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


Heart Health

Medicines, Herbs and Supplements: ‘Natural’ Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Safer, or Better

By Patti Ryan, based on an article from the National Institutes of Health

Nature has been good to us. Nature gave us aspirin and morphine, and other medicines derived from plants. The use of plants as medicines has a long history in the treatment of disease, and plants have played an important role in improving our health.

“Natural” vs. “Unnatural”

A lot of people believe that when it comes to medicine, “natural” is better, healthier and safer than “unnatural” or synthetic drugs.

Medicine and supplements: Is “natural” better, healthier and safer?

On the other hand, not all products from nature have been shown to be effective. Some dietary and herbal supplements have failed to show a benefit when scientists have studied them.

For example, several major studies of the herb Echinacea did not find evidence of benefit against the common cold. Studies of ginkgo, including a large study that enrolled more than 3,000 older adults, found that ginkgo supplements don’t help prevent or slow dementia or cognitive decline.

“Natural” Medicines Can Have Side Effects Too

Contrary to what many may think, some “natural” medicines can even have serious safety concerns.

For example, kava, a plant native to the islands of the South Pacific, and often used as a dietary supplement for anxiety, may be associated with severe liver damage.

Ephedra, an evergreen shrub-like plant native to central Asia and Mongolia that has been used for centuries for colds, fever, and other conditions, is associated with heart problems and risk of death. (In fact, the U.S. FDA banned dietary supplements with ephedrine alkaloids.)

Free of chemicals? ... But everything is made of chemicals!

Are “Natural” Medicines Chemical Free?

Some people also believe that “natural” products are safe because they believe these medicines are free of chemicals. For many, the word “chemical” has come to mean toxic or synthetic, something to be avoided.

But everything is made of chemicals. The apple on your kitchen countertop, the ceramic mug in your cupboard, and even the air that you breathe. In fact, you are made up of chemicals, too.

Some chemicals in nature are toxic to us—mercury, snake venom, arsenic, and ricin from castor beans. But other chemicals are good for us and necessary for life—like iron and oxygen (but at high doses are toxic and can even cause death).

When Considering a Herbal or Dietary Supplement

Do your research first!

It’s important to understand that although many herbal or dietary supplements (and some prescription drugs) come from natural sources, “natural” does not always mean that it’s a safer or better option for your health.

And a “chemical” ingredient can be beneficial. An herbal supplement may contain dozens of chemical compounds (but all of its ingredients may not yet be known).

Before you add herbals and supplements to complement your treatment plan, do your research! Strive to make informed decisions about your health.

Our Favorite Resources on Vitamins, Herbs and Supplements

Take charge of your health by being an informed consumer. Find out what the scientific evidence says about the safety of a supplement and whether it works. A good place to start is an unbiased, non-commercial searchable database. Here are our favorites:

1. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute/Integrative Medicine:About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products
2. Drugs.com:MedFacts Natural Products Professional database
3. The ‘Dietary Supplement Label Database’ and Herbs at a Glance at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

For a detailed report, see our FAQ: Where can I find reliable, unbiased research and information on specific vitamins and supplements

Don’t Forget: Keep Your Health Care Providers Informed

To use vitamins, herbs and supplements safely, read and follow the label instructions, and recognize that “natural” does not always mean “safe.”

It’s important to tell all your health care providers about all supplements you take. Be sure to update this information every time you visit your doctors’ offices. That way, they can help you avoid harmful interactions.

Resource for this Article
Natural Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Safer, or Better. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, USA.gov. Last modified October 19, 2017. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/know-science/natural-doesnt-mean-better

Learn to Read Your ECG: Free Online Self-Paced Courses at Healio.com

Start with the ‘ECG Basics’ course

For the reader wanting a more extensive understanding of the Electrocardiogram and A-Fib, we offer you a link to Healio Learn the Hearta FREE online cardiology resource for those seeking to increase their knowledge of ECG tracings interpretation and cardiovascular diseases.

‘Learn the Heart’: A Review or ECG Basics

I suggest you start with the ‘Atrial Fibrillation ECG Review‘ then move on to the ‘ECG Basics‘ to analyze each part of the ECG tracing. Included are detailed explanations and ECG images of the heart in Atrial Fibrillation.

The ‘ECG Basics‘ is concise and focused on only what you need to know, yet very thorough — from waves to segments to complexes. On the LearnTheHeart.com website:

⇒ Go to the Atrial Fibrillation ECG Review->
⇒ Go to the ECG Basics training module->

Reviews and Quizzes, Too

Healio ‘Atrial Fibrillation ECG Review‘ ECG graphic

You can even challenge yourself with the Beginner ECG Quiz featuring detailed answers and links to pertinent explanation pages. Or test your overall knowledge of Atrial Fibrillation with a multiple choice Atrial Fibrillation Quiz.

Other ‘Learn the Heart’ ECG Review Courses

Other ECG courses from Healio review all common ECG findings including normal and abnormal. Each review includes example 12-lead ECGs and, where appropriate, specific criteria. Of particular interest to Atrial Fibrillation patients may be:

Atrial Flutter ECG Review
Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs) ECG Review
Left Atrial Enlargement (LAE) ECG Review
Atrioventricular Nodal Reentrant Tachycardia (AVNRT) ECG Review

Steve’s Brief Overview: The EKG Signal

If you want just a brief overview of the ECG waveform signal and how to “read” an ECG tracing, go to my report, Understanding the EKG Signal.

Use Every Tool Possible: Combine Ablation With Heart Healthy Nutrients and Life-Style Changes

The trap for those who work hard at improving nutrition and supplements is they feel like a failure if they can’t stop their A-Fib with natural means alone. They keep trying one thing after another for years while avoiding an expert’s opinion about an ablation procedure.

Of all the 90+ personal A-Fib stories we’ve published on A-Fib.com, we only have one who states she was cured by natural supplements. (She takes much more than just magnesium and started when she first developed A-Fib.)

But trying natural remedies for A-Fib shouldn’t be an ‘either/or’ decision.

We should use every tool possible to put the ‘A-Fib genie back in the bottle’.

We should use every tool possible to put the ‘A-Fib genie back in the bottle’. The best approach is to combine an expert ablation procedure with permanent dietary improvements (including heart healthy nutrients and supplements) while also addressing any appropriate life-style changes (i.e., for high-blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes and obesity).

For someone who has just developed A-Fib, try to get out of A-Fib ASAP. It goes without saying that it’s not healthy and feels terrible to have A-Fib attacks.

To learn more about combining ‘tools’: go to our Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ Mineral Deficiencies and Supplements and my two articles Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart and Reader With A-Flutter Advises Two Lifestyle Changes.

Reminder About “Holiday Heart”: Binging Alcohol, Marijuana or Rich Foods

Be aware! It’s the time of year when many people end up in a hospital’s emergency room (ER) for treatment of “Holiday Heart Syndrome”, i.e., Atrial Fibrillation triggered by binging—on alcohol, heavy foods and recreational marijuana.

Overindulging in alcohol (six or more drinks) can cause surges in the body’s adrenalin, rises in the levels of free fatty acids, alterations of how sodium moves in and out of the heart cells, and a lowering of the levels of sodium, potassium, and magnesium in the body through diuresis (increased or excessive production of urine).

Does Alcohol Alone Explain Holiday Heart Syndrome?

Recreational Marjuana and A-Fib at A-Fib.com

Trigger: marijuana use

Excessive alcohol is not the only culprit. Recreational use of marijuana can compound the risk as well. Other factors include the nicotine effect in smokers (active and passive), large quantities of rich food, and even cold weather. In addition, fireplace fires and bonfires can release ultra-fine particles in the air from burnt materials and can be bad for the heart.

New Year’s Eve Party Time: Be Aware

As you celebrate, encourage others to avoid heavy alcohol consumption and try to minimize eating large quantities of food at one time. Look for the symptoms of “holiday heart” among your relatives (hereditary A-Fib) and friends. Anyone with any heart symptoms should go to the ER. If they’re lucky, it will be a one time event.

Share the Cheer of the Season

Finally, if you know someone who is depressed, alone, or isolated during the holiday season, reach out and cheer them up.

It may be the best thing you do for their heart as well as yours.

Resources for this article
Castillo, R. Beware of the ‘holiday heart’ hazard. Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 27, 2016. http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/248983/beware-holiday-heart-hazard/

Bunch, TJ, Preventing Holiday Heart Syndrome. EverydayHealth.com. 11/26/2013. http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/jared-bunch-rhythm-of-life/preventing-holiday-heart-syndrome/

Laposata EA, Lange LG. Presence of nonoxidative ethanol metabolism in human organs commonly damaged by ethanol abuse. Science. Jan 31 1986; 231(4737):497-9.

Ettinger PO, Wu CF, De La Cruz C Jr, Weisse AB, Ahmed SS, Regan TJ.  Arrhythmias and the “Holiday Heart”: alcohol-associated cardiac rhythm disorders.  Am Heart J. 1978; 95(5):555-62

Chocolate and Reduced Risk of Atrial Fibrillation: A 13-Year Study

In 2017, there’s more on the health benefits of chocolate! Accumulating evidence links chocolate to heart health and now, a lower risk of atrial fibrillation.

A 13-year Danish study published in 2017 tracked the health of 55,000 participants, aged 50–64 years. During the period, more than 3,300 cases of atrial fibrillation emerged. All of the participants had completed detailed questionnaires about their lifestyles, everything from exercise habits to what they ate and drank, including how much chocolate they consumed.

Study Results: Chocoholics Delight

“Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake,” said lead author of the study Elizabeth Mostofsky of Harvard School of Public Health.

Compared to those who ate a 1-ounce serving of chocolate less often than once a month, the risk of atrial fibrillation was:

• 10 percent lower among those who ate one to three servings a month
• 17 percent lower among those who ate one serving a week
• 20 percent lower among those who ate two to six servings of chocolate a week

Benefits of All Types of Chocolate

In the 2015 study, all types of chocolate, including milk chocolate, seemed to have the same beneficial effect.
Most of the previous studies on the chocolate-heart connection found that only dark chocolate offered any cardiovascular protection. But in a 2015 study, “any type of chocolate, including milk chocolate, seemed to have the same beneficial effect” according to Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publications.

Dr. LeWine added that while scientists aren’t sure why chocolate seems to boost heart health, it may be related to flavonoids, a type of antioxidant produced by plants.

Flavonoids are particularly abundant in cacao beans and have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage. They’ve also been shown to help thinking skills.

To Avoid A-Fib: How Much Chocolate?

The study results found “the rate of atrial fibrillation was 20 percent lower for people consuming two to six 1-ounce servings [of chocolate] per week”.

A-Fib risk was 20 percent lower among those who ate two to six (1 oz.) servings of chocolate a week.

While no recommended daily amounts have been set when it comes to chocolate (or cocoa flavonoids), the European Food Safety Authority suggests that 200 mg of cocoa flavonoids per day is a good target for the general population.

What Patients Need to Know

To reap the various health benefits of chocolate, the higher the cocoa content of the bar, the better. Look for chocolate bars with 70% cocoa or more. You may have to do some detective word, as the amount of cocoa used in chocolate varies a lot (and the amount of flavonoids in chocolate is not always listed.)

Your best bet is to stick with dark chocolate. As a general rule, dark chocolate has more cocoa and therefore more flavonoids than milk chocolate (and less sugar and saturated fat).

References for this Article
• Mostofsky E, et al. Chocolate intake and risk of clinically apparent atrial fibrillation: the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study. Heart Journal. Published Online First: 23 May 2017. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2016-310357. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/heartjnl-2016-310357

• Preidt, R. Could Chocolate Guard Against an Irregular Heartbeat? WebMD News from HealthDay. May 23, 2017. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/news/20170523/could-chocolate-guard-against-an-irregular-heartbeat#1

• Eating Chocolate, A Little Each Week, May Lower The Risk Of A Heart Flutter. Heard on All Things Considered, NPR. May 24, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/05/24/529843647/eating-chocolate-a-little-each-week-may-lower-the-risk-of-a-heart-flutter

• Kwok, CS, et al. Habitual chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease among healthy men and women. Heart 2015; 101 1253-1255 Published Online First: 24 Jul 2015. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2015-308347. URL: http://heart.bmj.com/content/101/16/1279

• LeWine, H. Sweet dreams: eating chocolate prevents heart disease. Harvard Health Publications. June 16, 2015. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sweet-dreams-eating-chocolate-prevents-heart-disease-201506168087

To Find Your A-Fib Cure, Build Your ‘Dream Team’

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!

While your ‘Dream Team’ will be unique to you, based on your age, symptoms, and other medical conditions, the core members of your Dream Team’ will include:

♥ 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, i.e. Watchman, AV Node/Pacemaker procedure, pacemaker, etc.

▪Cardiac surgeon: if you need a Maze surgery 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 relief with acupuncture. Research indicates that acupuncture may have an anti-arrhythmic effect in patients with atrial fibrillation. Read about acupuncture research.

Yoga: Many A-Fib patients practice yoga and report benefits, 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 relief with chiropractic treatments. In addition, a few clinical studies have focused on arrhythmia and ‘manipulation’ techniques. Read more.

How to Build Your ‘Dream Team’

Over 90 stories of inspiration at A-Fib.com

Seek inspiration!

Forming your ‘Dream Team’ is an important step toward seeking your A-Fib cure. To build your team, we advise you to use all the resources available to you. Ask for referrals from other A-Fib patients, family and friends, and from your doctors’ nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

For inspiration, learn how others have dealt with their atrial fibrillation. Just browse our list of over 90 A-Fib Stories of Hope and Encouragement. Read a few stories with similar symptoms to your own, age group, etc.

Also, consider corresponding with one of our A-Fib Support Volunteers. They’ve all been where you are now. They have been helped along the way, and want to help other A-Fib patients.

Photos of contributors to Personal Experiences on A-Fib.com

A few of our A-Fib Support Volunteers

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/

It’s Back! Print a High-Quality Illustration of the Heart’s Electrical System

Click to download

Update March 24: The Cleveland Clinic has given us permission to host this graphic of the Heart’s Electrical System on A-Fib.com for the viewing and printing by our readers.

Print and keep this illustration handy for the next time you talk with your doctor about the workings of your heart. Draw and make notes directly on the picture. Add comments in the text box we added at the bottom.

To get yours, just download and store on your hard-drive. To have one handy when you need it, print and store copies in your “A-Fib Binder or folder“.

Download the illlustration.

Also see our Free Offers and Downloads page.

High-Quality Illustration of the Heart’s Electrical System

The Heart's Electrical System Illustration

The Heart’s Electrical System: Click image to download

Update March 24: The Cleveland Clinic has given us permission to host this graphic on A-Fib.com for the viewing and printing by our readers.

Print and keep this illustration handy for the next time you talk with your doctor about the workings of your heart. You can make notes directly on the picture.

Download the PDF file and store on your hard-drive. To have one handy when you need it, print and store copies in your “A-Fib Binder or folder“.
A-Fib.com Library of videos and animations

Video: You may also want to watch the video, How Your Heart Works and Understanding Arrhythmias, or one of several heart animations from our A-Fib.com Video & Animations Library.

Also see our Free Offers and Downloads page.

“Holiday Heart”: Binging Alcohol, Marijuana & Rich Foods

‘Tis the season when many people end up in a hospital’s emergency room (ER) for treatment of “Holiday Heart Syndrome”, i.e. Atrial Fibrillation triggered by alcohol binging.

Overindulging in alcohol (six or more drinks) can cause surges in the body’s adrenalin, rises in the levels of free fatty acids, alterations of how sodium moves in and out of the heart cells, and a lowering of the levels of sodium, potassium, and magnesium in the body through diuresis.

Does Alcohol Alone Explain Holiday Heart Syndrome?

Recreational Marjuana and A-Fib at A-Fib.com

Trigger: recreational marijuana

Excessive alcohol is not the only culprit. Recreational use of marijuana can compound the risk as well. Other factors include the nicotine effect in smokers (active and passive), large quantiles of rich food, and even cold weather. In addition, fireplace fires and bonfires can release ultra-fine particles in the air from burnt materials and can be bad for the heart.

New Year’s Eve Party Time: Be Aware

As you celebrate, encourage others to avoid heavy alcohol consumption and try to minimize eating large quantities of food at one time. Look for the symptoms of “holiday heart” among your relatives (hereditary A-Fib) and friends. Anyone with any heart symptoms should go to the ER. If they’re lucky, it will be a one time event.

Share the Cheer of the Season

Finally, if you know someone who is depressed, alone, or isolated during the holiday season, reach out and cheer them up. It may be the best thing you do for their heart as well as yours.

Resources for this article
Castillo, R. Beware of the ‘holiday heart’ hazard. Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 27, 2016. http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/248983/beware-holiday-heart-hazard/

Bunch, TJ, Preventing Holiday Heart Syndrome. EverydayHealth.com. 11/26/2013. http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/jared-bunch-rhythm-of-life/preventing-holiday-heart-syndrome/

Laposata EA, Lange LG. Presence of nonoxidative ethanol metabolism in human organs commonly damaged by ethanol abuse. Science. Jan 31 1986; 231(4737):497-9.

Ettinger PO, Wu CF, De La Cruz C Jr, Weisse AB, Ahmed SS, Regan TJ.  Arrhythmias and the “Holiday Heart”: alcohol-associated cardiac rhythm disorders.  Am Heart J. 1978; 95(5):555-62

Infographic: September is Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month

Last updated: September 7, 2018

During September each year, we focus our efforts on reaching those who may have Atrial Fibrillation and don’t know it. We offer a our infographic to educate the public about this healthcare issue, along with a free promotional banner and poster.

Share it! Pin it or Download (click on link to view full size, then ‘Save As’ )

Download (600 x 1600-pix): PNG format or JPEG format. Also available: Promo banner and promo poster.

A-Fib.comA-FibFacts.info

About Atrial Fibrillation: An estimated 30%−50% of those affected with Atrial Fibrillation are unaware they have it—often only learning about their A-Fib during a routine medical exam. Of untreated patients, 35% will suffer a stroke. Half of all A-Fib-related strokes are major and disabling.

For more facts about Atrial Fibrillation, read or download the A-Fib Facts 5-page report.

Also available (click to enlarge, then Save As):

Promotional bannersept-is-a-fib-awareness-month-bannerPromotional poster:

sept-is-a-fib-month-orange-head-poster

 

 

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Friday, September 7, 2018

Back to: The Threat to Patients with “Silent A-Fib” How to Reach Them?

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