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


Doctors & Facilities

Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib

by Steve S. Ryan, Last updated: August 24, 2020

When your family doctor first suspects you have A-Fib, they will probably send you to a cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in the heart.

The cardiologist will want to put you on different medications (called Drug Therapy) over the next six months to a year or more to see if any of these medications will stop or control your A-Fib. 

But current A-Fib medications are not very effective. They work for only about 40% of patients and frequently stop working over time. Many people can’t tolerate the bad side effects.

Know that time is of the essence in treating A-Fib. The longer you have A-Fib, the more your A-Fib may “remodel” your heart (i.e. change it physically and electrically). Read Dr. Oussama Wazni’s advice about drug therapy:

“…Once the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation is made, it’s important not to spend too much time trying to keep a patient in normal rhythm with medical (drug) therapy…before referring them to catheter ablation.”  

– Dr. Oussama Wazni, Co-Director of the Center for Atrial Fibrillation at the Cleveland Clinic

 How to Start Your Search

To seek treatments beyond medications, you may need to change doctors.

Since Atrial Fibrillation is an electrical problem, you should see a Cardiac Electrophysiologist (EP)a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical activity of the heart and in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

A-Fib is an electrical problem. Patients should see an Electrophysiologist, an EP, a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical activity of the heart.

The EP’s primary concern is creating a ‘treatment plan’—an organized path to finding your A-Fib cure or best outcome.

To find the right doctor for you, seek recommendations from your General Practitioner (GP) and from other A-Fib patients (see Resources/Bulletin Boards for a list of online discussion groups).

If you know nurses or support staff who work in the cardiology field or in Electrophysiology (EP) labs, they can be great resources.

When you go to A-Fib centers with several EPs, be aware that the office will tend to assign you to the newest, least experienced EP on staff. You should instead do your research first and ask for a particular EP you know is more experienced; for example, someone with the initials FHRS after his name or a Castle Connolly Top Doctor.

Finding a Heart Rhythm Specialist’ Online

To find a local Electrophysiologist yourself, we recommend the Heart Rhythm Society website and their feature called Finding a Heart Rhythm Specialist’. ‘Check’ the box “to limit the results to Fellows of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS)”. (EPs with the FHRS designation have been recognized by their peers and are experienced heart rhythm professionals working in the field of electrophysiology and/or pacing).

When you type in a U.S. city and state (or country), the site gives you a list of Electrophysiologists in your area. Check for their list of specialties (not all EPs perform catheter ablations, for example; some focus on pacing/pacemakers, or clinical research, etc.). Look for additional information such as which medical insurance they accept.

 Our A-Fib.com Directory

This A-Fib.com Directory of Doctors and Facilities is an evolving list of the physicians and medical centers who treat patients with atrial fibrillation. Our directory is offered as a service and convenience to A-Fib patients. It’s divided into sections:

U.S. Doctors and Centers by state/city
International listings by country or geographic region.
• Steve’s Lists’ of doctors by specialty.

 Organize Your Research

To find the right doctor to cure your A-Fib, start your research with a notebook and a three-ring binder or a file folder. Learn Why You Need an A-Fib Notebook and 3-Ring Binder.

You need to organize the information you will be collecting: printouts of information from the internet, copies of documents from your local public library or medical center library, notes from phone calls, and answers to “interview” questions during doctor consultations.

Your 3-ring binder, or file folder is also where to collect copies of all your lab tests, notes from doctor visits, doctor correspondence, etc.

Obtain Copies of Your Medical Records, Tests, and Images

If you need to request copies of some medical records, read our article, How to Request Copies of your Medical Records. We give you three ways to request your medical records from your doctors and healthcare providers.

Later, when you are ready to interview new doctors, you will want to send each office a packet with your medical records, test results, and images or X-rays. (As a back-up, bring your three-ring binder with the originals.)

We strongly encourage you to get in the habit of keeping a copy of every test result you get in a designated three-ring binder.

Don’t leave your doctor’s office or hospital without a copy of every test they perform. Or if the test result isn’t immediately available, have them mail it to you.

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 Researching Doctors and Centers

Don’t rely on a single online source when researching and selecting doctors. Be cautious of all doctor informational listings you find on web sites (yes, including this one).

Doctors may be listed or appear most prominently because they pay for that privilege (but not so at A-Fib.com). Read my article, Don’t be Fooled by Pay-to-Play Online Doctor Referral Sites.

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.

 How to Find the Information

You must do your own homework. To narrow down your list of prospective doctors you will want to scrutinize their credentials. To research each doctor, consult the internet or your local library. One or more of the following online resources may be helpful.

Credential Acronyms: For an explanation of the acronyms following a physician’s name, see Physician Credentials.

The Heart Rhythm Society ‘Find a Specialist searchable directory for a doctor’s specialties, insurance accepted, etc.;
The American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists;
The American Board of Internal Medicine; Check a doctor’s certification;
Vitals, an independent healthcare ratings organization; provides physician’s profile, education, awards & recognition, insurance accepted, hospital affiliations, and info on malpractice and sanctions.

 Your Consultation Appointments

Narrow down your list to the top three doctors. Now you are ready to set up a consultation appointment with each doctor. Think of this as an interview. Don’t worry, doctors are also ‘interviewing’ you to determine if they can help you. What to say:

1. You have Atrial Fibrillation, and what kind (paroxysmal, persistent or long-standing persistent);

2. You want to consult with the doctor about your treatment goals, for example, you are seeking to cure your A-Fib, not just manage it with drugs.

Note: some EPs have a “referrals only” policy, which means they won’t talk to you directly. You have to be referred by a cardiologist or a family doctor.

Send Your Medical Records Beforehand

Before your appointment, send each doctor a packet with your A-Fib-related medical records. To learn what to include in your packet of medical records, read Why You Need an A-Fib Notebook and 3-Ring Binder and Your Personal A-Fib Medical Summary.

Download our worksheet

Questions to Ask: Use Our Free Worksheet

To help you scrutinize prospective doctors, we’ve written a set of 10 interview questions to help get you started. Download the FREE PDF and save to your hard drive. Then, print a worksheet for each doctor you interview. 

(To ‘interpret’ the doctors’ answers on the worksheet, see our article, “Choosing the Right Doctor: 10 Questions You’ve Got to Ask And What Their Answers Mean“.)

Prepare and add your own list of questions for each prospective doctor.

During Your “Interview”

Never see a doctor alone...carry pen & paper and take lots of notes; A-Fib.comWhen you arrive at the doctors offices’, make sure they have indeed received your medical records. (As a back-up, bring your own originals from your three-ring A-Fib binder.)

Be sure you have your worksheets and list of other questions, a notepad and pen to take lots of notes.

Audio Recording: In addition, consider using an audio recorder to help you remember things. (Most doctors don’t mind, but always ask permission beforehand.) Many cell phones can be used to make a recording.

Take Along a Trusted Friend: You may want to take along a trusted friend or family member. As needed, your ‘personal advocate’ can question the doctor for you and verify your list of questions have been answered. It’s hard to be on top of your game when you feel ill and anxious. Studies show that patients immediately forget up to 80% of what’s discussed during a doctor visit, and get about half of the remainder wrong.

Afterwards, your patient advocate friend can help you evaluate the doctor’s answers, discuss anything that’s unclear and comment on the doctor’s demeanor.

To intrepret the doctor’s answers, see our article, “Choosing the Right Doctor: 10 Questions You’ve Got to Ask And What Their Answers Mean.

Afterwards: How to Interpret the Answers You Received

Back home, study your notes about each doctor. To ‘interpret’ the doctors’ answers, see our article, “Choosing the Right Doctor: 10 Questions You’ve Got to Ask (And What Their Answers Mean)“.  We’ve included the various responses you might receive, and what each response means to you when searching for the right doctor for you and your treatment goals.

Also Assess the Doctor’s Manner and Personality

Warning - cautionYou’ll also want to assess the doctor’s manner and personality. Is this someone who will work with you? Someone who listens to how A-Fib makes you feel? If the doctor has an accent, are they still clear, concise and communicate well? Does this doctor inspire confidence? Are they encouraging and supportive? Is this someone you feel comfortable with and trust with your health care?

Your relationship with your doctor is important. See our post: ‘Do you Like’ Your Doctor, Do You ‘Connect’?…How it Affects Your Health

Rudeness, bad temper, boorish behavior, etc. from a doctor, no matter how highly recommended, should be a red flag for you. That kind of behavior is not just personally offensive but can be dangerous for your health.

Gender bias: Does he/she respect you? Women in particular should be wary of condescending behavior. ReadIt’s All In Your Mind” Her MD Said. Women in the US often don’t receive the proper diagnosis and treatment of their A-Fib.

To read more about gender bias by doctors, see “The Facts About Women with A-Fib: Mother Nature and Gender Bias—Or—Get Thee to an EP ASAP

Does the poor behavior also extend to how the doctor treats his staff? Patients of doctors “who don’t show respect for their medical staff have much higher rates of adverse effects, than patients of their more congenial colleagues,” according to Gerald B. Hickson, MD of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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.

But do give the doctor a break. They may be having a bad day or may have heard your questions too many times before. So say something, speak up! Or contact the patient-relations representative at the medical center. They want to know if a doctor is rude (those patients are more likely to sue!). Once a doctor’s bad behavior is called to his attention, they are likely to do better. And you’ll feel better, too.

 Evaluate the Consultations

After seeing your top three doctors, compare their answers. Did one doctor stand out?  If not, you may want to go back to your research list for number four and five on your list and set up appointments with them too.)

 Directory of Doctors & Medical Centers

The A-Fib.com Directory of Doctors lists US & international physicians and medical centers treating Atrial Fibrillation patients. This evolving list is offered as a service and convenience to A-Fib patients. (Unlike other directories, we accept no fee to be included.) The directory is divided into three categories.

US Doctors and Medical Centers (by state/city)
International: Doctors and Medical Centers (by country or region)

For a list of EPs doing Catheter Ablation procedures, see Steve’s Lists/US EPs with FHRS-designation performing A-Fib ablations by US State/City.

 For surgeons performing Maze/Mini-Maze operations, see Doctors & Facilities/Steve’s Lists Doctors by Specialties and more specifically, US Surgeons performing Maze and Mini-Maze operations.

Resources for this article

• Shannonhouse, R. “Is Your Doctor a Bully?” Bottom Line Health, September 2013, p. 2.

• Fellowship in the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) Information. Heart Rhythm Society website. Accessed April 8, 2014. URL:http://www.hrsonline.org/Membership/FHRS-Information

• Makary, Marty. “7 Things Your Hospital Won’t Tell You (That Could Hurt You)” Bottom Line Personal, Volume 34, Number 2, January 15, 2013. p1.

• Hussein, AA, et al. Radiofrequency Ablation of Persistent Atrial Fibrillation: Diagnosis-to-Ablation Time, Markers of Pathways of Atrial Remodeling, and Outcomes. Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology. 2016;9:e003669. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCEP.115.003669.

• McDaniel, Susan H. The Right Way to Ask Your Doctor Questions. Bottom Line Health. Volume 31, Number 4, April 2017, p. 14.

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If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Monday, August 24, 2020  

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

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

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

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

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

Steer Clear of Conflicts of Interest

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

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

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

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

When to be Suspicious of Doctors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

How’s the Rapport With Your Doctor?

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

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

Five Things A-Fib Patients Do Not Want To Hear

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

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


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


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

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

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

Five Things A-Fib Patients Do Want To Hear

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


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


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

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

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

Changing Doctors Can Be Scary: We Can Help

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

(How would you answer her question?)

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

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

Five Things A-Fib Patients Do Not Want To Hear

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

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

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

How Does Your A-Fib Doctor Measure Up?

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

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

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

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

It may be time for you to change doctors.

Five Things A-Fib Patients Do Want To Hear

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

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

Is 2019 the Year You Fire Your Doctor?

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

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

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

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

Changing Doctors Can Be Scary

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

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

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

Resources for this Article

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

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

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

A-Fib Patients: 2018-2019 Top Rated Hospitals for Cardiology & Heart Surgery

Out of nearly 5,000 hospitals evaluated, U.S. News has published their 2018-2019 Best Hospitals rankings and ratings which also includes rankings for 16 specialties. The top 16 Best Hospitals national specialty rankings are updated annually.

U.S. News estimates that nearly 2 million hospital inpatients a year face the prospect of surgery or special care that poses either unusual technical challenges or significantly heightened risk of death or harm. The rankings can help patients find sources of especially skilled inpatient care.

Top Cardiology & Heart Surgery Hospitals for 2018-2019

Atrial Fibrillation patients may be most interested in the Top Hospitals for Cardiology & Heart Surgery. A partial list of the top rated hospitals follows (click a score card for the hospital’s full review):

Cardiology & Heart Surgery

#1 Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH); score card 100/100
#2 Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN); score card 99.6/100
#3 Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles, CA); score card 84.3/100
#4 New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell (New York, NY); score card 83.3/100
#5 Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA); score card 79.8/100
#6 Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian (Philadelphia, PA); score card 78.0/100
#7 Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago area); score card 76.9/100

On their website, U.S. News provides information about 613 hospitals in Cardiology & Heart Surgery that see many challenging patients, including those needing heart transplants, those with cardiovascular disease and other complex heart conditions.The 50 top-scoring hospitals are ranked. The rankings should just be a starting point when choosing a hospital.

How Are the Top Hospitals Chosen? A complete description of the data analysis, the 2018-19 Best Hospitals Methodology Report, is available as a viewable and downloadable PDF.

Look up Your Local Hospital

Is your local hospital one of the over 600 listed? Go to the Best Hospitals for Cardiology & Heart Surgery page to search for any hospital treating heart patients to read their rating information. The 50 top-scoring hospitals are ranked, followed by high performing hospitals.

Search for any hospital and any expertise: On the same page, you can also reset the parameters and search by specialty or procedure and by location or zip code.

Choosing the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib

To learn how to find the right doctor and medical center for you and your treatment goals, go to our page, Finding the Right Doctor for You where we take you step by step through it all.

Steve’s Directory of Doctors and Medical Centers is unlike other directories—we accept no fee to be included.

Also see Steve’s Directory of Doctors & Medical Centers. Our list is unique because we list only those cardiologists, electrophysiologists (EPs) and surgeons who treat Atrial Fibrillation patients. The directory is divided into three categories: U.S., international and Steve’s Lists: Doctors by Specialties. (Unlike other directories, we accept no fee to be included.)

Organized by U. S. city/state, country/region or specialty, you’ll find doctor’s names and contact information. (This evolving list is offered as a free service and convenience to A-Fib patients.)

Heart-Filled Thanks to our A-Fib.com Advisory Board of Electrophysiologists and Surgeons

To publish A-Fib.com I seek advise and opinions from many expert cardiac electrophysiologists and surgeons many of whom are members of our A-Fib.com Advisory BoardWe invite readers to browse the names of members and their affiliations.

Since the start of A-Fib.com in 2002, many cardiac electrophysiologists (EP) and surgeons have given me invaluable advice and support. They have helped make our website the ‘go-to’ destination for over 350,000 visitors a year. (In fact, we’ve been recognized by Healthline.com as a top A-Fib blog since 2014).

It’s a great blessing to be able to tap into the knowledge and experience of these talented professionals when writing on a difficult A-Fib subject or to get help for an A-Fib.com reader with a difficult case.

From all regions of the U.S., and from France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Australia, these doctors may not always agree with all my positions, but they try to point me in the right direction.

Sharing the names and affiliations of The A-Fib.com Advisory Board with you is one way to publicly thank the board members and acknowledge their continued support.

I encourage you to go to The A-Fib.com Advisory Board page and review the list of members. (You can also find the link at “About Us“.) 

After 5 Years A-Fib Free, Terry Shares “I Wish I Had Seen an EP Sooner Than I Did”

For over 15 years Terry Traver, Thousand Oaks, CA, suffered with A-Fib. At first, he’d have a 15-hour episode every three months or so. Over the years, though, his A-Fib progressed to persistent and severe to the point of being unable to work.

Sadly, during this time, he was never referred to a cardiologist (and certainly not to cardiac Electrophysiologist). Luckily, a friend put him in touch with a clinical electrophysiologist (EP). In March 2012, he had a successful catheter ablation with a touch-up ablation the following July.

Terry’s Lessons Learned

Terry Traver’s regrets

After being A-Fib free for five years, Terry shared his A-Fib story with our A-Fib.com readers. His ‘Lessons Learned’ include these two regrets:

• I would have had the ablation much sooner. No G.P. [family doctor] ever mentioned ablation as an option. I only heard about it from a friend!

• I had never heard of an electrophysiologist (EP), and wish I had seen one sooner.

Finding the Right Doctor for You

I’m still amazed when an A-Fib patient tells me their family doctor didn’t refer them to a cardiologist, and more importantly, to a cardiac Electrophysiologist.

GP, cardiologist or EP?

Consult the right type of cardiologist: Most cardiologists deal with the vascular or pumping functions of the heart (think ‘plumber’). But Atrial Fibrillation is a problem with the electrical function of your heart (think electrician).

It’s important for A-Fib patients to see a cardiac Electrophysiologist (EP)—a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical activity of the heart and in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

Educate yourself on treatment options: It’s so important for patients to educate themselves to receive the best treatment. Terry writes that in his 15 years with A-Fib, his GP never referred him to a cardiologist or an EP. Thank goodness a friend stepped in to help him.

Urgency! A-Fib is a Progressive Disease

The longer you wait, the worse A-Fib tends to get. Look at Terry’s story. His disease progressed to Persistent Atrial Fibrillation and was incapacitating.

To learn how to find the right doctor, go to our page: Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your Treatment Goals.

Selecting the Right Doctor: the Plumber vs. the Electrician

Start with the Right Doctor for You

To be cured of your Atrial Fibrillation, you need to hire the right doctor.

Seek a heart rhythm specialist, a cardiac electrophysiologist (EP), who will partner with you to create a treatment plan—a path to finding your cure or best outcome.

To make this happen, see my page, Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib.

Warren W.

In his A-Fib story, Warren Welsh of Melbourne, Australia, offers other A-Fib patients this advice:

“I would urge any A-Fib sufferers not to make the same mistakes I did…I experienced several years of unnecessary suffering by accepting an opinion of one specialist who said I would have to live in A-Fib.”

To Seek Your Cure—Hire the Right Doctor

Patient Advice: The First Doctor You See isn’t Necessarily the Right One for You

Advice from Patients Now Free from the Burden of Atrial Fibrillation

Susan Klein, comes from a long line of people with cardiac rhythm disorders. She recalls finally being properly diagnosed:

Susan K.

“I began reading everything I could about the condition but mainly how to make it stop.

Along the way I can’t recall how many times I was told to take the medicine and stop looking for trouble. 

I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the naysayers, because today I’m A-Fib free and loving it.”

Warren Welsh, Melbourne, Australia, talks about the years he needlessly endured A-Fib, in part, based on one doctor’s advice:

Warren W.

“I would urge any A-Fib sufferers not to make the same mistakes I did by not researching their treatment options.

…I experienced several years of unnecessary suffering by accepting an opinion of one specialist who said I would have to live in A-Fib.

Sheri Weber, from Boyce, VA, shared this advice about finding the right doctor for your treatment goals:

Sheri Weber on A-fib.com

Sheri W.

“I wish I had realized that the first doctor you see is not necessarily the right one for you. I fooled around way too long, believing what my cardio doctor said. I should have been thinking outside the box. 

Run―don’t walk―to the best specialist you can find in your area.” 

How to Find the Best Doctor for You

To be cured of your A-Fib, you may need to ‘fire’ your current doctor.

Seek a heart rhythm specialist, a cardiac electrophysiologist (EP), who will partner with you to create a treatment plan—a path to finding your cure or best outcome.

To make this happen, see my page, Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib.

The First Doctor You See is Not Necessarily the Right One for You.


From The Top 10 List of A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice’ , a consensus of valuable advice from fellow Atrial Fibrillation patients; Chapter 12, Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure by Steve S. Ryan, PhD.

Go to Top 10 List of A-Fib Patients’ Best Advice
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