice for the most frequently asked questions by patients and their families. Go to FAQ A-Fib Treatments: Medicines and Drug Therapies.

Tony Rejects Drug Therapy: Says to Ask Questions, None are Stupid

Tony Hall, Evansville, IN, was 54 years old when he develped Atrial Fibrillation in January 2014. After confirming his diagnosis at the hospital, he wrote:

“I sit in the passenger seat feeling like a pet heading to a kennel. Suddenly things are different. I no longer have that “healthy as a horse” attitude.”

He started drug therapy. Then came a cardioconversion, but that didn’t keep him in normal sinus rhythm for long. He was in and out of A-Fib, and by August was in persistent A-Fib.

Learning His Treatment Options

Tony didn’t passively accept everything he was hearing from doctors and others.

He and his wife, Jill, read as much as they could and critically waded through the information they found. (I’m continually amazed at how much mis-information there is about A-Fib on the internet and in the media.)

5-months post-ablation, Tony and Jill after 10K race.

After doing his research, educating himself about treatment options and learning what his health insurance would cover, he chose to have a catheter ablation at the Mayo Clinic in December 2014.

During his three month blanking period, he had some sporadic fluttering and early on a couple of brief A-Fib episodes.

Off all medication and A-Fib-free, in March 2015 he completed a 10K race beating his time from the previous year by a fraction.

Becoming his Own Best Patient Advocate

Tony and Jill are great examples for all A-Fibbers of how to become your own best patient advocate. He rejected endless trials of various drug therapies. Instead he opted for a catheter ablation just shy of a year after his initial A-Fib diagnosis.

In his A-Fib story, he shares this advice to others considering a catheter ablation:

“Make sure, if you desire to have an ablation, that your reasoning is sound and that you have a good argument as to why drug therapy is not the way you want to go.
Having an ablation as front line treatment for A-Fib is not embraced by every EP, and many are reluctant to ablate until drug therapy has failed.
Be persistent and move on [to another doctor] if you are met with resistance.”

For Tony Hall’s personal experience story, see: Very Active 54-Year Old Became His Own Patient Advocate; Chose Ablation as First Line Treatment.

For A-Fib Patients: An Updated Review of Medic Alert ID Products

When you have A-Fib and you’re taking a blood thinner or other medications, you may want to carry details of your specific medical history.

From the simple printed card to products with an integrated USB drive, there are many ways to carry your emergency history with you these days.

Beyond the familiar styles of metallic Medic Alert ID bracelets and necklace pendants, there are products using newer materials like waterproof foam, Duro silicone and plastic. And products linking to centralized, password protected data storage services.

We’ve reviewed dozens of products to offer you an updated sampling of the available options. (For each product, we’ve included a hyperlink so you can easily get more information.)

A Few of Our Favorite Wearables

These are a few items that caught our eye. An Apple Watch slip-on ID band with multiple lines of custom text, an athletic shoe with medical ID card holder which attaches with velcro. And a sports helmet warning decal for 911 responders, with registered data service and built-in medical ID pocket.

Apple Watch strap add-on stainless steel medical ID from Road ID

Athletic shoe ID pocket with Velcro attachment by Vital ID

Helmet warning decal for 911 EMTs with ID card pocket from Vital ID

USB Drive Equipped Products with Medic Alert Symbol

These products all display an emergency symbol or label and include an integrated USB drive. Data can be registered or entered by the owner. A few items are a Duro silicone, latex-free bracelet with pop out USB drive, a stainless steel key chain with the USB built into the fob, and credit-card size data wallet card with a hinged USB drive.

Duro silicone bracelet with integrated USB drive by CARExcel Medical History

Key ring fob with integrated USB drive by Key 2 Life® EMR Medi-Chip

Emergency Medical Information USB Card – The size of a credit card! by 911 Medical ID

Keeping it Simple: Print Your Medical ID Wallet Card

Printable Med ID Wallet Card from AllenLawrence.com

If you want the low-tech version, here are three free online sources for printing your own wallet cards:

Printable Emergency Medical ID Card (online form) by AllFreePrintable.com
• Print Your Own Emergency Medical I.D. Card (online form) by AllenLawrence.com
Emergency Contact Card (in PDF format) from the American Red Cross

Follow the online instructions to enter your information. Then print, trim, fold and add to your wallet or purse. (Or print the blank form and fill-in by hand.)

Money clip from Universal Medical Data

Don’t carry a wallet? Consider a Money Clip with medical symbol and a compartment to slide in an emergency medical ID (left); from Universal Medical Data.

Review and Update the Contents Regularly

Whichever method(s) you use to carry your emergency medical information, don’t forget to review and update the contents regularly. For example, when you change doctors, when you start (or stop) a medication, or if you have a medical emergency or surgical procedure.

Knowing you have up-to-date medical information will give you peace of mind.

Additional thought: Consider your spouse and other family members. Should they also carry their medical emergency ID information?

What Emergency Medical Info Should You Carry?

For information about what emergency medical information to carry, see our article, Your Portable Medical Information Kit.

Update: A-Fib and Dementia & My Top 5 Articles

This article was first published on Apr 26, 2017. Last updated: March 14, 2019

There’s a growing body of evidence linking atrial fibrillation with early onset of dementia. New cases of dementia are diagnosed every four seconds. The number of people with dementia is also expected to triple worldwide to an estimated 140 million by 2050.

Most Feared: When 65+ year olds were asked what disease or condition they were most afraid of getting, 56 percent cited memory-robbing dementia.

Good News: A bit of good news is that the prevalence rate of dementia has declined in some countries, including in the US. And researchers think it may in part be due to increases in levels of education, which seems to protect people from getting dementia.

For a disease many of us fear, the message is hopeful: Dementia is not necessarily inevitable.

While both Atrial fibrillation and dementia have been linked to aging, neither is a normal part of growing older.

Reducing Your Risk of Developing Dementia

You CAN influence or avoid developing dementia. Review these articles to learn more about the link between Atrial Fibrillation and dementia:

1. Anticoagulants, Dementia and Atrial Fibrillation
2. Increased Dementia Risk Caused by A-Fib: 20 Year Study Findings
3. FAQ: “I’m scared of getting dementia. Can the right minerals help? I’ve read about the link with A-Fib. What does research reveal about this risk?”
4. Leaving Patients in A-Fib Doubles Risk of Dementia—The Case for Catheter Ablation
5. FAQ: I’m concerned because Vitamin D deficiency has been tied to both A-Fib and Dementia. What is a normal level of Vitamin D

A-Fib Patients & Strategies to Prevent Dementia

Atrial Fibrillation and Dementia: Neither is a normal part of growing older.

What doesn’t work: current drugs, even statins, don’t work or have mixed results in preventing dementia.

What does work: Catheter ablation to eliminate your Atrial Fibrillation. Patients who get a catheter ablation have long-term rates of dementia similar to people without A-Fib. (This result holds regardless of their initial CHADS2 score.)

Don’t Settle. Seek your A-Fib cure: 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.

Reference for this Article
Americans Rank Alzheimer’s as Most Feared Disease, According to New Marist Poll for Home Instead Senior Care; November 13, 2012 http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20121113005422/en/Americans-Rank-Alzheimer%E2%80%99s-Feared-Disease-Marist-Poll

Prince M, et al. The global prevalence of dementia: a systematic review and metaanalysis. Alzheimers Dementia. 2013;9:63–75. [PubMed]

I Couldn’t Believe the Drugs He Was On; How to Ask Questions About Your A-Fib Prescriptions

03/15/2019 5 pm: Corrected a missing link below to the Free Worksheet, Ask These Questions Before Starting a Prescription Drug.

I received a very distressing email from a reader, Kenny, who was worried about his prescribed medications. He wrote that he just had a cardioversion a week ago and is back in A-Fib (unfortunately that’s not uncommon). Alarm bells went off in my head when I read:

“My doctor just prescribed me amiodarone 200mg, 4x a day…I’m a little concerned about the amiodarone and all the side effects!”

“I’m also on Digoxin…Xarelto and aspirin… .”

“I can’t get my doctor’s office or doctor to call me back! Reluctant to start amiodarone until I can talk to someone!” 

Drugs Therapies Concerns - capsule of heart molecules at A-Fib.com

Drugs Therapies Concerns

Ding, Ding, Ding! I am deeply concerned for him. The doctor prescribing these drugs is in internal medicine, not a cardiac electrophysiologist. While Kenny and I continue to exchange emails, here’s some highlights from my first reply:

Amiodarone is an extremely toxic drug, and this dosage is 4x the normal dose.
You must get a second opinion ASAP! (consult a cardiac electrophysiologist)
Digoxin is also a dangerous drug not normally prescribed for A-Fib patients.
It’s very unusual to prescribe both Xarelto and aspirin.

Time to Change Doctors? And lastly, I wrote him that if your doctor or his office isn’t calling you back, that’s a sign you should look for a new doctor (don’t be afraid to fire your doctor). You need good communication when you’re in A-Fib and trying to find a cure.

I’m glad Kenny reached out to me so we can get him on the right A-Fib treatment plan for him and his treatment goals.

Ask These Questions Before Starting a Prescription Drug

Download the Free Worksheet

Before starting any prescription drug for your Atrial Fibrillation, you should ask what it’s for and why you should take it.

Download our free worksheet, 10 Questions to Ask Before Taking Any Medication’ and use as a guide to ask these questions of your doctor or healthcare provider, and note their responses:

1. Why am I being prescribed this medication?
2. What are the alternatives to taking this medication?
3. What are the side effects of this drug?
4. Are there any precautions or special dietary instructions I should follow?
5. Can it interfere with my other medications?.
6. How long before I know if this drug is working?
7. How will I be monitored on this drug? How often?
8. What happens if this drug doesn’t work?
9. What if my A-Fib symptoms become worse?
10. If I don’t respond to medications, will you consider non-pharmaceutical treatments (such as a catheter ablation)?

Research and Learn About Any Prescription Drug 

You can do your own research about a specific medication and if it’s the right one for you.

An excellent prescription database is the U.S. National Library of Medicine Drug Information Portal. (For an example, see the page on Warfarin [Coumadin].)

Decision Making Time

Download our free worksheet: ’10 Questions to Ask Before Taking Any Medication’. Take a copy to your office visits.

Your research and the answers to these 10 questions should help you decide about taking a new prescription drug. Remember, it’s your heart, your health. Taking medications is a decision you should make in partnership with your doctor.

Note: File your completed worksheets in your A-Fib binder or file folder to use for future reference and follow-up.)

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.

Medical Marijuana: A-Fib Patients Offer Personal Experiences

Due to the increased use of medical marijuana in California and other states, we should soon be getting more data on marijuana’s effects on Atrial Fibrillation.

Several readers with A-Fib have emailed me to share their experiences and observations with marijuana. There seems to be a lot of interest every time I write about this topic.

How about you? I’d love to get more first-hand feedback from A-Fib users. Please email me.

First-Hand Experiences: A-Fib and Medical Marijuana

Jim, an A-Fib patient, has kindly shared his personal use of marijuana and how it helps him. He has tried various meds, cardioversion, and had a failed ablation. He owns his own business in California and is under a lot of stress.

♥ JIM: “Because of all of this, I was having trouble sleeping and was getting very stressed out. But instead of taking something pharmaceutical, I turned to medical marijuana. It changed my life. I come home at night, have some marijuana edibles, and the stress goes away. I sleep wonderfully at night, waking up fresh and ready for another day.

I told my doctor who understands. He says that marijuana edibles shouldn’t have anything to do with A-Fib, and that I can continue to take them.”

On the other hand, John writes that:

♥ JOHN: “99% of his A-Fib attacks occurred while under the influence of marijuana.”

And others add their experiences:

♥ JONATHAN: “I tried a tiny bit of brownie for the first time since being diagnosed with A-Fib (occasional episodes). It was OK until about two hours later. I went into A-Fib and, a bit later, came the closest I ever have to blacking out. I don’t think it’s for me anymore.”

You can join the discussion, too. If you have used marijuana to help with your A-Fib symptoms, email me and share your experience.

♥ WILLIAM: “The A-Fib ablation has been very successful, except the two times that I went into A-Fib after smoking marijuana. I’m a lifelong recreational marijuana smoker, also smoke to relieve the pain from six surgeries on my right arm. Both times that I’ve gone into A-Fib since my last ablation have been after smoking marijuana. After the latest episode I’ve quite smoking marijuana because of the evidence that it can lead to A-Fib.”

♥ SCOTT: “I am currently 55 years old and have been through 15 cardioversions due to A-Fib. I smoked marijuana pretty much daily and noticed that, when I smoked, my heart rate went up. So, I stopped smoking altogether. Since quitting smoking marijuana 7 years ago, I have not had a single case of going into A-Fib. I’m positive that the two are related.”

Scott added that he also stopped drinking which helped. He used to drink a six pack daily.


PODCAST: Marijuana—Good, Bad or Ugly for Patients with A-Fib?

For my most recent report about A-Fib and Marijuana, listen to my Podcast with Travis Van Slooten, publisher of LivingWithAtrialFibrillation.com. (About 18 min. in length.) Includes transcript.

PODCAST

Marijuana—Good, Bad or Ugly for Patients with A-Fib?

With Steve Ryan and Travis Van Slooten (18 min.)

Go to Podcast

References for this article
Korantzopoulos, P. et al. Atrial Fibrillation and Marijuana Smoking. International Journal of Clinical Practice. 2008;62(2):308-313.

Petronis KR, Anthony JC. An epidemiologic investigation of marijuana- and cocaine-related palpitations. Drug Alcohol Depend 1989; 23: 219-26.

Rettner, R. Marijuana Use May Raise Stroke Risk in Young Adults. LiveScience.com, MyHealthNewsDaily February 08, 2013. Last accessed Nov 5, 2014. URL: http://www.livescience.com/26965-marijuana-smoking-stroke-risk.html

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. 

Why am I Angry at Some Doctors Treating Atrial Fibrillation Patients?

I can’t tell you how angry I am at cardiologists who want to leave their patients in Atrial Fibrillation.

It doesn’t matter even if a patient has no apparent symptoms. Just putting a patient on rate control meds and leaving them in A-Fib can have disastrous consequences.

Silent A-Fib Discovered During a Routine Physical

Discovered during routine exam

I corresponded with a fellow who had just found out he was in “silent” Atrial Fibrillation (no symptoms).

I told him he was very lucky (and should buy his doctor a present in gratitude). His doctor discovered his A-Fib during a routine physical exam. If his silent A-Fib had continued untreated, he might easily have been one of the 35% who suffer a debilitating A-Fib-related clot and stroke.

I would normally commend his cardiologist, but his doctor just put him on the rate control drug, diltiazem, and left him in A-Fib.

That is so wrong for so many reasons!

Rate control drugs aren’t really a “treatment” for A-Fib. They leave you in A-Fib.

Rate Control Drugs Don’t Really “Treat” A-Fib

Rate control drugs aren’t really a “treatment” for A-Fib. Though they slow the rate of the ventricles, they leave you in A-Fib.

They may alleviate some A-Fib symptoms, but do not address the primary risks of stroke and death associated with A-Fib.

Effects of Leaving Someone in A-Fib

A-Fib is a progressive disease. Just putting patients on rate control meds (even if they have no apparent symptoms) and leaving them in A-Fib can have disastrous consequences. Atrial Fibrillation can:

Infographic at A-Fib.com A-Fib is a Progressive Disease

• Enlarge and weaken your heart often leading to other heart problems and heart failure.

• Remodel your heart, producing more and more fibrous tissue which is irreversible.

• Dilate and stretch your left atrium to the point where its function is compromised.

• Progress to Chronic (continuous) A-Fib often within a year; Or longer and more frequent A-Fib episodes.

• Increase your risk of dementia and decrease your mental abilities because 15%-30% of your blood isn’t being pumped properly to your brain and other organs.

What Patients Need to Know

For many, many patients, A-Fib is definitely curable. You don’t have to settle for a lifetime of “controlling” your Atrial Fibrillation.

Normal Sinus Rhythm: The goal of today’s AHA/ACC/HRS A-Fib Treatment Guidelines is to get Atrial Fibrillation patients back into normal sinus rhythm (NSR) and stay in sinus rhythm.

Unless too feeble, there’s no good reason to just leave someone in A-Fib (see note below).

Don’t let your doctor leave you in A-Fib. Educate yourself. Learn your treatment options.

Always Aim High! No matter how long you’ve had A-Fib, you should aim for a complete and permanent cure. Shoot for the moon, as they say, and you’ll find the best outcome for you and your type of A-Fib.

Note for this article
A rebuttal: A cardiologist may cite the 2002 AFFIRM study to justify keeping patients on rate control drugs (and anticoagulants), while leaving them in A-Fib. But this study has been contradicted by numerous other studies since 2002.
References for this article
• AHA/ACC/HRS. 2014 Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: Executive Summary: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation. 2014; 130: e199-e267 DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041.

• AHA/ACC/HRS 2014 Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation. Circulation. published online March 28, 2014, 4.2.1. Antiplatelet Agents, p 29.doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041 Last accessed Nov 23, 2014.URL: From http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1854230

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