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


Coping with Atrial Fibrillation

Book Review: “Your Complete Guide to AFib” by Percy Morales, MD

Review by Steve S. Ryan, PhD

I received an advance copy of “Your Complete Guide to AFib―The Essential Manual for Every Patient With Atrial Fibrillation” by Dr. Percy Morales and asked for a review. The opinions given are my own.

Caveat: $149.95 to be Cured of AFib

Abbreviations for Atrial Fibrillation include: AFib, A-Fib and AF.

Dr. Morales’ book encourages readers to sign up for his “takecontroloverafib.com” program at $149.95 a pop. It’s very surprising to see a medical doctor engage in a direct marketing-type sales hustle. His “Guide to Healthy Living” reads like a Tony Robbins motivational presentation but applied to AFib.

[I personally was very discouraged and depressed reading Dr. Morales’ work.]

Style of Dr. Morales’ Book

“Your Complete Guide to AFib” is written by a working Electrophysiologist (EP). It’s a thin book, 119 pages, without a lot of content. But what’s there is clear and based on Dr. Morales’ own experience.

In terms of style, Dr. Morales’ book is a dull read with too many proofreading errors for such a small volume.

Instead of standard footnotes, he cites actual web sites which doesn’t work well. (Website addresses and pages change every day. As a solo source, they are not a reliable one.)

Is There No Cure for AFib?

A major shortcoming of Dr. Morales’ book is he doesn’t acknowledge that AFib can be cured, that you don’t have to live in AFib. This is discouraging and a turn-off for many readers. He isn’t big on hope.

Causes of AFib

Under “Causes of AFib” Dr. Morales doesn’t discuss or acknowledge Lone AFib where people who are perfectly healthy get AFib and don’t have any comorbidities (around 50% of AFib cases, including me) (p. 16). But on page 99 he does acknowledge that, “some younger patients will be diagnosed with AFib where there is no clear cause for it.”

Most people who develop AFib are not sick with other diseases. And even if one is sick with, for example, high blood pressure, we can’t say for sure that high blood pressure “caused” a particular person’s AFib.

Is AFib Your Fault?

Dr. Morales implies that it’s a patient’s fault that they developed AFib, because they let themselves get sick with “comorbidities” which brought on their AFib (p. 16). … Continue reading this book review..->

Copy of FAQs Coping with A-Fib: Pacemaker for Too Slow a Heart?

 FAQs Coping with A-Fib: Pacemaker

FAQs A-Fib afib“Now my doctor says I need a pacemaker, because my heart rate is too slow and because I’m developing pauses.

I’m an athlete with A-Fib and have a naturally slow heart rate. Since I developed A-Fib, I was put on atenolol (a beta blocker) which really slows down my heart rate.  What should I do?”

Get a second opinion. It’s crazy to go through the risks and lifestyle disruptions of having a pacemaker implanted just to be able to continue taking atenolol.

Because you are an athlete, your heart rate is naturally slow. But it’s normal for you.

As long as you feel fine and aren’t fainting from lack of blood flow, don’t be talked into getting a pacemaker. A slow or even very slow heart rate usually doesn’t cause any harm. As for heart rates, “normal” is indeed a wide swath.

In the words of Dr. John Mandrola:

“Do not implant pacemakers in patients with nonsymptomatic bradycardia (slow heart rate).The same holds for pauses, though they are certainly of more concern than a slow heart rate. Nonsymptomatic slow heart rate or pauses don’t justify exposing patients to the risks of implanting a pacemaker.”

Do not implant pacemakers in patients with nonsymptomatic bradycardia. This includes the wide spectrum of sinus node dysfunction (SND), asymptomatic pauses in patients with permanent AF, and young patients with medication-induced bradycardia. Humans exhibit tremendous variation of heart rate, and impressively slow heart rates frequently cause patients no harm. As for heart rates, ”normal” is indeed a wide swath. Unlike the more sinister high-degree AV block, SND is not immediately fatal. In 2012, there exist many strategies for the treatment of arrhythmia that do not include exposing patients to the risks of implanting a permanent intravascular device.

But be advised that pacemakers tend to have bad effects over the long term, “…long-term morbidity (is) associated with a pacemaker.”
 Another consideration is that implanting pacemaker ‘leads’ in the veins of the upper chest often prevents or hinders future procedures that require vascular access like a PVI. A pacemaker usually isn’t implanted unless your heart rate is too slow or you have Sinus Node and/or Atrioventricular (AV) Node problems.

Resources for this article
¤  Mandrola, John “Choosing wisely: The electrophysiology list of five don’ts.” http://blogs.theheart.org/trials-and-fibrillations-with-dr-john-mandrola/2012/4/9/choosing-wisely.

¤  Atrial Fibrillation Educational Material” University of Pennsylvania. 2002, p. 3.

¤  “Should atrial fibrillation ablation be considered first-line therapy for some patients?” Circulation 2005;112:1214-1231, p. 1228.

Back to FAQs: Coping with Your A-Fib 
Last updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Update->FAQs Coping with A-Fib Stroke: What Your Family Should Learn Now

 FAQs Coping with A-Fib: Stroke Action Plan

FAQs A-Fib afib“In case I have an A-Fib-related stroke, what does my family need to know to help me? (I’m already on a blood thinner.)  What can I do to improve my odds of surviving it?

Stroke is the most dreaded effect of having A-Fib. And an A-Fib-related stroke is usually worse because the clots tends to be larger. They often result in death or permanent disability.

Here are some basic facts and steps you and your family can take to prepare for and what to do if stroke strikes any member of your family.

Prepare Your Plan: The 4 Steps

For your own and your family’s peace of mind, you need to create a ‘Stroke Action Plan’.

Step 1: Learn the Signs of a Stroke

Make it a family affair. Discuss the most common signs of stroke: sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body.  Stroke may be associated with a headache, or may be completely painless. Each person may have different stroke warning signs.

Step 2―Ask Your Doctor

Discuss with your doctor what actions to take in case of stroke. For example, some doctors recommend aspirin to help avoid a second ischemic stroke (A-Fib). If so, ask what dosage.

Step 3―Locate Your Nearest ‘Certified Stroke Center’

Why a Certified Stroke Center? If a stroke victim gets to a Certified Stroke Center within four hours, there is a good chance specialists can dissolve the clot without any lasting damage.

Only a fraction of the 5,800 acute-care hospitals in the U.S are certified as providing state-of-the-art stroke care.

A certified or ‘Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center’ is typically the largest and best-equipped hospital in a given geographical area that can treat any kind of stroke or stroke complication.

A Certified Stroke Center will have drugs such as Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) to dissolve the clot. Can use Clopidogrel or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) to stop platelets from clumping together to form clots. Or use anticoagulants to keep existing blood clots from getting larger.

So do your homework. To find the nearest certified or ‘Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center’ check these listings:

Find A Certified U.S. Stroke Center Near You/NPR News
Find a Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center

Step 4―Post Your ‘Stroke Action Plan’

Write up the three components of your plan (i.e., the signs of stroke, aspirin dosage and location of the nearest Certified Stroke Center).

What about your workplace? Locate the nearest Certified Stroke Center to your job, too, and post a copy.

Also, print handouts with the name and address of the nearest Certified Stroke Center (Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center) for EMS responders. Keep a bottle of aspirin nearby.

Store your ‘Stroke Action Plan’ in a special binder or post so that family can easily find the information.

If a Stroke Strikes: Work the Plan

1. Immediately call your emergency medical services (EMS)―even if the person having the stroke doesn’t want you to. (e.g., 911 in US and Canada, 0000 in Australia, 999 in the UK.)

Note: DO NOT try to diagnose the problem by yourself, and DO NOT wait to see if the symptoms go away on their own.

2. While waiting for EMS, administer aspirin in the proper dosage (if advised by your doctor beforehand) to help avoid a second stroke.

Note: The emergency operator might connect you to a hospital that gives you instructions based on symptoms.

3. When EMS arrives, tell them to take the patient to your nearest Certified Stroke Center (give them a handout with the name and address).

Note: If necessary, be firm, insist they go to your choice of Certified Stroke Center. (Realize that some paramedics and ambulance services have side deals with hospitals to take patients to their hospitals, even if it’s not the right hospital for stroke victims.)

The Wrap Up

A ‘Stroke Action Plan’ with specific steps is reassuring during a medical emergency and helps everyone stay calm. Your family will be confident they’re supporting you in taking the right action at the right time.

The only guarantee of not having an A-Fib stroke is to no longer have A-Fib.

Know that quickly going to a certified or ‘Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center’ may save you from the debilitating effects of an A-Fib stroke, or even death.

For additional reading, see Ablation Reduces Stroke Risk to that of a Normal Person.

References for this article
Chen ZM, et al. Indications for early aspirin use in acute ischemic stroke: A combined analysis of 40,000 randomized patients from the Chinese acute stroke trial and the international stroke trial. On behalf of the CAST and IST collaborative groups. Stroke. 2000 Jun;31(6):1240-9

Why Choose Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification. The Joint Commission. June 20, 2014. http://tinyurl.com/JC-comprehensive-stroke-ctr

Emergency Telephone Numbers Around the World. ChartBin.com URL: http://chartsbin.com/view/1983

Find A Certified U.S. Stroke Center Near You. NPR News. Updated October 29, 2015. URL: http://tinyurl.com/certified-stroke-center

Find a Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center: Search by US state. The Internet Stroke Center.  URL: http://www.strokecenter.org/trials/centers/

Back to FAQs: Coping with Your A-Fib
Last updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

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

New Research into Alcohol & A-Fib: How Many Drinks are Too Many?

by Steve S. Ryan, PhD, 2017, Last updated: March 2019

While moderate amounts of alcohol appear protective for the ‘plumbing,’ or blood supply to the heart muscle, the benefits of alcohol do not extend to the electrical parts of the heart, or heartbeat.”

Over time, drinking may actually change the electrical signals, triggering irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias).

“The benefits of alcohol do not extend to the electrical parts of the heart.”

Risk per Daily Alcohol Drink

A new study found the risk of atrial fibrillation grew by 8 percent for each daily alcoholic drink. The findings were similar for men and women. The authors looked at previous studies that tracked almost 900,000 people over 12 years.

Fibrosis: The study doesn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Nevertheless, “cell damage from habitual drinking may lead to small amounts of fibrous tissue within the heart that causes the irregular, quivering heartbeat”, the study authors said.

Post-catheter ablation: The review found that people who continue to drink are more likely to have ongoing irregular heartbeats even after catheter ablation.

Weekly recommendation: “..No more than one alcoholic drink per day with two alcohol-free days a week.”

Weekly Alcohol Recommendation

Dr. Pater Kistler recommended that those with irregular heartbeat “should probably drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day with two alcohol-free days a week.”

He added they had no randomized data that tells what a ‘safe’ amount is to consume. The study authors called for more research to determine whether avoiding alcohol completely is required for patients who have irregular heartbeats.

New Study Recommends Complete Abstinence If You Have A-Fib

Participants consuming at least 10 standard drinks per week were randomized to abstinence or usual consumption. Abstinence prolonged A-Fib-free survival by 37% and lowered A-Fib burden from 8.2% to 5.6%. Those in the abstinence arm also experienced improved symptom severity, weight loss, and BP control.

Know Your Triggers

Some Atrial Fibrillation patients have sworn off alcohol altogether. Through trial and error, they’ve found that any amount of alcohol contributes to or triggers their A-Fib episodes.

Dr. Kistler’s research is helpful for the balance of A-Fib patients. It offers some research-based guidelines to minimize the impact of alcohol consumption on their A-Fib.

For additional reading, see my article:Holiday Heart”: Binging Alcohol, Marijuana & Rich Foods.

But once you are A-Fib free as by a catheter ablation, moderate alcohol consumption may not be a problem or induce A-Fib.

Resources for this article

▪ Voskoboinik, A. et al. Alcohol and Atrial Fibrillation: A Sobering Review. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol. 68, No. 11, 2016. http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/accj/68/23/2567.full.pdf

▪ Dotinga, R. Regular Drinkers, Irregular Heartbeat? WebMD.com. Dec 5, 2016. URL: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/news/20161205/regular-drinkers-irregular-heartbeat

▪ Even moderate, habitual alcohol consumption can cause irregular heartbeat. Medical Xpress. Dec 5, 2016.  URL: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-12-moderate-habitual-alcohol-consumption-irregular.html

▪ Pearson, Anthony. Alcohol-AF Trial. MedPage Today, March 23, 2019. American College of Cardiology meeting presentation, New Orleans

It Takes Time to Find the Right Treatment Plan for You: Learn all Your Options

A-Fib begets A-Fib. The longer you have A-Fib, the greater the risk of your A-Fib episodes becoming more frequent and longer, often leading to continuous A-Fib. (However, some people never progress to more serious A-Fib stages.)

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

Educate Yourself: Learn All Your Options

A-Fib is not a “one-size fits all” type of disease. You need a personalized treatment plan. To begin, first educate yourself about Atrial Fibrillation, and then review all your treatment options. See Overview of A-Fib, Find the Right Doctor for You and Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation. A-Fib treatments include both short-term and long-term approaches aimed at controlling or eliminating the abnormal heart rhythm associated with A-Fib.

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

Build a Support System: We Can Help

You are not alone. Many, many others with A-Fib have been where you are now and are ready to share their experiences and insights.

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 support volunteers offer you one-to-one support through exchanging emails and sharing their stories. To learn more, go to our page A-Fib.com’s A-Fib Support Volunteers.

Positive Thoughts/Prayer Group: At A-Fib.com we believe in healing through hope, belief, prayer and in the power of positive thoughts. To learn more about our group and how to send in your request, go to our A-Fib.com Positive Thoughts/Prayer Group.

Build Your A-Fib Treatment Plan: Know All Your Options

Resource for this article
Savelieva I, Camm J. Update on atrial fibrillation: part II. Clin Cardiol. 2008 Mar;31(3):102-8. Review. PubMed PMID: 18383050. URL Retrieved Nov 17, 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=PMID%3A%2018383050

Stop Panic Attacks, Use the THOUGHTARREST Technique by Janco Vorster

Janco Vorster is a blogger who shares his heart arrhythmia journey at My Afib Heart. Diagnosed at age 24, he had his first anxiety attack a couple years later. Fear was his closest companion for a while. He writes, “Then as if sent from above I went to see a psychiatrist. He helped me to understand that I cannot be in control all the time.”

In his post, When Panic And Anxiety Wants to Take Over Your World, Janco describes his method for dealing with the anxiety that often accompanies Atrial Fibrillation. He writes that his THOUGHTARREST technique has not only helped him with his panic attacks, but its use and understanding has had a big impact in his life.

THOUGHTARREST

Stop Panic! Arrest Your Thoughts

1. DO NOT DENY OR SUPPRESS IT
Look deep into what you are really fearing in the thought or symptoms you are experiencing. Dismantle the thought.

2. WRITE IT DOWN, OR TALK ABOUT IT.
When you write down your thought you “capture” it. Write down how bad it is or was. Don’t sugarcoat it!

3. WRITE DOWN A “BETTER” STATEMENT.
If you get thoughts of “I cannot breathe” rather write down “I feel as if I cannot breathe but I am.”

4. UNMASK AND EXPOSE THE FALSE THOUGHT.
Now that you have your panic attack or anxiety thought pinned down on paper you can expose it as false, and relax.

WWW.MYAFIBHEART.COM

About Janco Vorster: He was born with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. After surgery as a child, his TOF (and an enlarged right atria), made him susceptible to heart arrhythmia. His A-Fib was diagnosed at age 24. After numerous cardioversions over several years, he had an ablation (followed by some intermittent episodes afterwards). He lives in South Africa and has been A-Fib free for several years. His blog is My Afib Heart.

Read the Janco Vorster post, “4 Steps Before You Do a THOUGHTARREST” at My Afib Heart. It’s based on a mixture of CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy), CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and his own experience with panic attacks.

Atrial Fibrillation Patients: Guide on How to Get Started with Yoga

In our article, FAQs about Natural Therapies: Yoga and A-Fib, Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy describes his research with A-Fib patients and how yoga provides a powerful connection between mind and body. “It affects heart rhythm through its significant influence on the [nervous system].” It improves symptoms and arrhythmia burden, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves quality of life (QoL).”

Yoga can be adjusted to any level or intensity. Just start slowly! It doesn’t need much equipment: a mat to prevent slipping and provide padding and perhaps a folded blanket, when needed, to support your knees.

Dr. Lakkireddy cautions that yoga isn’t a substitute for medical treatment, but it can be a good adjunct.

Beginner’s Yoga Guide for A-Fib Patients

We found a great article, Yoga for Atrial Fibrillation, on EverydayHealth.com that offers a beginner’s yoga guide for A-Fib patients.

To get you started, they include directions for seven simple poses each with an illustration. Here’s an example of the instructions:

Yoga for Atrial Fibrillation: Table Pose
This pose helps you warm up and is a starting position for other yoga moves. How to do it:
1. Come to the floor on your hands and knees. Bring the knees hip-width apart, with feet directly behind the knees. Bring palms directly under the shoulders with fingers facing forward.

Photo credit: yogabasics.com

2. Look down between the palms and allow the back to be flat. Press into the palms to drop the shoulders slightly away from the ears. Press tailbone toward the back wall and the crown of the head toward the front wall to lengthen spine.
3. Breathe deeply and hold for 1-3 breaths. 
Special considerations: Place a blanket under the knees to protect them from pressure and stress. Make fists with your hands to reduce pressure on the wrists. Avoid this pose if you’ve had recent or chronic knee or hip injury or inflammation.

For the other six poses and to read the entire article, go to Yoga for Atrial Fibrillation at EverydayHealth.com. According to YogaBasics.com: “By concentrating on your breathing and being present in the poses, you’ll feel the benefits immediately.”

For Atrial Fibrillation patients, yoga can be an effective complementary therapy and a part of your A-Fib treatment plan. Also see our article, FAQs about Natural Therapies: Yoga and A-Fib.

Always consult your doctor before starting a yoga exercise program. For example, if you have high blood pressure, you may need to avoid yoga poses in which your head and heart are lower than the rest of your body, such as the Downward-Facing Dog.

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners
by H. David Coulter, PhD

Resources for this article
Lakkireddy, D., et al. Effect of Yoga on Arrhythmia Burden, Anxiety, Depression, and Quality of Life in Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation. Journal of the American College of Cardiology Mar 2013, 61 (11) 1177-1182; doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2012.11.060

Yoga for Atrial Fibrillation. EverydayHealth.com. Last updated: 11/14/2017.  https://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health/atrial-fibrillation/yoga-atrial-fibrillation/

Wahlstrom, M, et al. Effects of yoga in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation—a randomized controlled study. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. Vol 16, Issue 1, pp. 57 – 63. March 14, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1177/1474515116637734

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/

Calling All A-Fib Patients: Participate in On-Line Research Survey on Anxiety and A-Fib

Many of us know how debilitating the emotional component of A-Fib can be and the impact on our quality of life. We often say that Atrial Fibrillation wreaks havoc with our heads as well as with our hearts.

This is what doctoral student Sevinc E. Uzumcu is investigating—the anxiety and depression often associated with Atrial Fibrillation. She has asked all our A-Fib.com readers to help with her research.

This survey is part of her doctoral applied research project at A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences. She is seeking all A-Fib patients to answer her online questionnaire whether or not suffering with anxiety or depression.

This aspect of Atrial Fibrillation is seldom investigated.

Give Just 7 Minutes for A-Fib Research

We strongly encourage all A-Fib patients to take this online survey. I answered the questions, and it only takes about 7 minutes. Your responses are anonymous.

To participate, go to the survey “Invitation”.

Submissions will be accepted through September 30, 2018. As part of her doctoral studies, she hopes to publish the results of her research.

A-Fib Doctors Need to Treat the Emotional Effects

The A-Fib patient community really needs this research study and needs to share the findings with doctors treating A-Fib patients. Raising doctors’ awareness of the psychological aspects may encourage them to develop treatment protocols.

Kudos to doctoral student Sevinc E. Uzumcu for undertaking this research.

(In all my years of attending A-Fib conferences, I’ve never seen doctors discuss this topic. But I did! As a patient advocate, I talked on this topic to 200 cardiologists in Zurich, Switzerland at MAM 2016.)

For dealing with the anxiety associated with A-Fib, see my article: Coping With A-Fib Anxiety and the PODCAST: 15 Ways to Manage the Fear & Anxiety of Atrial Fibrillation.

The Survey Title:The Association Between Atrial Fibrillation and Anxiety

Click here to go the survey Invitation (link is at the bottom of the page).

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