Doctors & patients are saying about ''...

" 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

Product Reviews

Carrying Your Medical ID: A Free Wallet Card or Wearable Technology

Print free wallet card from

Last updated: September 1, 2020. When you have A-Fib and you’re taking a blood thinner or other medications, you may want to carry your medical information. There are many ways to carry your info these days, on a printed card, or  with an array of accessories with USB storage, etc.

Print Your Free Online Medical ID Wallet Card

To help you make your medical ID, we have three Free online sources for printing your own wallet cards (updated 1-14-18).

Wallet size medicine ID Card (online form) from CVS Pharmacy
• Printable Emergency Medical ID Card (in PDF format) from
• Emergency Contact Card (in PDF format) from American Red Cross

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

A Few Tips

• Laminate your wallet card to prolong its use (an office supply store can help you).
• Why not print a card for each member of your family?
• If you also wear a medic alert bracelet, inscribe it with the message “See wallet card”.

Additional Ways to Carry Your Emergency Medical Alert ID Information

Wearable technology: There are many new styles of Medic Alert IDs bracelets (latex-free) and necklace pendants both with pre-loaded software and made with different materials like waterproof foam, leather and stainless steel.

Care USB Medical History Bracelet – latex free

USB key from Stat Alert

USB key from Stat Alert

USB credit card-size by ER Card

Credit card-size USB by ER Card

Money clip from Universal Medical Data

Money clip from Universal Medical Data

You can also carry your emergency medical ID information on USB-equipped personal devices like a key chain fob and credit-card size data wallet card (above).

Paper-based? Don’t carry a wallet? Consider a Money clip with a compartment to slide in your emergency contact info (right).

Or, if you carry a paper-based day planner or calendar, add the same information to your address book.

What Emergency Medical Info Should You Carry?

For much more information about what and how to carry your emergency medical information, see our article, Your Portable Medical Information Kit.

Book Review: The Empowered Patient: How to Get the Best Medical Care Every Time

the-empowered-patient-cover-400-x-600-pix-at-300-resThe Empowered Patient: How to Get the Right Diagnosis, Buy the Cheapest Drugs, Beat Your Insurance Company, and Get the Best Medical Care Every Time

by Elizabeth Cohen

Review by Steve S. Ryan, PhD

For many, today’s healthcare system is overwhelming and confusing. Gone are the days of the paternal family doctor who managed your overall medical care. Today, you must step up and take responsibility for managing your own health care.

This Review: Important Material all Patients Should Consider

‘The Empowered Patient’, written by a CNN Senior medical Correspondent, is a short, easily read book. Chapters are organized in categories with common problems and practical solutions.

This review discusses important material for all patients to consider. If you read the softcover book, I recommend having a highlight marker and some post-it tabs handy for marking particular passages of personal interest for follow-up and future reference.

Trust No One Completely

When it comes to medicine, trust no one completely. Each year, 99,000 patients die from infections they acquire in hospitals, and another 98,000 die from medical mistakes in hospitals. … Continue reading this report…->

Book Review: How Hope, Belief and Expectations Can Alter the Course of Your Illness

The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness, by Jerome E. Groopman

Review by Patti J. Ryan, based on my customer review on

There’s more to hope than we thought. Hope triggers biochemical changes.

On, hope and encouragement are important ingredients in becoming your own best patient advocate and seeking your A-Fib cure.

We know hope impacts one’s emotions. But it also affects our physical being. I bought and read this book to learn about the BIOLOGY of hope. Written by an oncologist and citing actual patient cases (mostly cancer), Dr. Groopman explores the role of hope in fighting disease and healing.

Bolster All Your Energies to Find Your A-Fib Cure

The latter part of The Anatomy of Hope interested me the most. It documents the positive physiological responses evoked by hope. Top scientists are interviewed who study the biological link between emotion and biological responses. The most relevant studies on the subject are reviewed (I’ve highlighted and marked these with sticky notes). We learn that there’s more to hope than we thought. Hope triggers biochemical changes. Biochemical changes can fight disease.

 Hope triggers biochemical changes. Biochemical changes can fight disease.

Dr Groopman shows how hope, belief and expectations can alter the course of our lives, and even of our physical body. Good news for any patient dealing with a serious health condition, including Atrial Fibrillation patients!

I recommend The Anatomy of Hope to help you bolster all your energies to find your A-Fib cure.

Our Positive Thought/Prayer Group: Support is Just an Email Away

Patients offer support -

Patients offer support

At one of our volunteer groups is a Positive Thought/Prayer group comprised of wonderful people worldwide. If you would like their support, especially at the time of your ablation or surgery, please email us your request. It’s comforting to know that others who’ve had A-Fib care about you and wish you well.

How to Send Your Request: Send your request to our coordinator, Barbara at: babareeba(at) (substitute an “@” for the “(at)”).

Join our Group: We invite you to learn more about our ‘A-Fib Positive Thought/Prayer’ group. All are welcome.

Updated Report: Guide to DIY Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs) & Handheld ECG Monitors

One of our most visited pages on is our report: Guide to DIY Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs) & Handheld ECG Monitors. Patti and I just completed an update, adding new content and revising others. The report is a starting point for those making a purchase. (There are many good products, so we pared down the list for you.)

Not to be Confused with Optical Fitness Wristbands

The HRM sensors/monitors in this article work by being in contact with the skin. Don’t confuse these with fitness bands like Fitbit that use an optical sensor to shine a light on your skin illuminating your capillaries to measure your pulse.

Our Recommendations of Heart Rate Monitors (HRM)

In the first part, we have updated our recommendations of Heart Rate Monitors (HRM):

Wrist watch monitors with chest sensor bands
Bluetooth app-enabeled sensors for smartphones
Wearable technology with wireless sensors.

Consumer, DIY or ‘Sport’ Heart Rate Monitors (HRM) are designed for runners and other recreational athletes but can be useful to A-Fib patients who want to monitor their heart rate and pulse when exercising or when performing physically demanding activities (i.e., mowing the lawn, climbing stairs, loading and unloading equipment, etc.).

Affordable Handheld Real-Time ECG monitors

The second part is about the emerging new category of affordable Handheld Real-time ECG monitors that let you capture and share your ECGs. We’ve update the reviews for the following and added one new monitor:

Kardia Heart Monitor by AliveCor
The HeartCheck™ PEN handheld ECG device from CardioComm Solutions
PC-80B ECG Monitor (Heal Force or Creative Easy)
BodiMetrics Performance Monitor NEW REVIEW
Handheld ECG Monitor CMS-80A (FaceLake or Contec Medical Systems)

Continue reading…go to our updated report: Guide to DIY Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs) & Handheld ECG Monitors.

Updated Article on Sleep Apnea Home Testing

Philips Respironics "Alice NightOne Sleep Apnea in-home test at

Philips’ Alice NightOne

We’ve updated our article: Sleep Apnea: Home Testing with WatchPAT Device and the Philips Respironics.

There are several FDA-approved sleep study devices you can use in the comfort of your own bedroom to determine if you have sleep apnea. And it’s convenient (especially if being away from home overnight is problematic).

Everyone with A-Fib should be tested for sleep apnea. It’s now available at a fraction of the cost of an in-lab sleep study ($250-$300 vs. $1100-$2,000).

We’ve added the Philips Alice™ NightOne home test. Continue to the updated article…


Book Review: Bad Pharma—How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors & Harm Patients

Bad Pharma by Ben GoldacreThe author of Bad Pharma does an excellent job of shining a light on the truths that the drug industry wants to stay hidden.

Those truths include how they mislead doctors and the medical industry through sales techniques, and manipulate consumers into becoming life-long drug customers. (For doctors, that industry influence begins in medical school and continues throughout their practice.)

We also learn truths about the internal workings of the medical academia, the U.S. FDA, and medical journals publishing.

The arguments in the book are supported by research and data made available to the reader. The author, Ben Goldacre, is a doctor and science journalist, and advocates for sticking to the scientific method, full disclosure and advocating for the interest of the patients. Here are a few highlights from Bad Pharma.

Manipulating Clinical Drug Trials

As consumers, how do we really know which drugs are best? The U.S. FDA protects us, right? Well sort of. Read how trials for drugs and their perceived usefulness can be manipulated, poor trials go unpublished or outright suppressed, and underperforming trials are stopped early or the trial period extended.

One way to manipulate clinical trials starts at the beginning―the design of the trial. Often, few comparison studies are done. Far more common are new drug studies going against placebo pills (that everyone knows don’t work). This helps inflate findings, makes new drugs look more effective than older drugs―because they were never compared against each other.

Bad Pharma & the Cost of Doing Business

Learn how pharmaceutical companies legitimately funnel $10 million to $20 million a year to major medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association. So, are we surprised then that studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry are much more likely to get published by these influential journals?

Direct to Consumer Drug Advertising

Did you know drug companies spend twice as much on marketing and advertising as on researching and developing new drugs? (I was shocked.)

To learn how medication advertisements on TV can be misleading to consumers, see my review of “Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics” by Steven Woloshin.

Of special interest to me is the ‘Direct to Consumer’ drug advertising which has significantly increased drug sales in the U.S. ‘Direct to Consumer’ drug advertising is so misleading that it is banned in all countries except two: the U.S. and New Zealand. (No wonder that 70% of drug companies’ profit comes from the U.S.)

To be specific, I hate those misleading TV commercials that target A-Fib patients. What these ads for anticoagulants don’t tell you is:

• You are on their meds for life! (they want lifelong customers!)
• These meds do nothing to treat your A-Fib (only your risk of stroke)
• A-Fib can be cured (you don’t have to be on meds for the rest of your life)

These ads for anticoagulant medications imply if you just take their pill once a day, you’ve taken care of your A-Fib. Wrong!

Well Written, Easy to Understand

Bad Pharma, is written in an easy-to-understand manner (you don’t need a medical or science degree). If you wish, you can skim through the book to get an overview, then stop and read a topic of interest. Or you can dig in for a full read, including the authors’s research and other references (documented in footnotes with citations.)

Check on Your Doctor

After reading how big Pharma may be influencing your doctor, you can now find out. In the U.S., with the passing of the Sunshine Act (part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), we can now research if a doctor has received pharma money to prescribe their products. Just go to the Open Payments or Dollars for Doctors website.

One of our tenets at, is ‘Educate Yourself’! If you want to be a more savvy consumer of health care services, I highly recommend Bad Pharma. I also recommend Ben Goldacre’s other book, Bad Science.

Bonus Idea: If you pair this book with “Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics” by Steven Woloshin, you’ll have a complete course on how the drug industry skillfully markets their products.


Book Review: Know Your Chances―Understanding Health Statistics

Available online for FREE

How to See Through the Hype in Medical News, Ads, and Public Service Announcements

By Steven Woloshin M.D.M.S.

Review by Patti J. Ryan
Last updated: October 10, 2018

Every day we are bombarded by television ads, public service announcements, and media reports warning of dire risks to our health and offering solutions. But many of these messages are incomplete, misleading, or exaggerated, leaving the average person misinformed and confused. They use fear to make us feel vulnerable.

Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics is for those who look for the footnotes when reading about healthcare claims, who question the facts behind today’s bombardment of health risk messages.

Discover why some studies should be viewed with suspicion, learn to interpret the numbers behind the messages, find the credible information—if any, and what questions patients need to ask before choosing a treatment.

Diagram, p 113

Diagram, p 113

Know Your Chances is written in a simple, straightforward style and can be easily understood by readers without a medical degree.

It’s a fast read. The core content of the 158 page book is only 113 pages. Includes quizzes, a glossary, summaries and other resources. Take the mystery out of medical statistics and become a better consumer of health messages.

Buy or Read for FREE

Take the mystery out of medical statistics and become a better consumer of health messages.
This softcover book is available through retail and online booksellers including

Read for FREE: the ebook version is online at U.S. National Library of Medicine or download the .PDF version (and save to your hard drive).

AliveCor Kardia Update: Review by Travis Van Slooten

By Travis Van Slooten, October 2016

Travis Von Slooten at

Travis V. S.

This is an update to our February 2015 review. We welcome guest blogger, Travis Van Slooten, publisher of An active user of the AliveCor Kardia, he is sharing his review and opinions.

As someone that battled a-fib for 8½ years prior to having a successful ablation, the Kardia Mobile heart monitor by AliveCor really helped me and gave me peace of mind.

The Kardia monitor is a FDA-approved device that works with your smartphone and allows you to take an ECG recording of your heart from the comfort of your home, office, or anywhere.


Size comparison Kardia vs. credit card

The Kardia consists of two parts. There is the device itself, a small, wireless component that attaches or sits in close proximity to a cell phone or tablet. It syncs to the second component, a smartphone app.

It’s very straight forward to use the device. After you download the app to your smartphone, open and click on “Record Now”; then press your fingers to the device.


Kardia app Record screen

As soon as you click on the green “Record Now” button, with your fingers on the device, the app displays an ECG reading of your heart in real-time and records it.

The default setting is 30 seconds, but you can record up to 5 minutes if you want.

I recommend the one-minute recording, because 30 seconds is too short and anything over one minute is longer than necessary to get the data you need.

Three classifications. When completed, AliveCor’s built-in filter will tell you immediately if you are potentially in afib or not. The three classifications you’ll potentially get are:

• Possible Afib
• Normal
• Unclassified

VIDEO:  AliveCor Kardia Review by Actualidad iPad

Best footage I could find of the Kardia app screen. Shows actual capturing of the ECG signal with an inset image showing the users hand positions on the Kardia device. He repeats and adjusts his hands and you see the results on the screen. Watch 1st 3:00 min. Followed by report screen, emailing, etc. In Spanish (can mute audio).

Legally, AliveCor’s filter can’t say you are definitely in afib; so if you’re in afib, it will say, “Possible Afib.” If you get this message, you’ll want to share the ECG with your doctor, which you can easily do within the app. You can also send the ECG to AliveCor’s ECG analysis service from within the app for a fee to get an interpretation.

The “normal” classification is self-explanatory. If your heart is in normal sinus rhythm (NSR), you’ll get this message. This is the classification you hope to see!

The “unclassified” classification is a bit trickier. This means one of two things. You’re either having an arrhythmia other than afib such as PVCs, PACs, tachycardia, bradycardia, etc., or the device wasn’t held properly so an accurate recording wasn’t taken.

If you get the unclassified message, there are a couple things you can do. You can try another recording to see if you get the same message, or you can send the ECG to your doctor or AliveCor’s ECG analysis service for interpretation. Usually when I get this message, I find out I’m having PVCs and PACs.

Why Should Every Person with Afib Own This Device?

Three ways to hold the Kardia: Top: attached to the back of your smartphone; Center: grasping with finger tips; Bottom: pressing on a flat surface;

Let me explain how it helped me.

When I would go into afib, I knew I was in afib! I was highly symptomatic. However, I always turned to my Kardia Mobile monitor to confirm I was indeed in afib before I would take my medication. I was taking Flecainide at the time as a pill-in-the-pocket approach to treating my atrial fibrillation. This is a very powerful antiarrhythmic drug, especially at the doses I was taking (300mg), so I didn’t want to take it unless I was absolutely sure I was in afib.

I would then use the AliveCor monitor afterwards to confirm I was back in NSR. For me, it would usually take 4-6 hours before the Flecainide would work. It was great to have the monitor to confirm when the episode was over. I would share this information with my doctor, which helped him to determine if our treatment approach was working.

Since my successful ablation back in March 2015, I haven’t had a need to use the Kardia monitor for afib specifically, but now I use it in my battle with PVCs and PACs.

Sometimes these get so intense that I feel like I’m having a minor afib episode (if there is such a thing as a minor afib episode). I use the monitor extensively to confirm I’m having just PVCs and PACs and not afib. I also use the data to keep a historical record of the number of PVCs and PACs I’m having.

As I’m sure you can see by now, this little device can provide a lot of useful information for you and your doctor.

The Drawbacks of the Kardia Mobile Monitor

I’m a big advocate of this device, but it isn’t perfect. My primary complaints about the device are that it can be very touchy at times and can provide inaccurate or misleading classifications.

Must hold the monitor “just right”. The Kardia monitor requires that you stay perfectly still to get the cleanest and most accurate ECG reading. If you move around or if you move your fingers, or if you hold the device too hard or too soft, you can get a “dirty” ECG reading or an inaccurate classification. This can be annoying as it can sometimes take 2-3 attempts to get a good reading.

Misleading classifications can be common as well. There have been many times when the app shows “Possible Afib” when I’m just having PVCs and PACs. And when I’m having PVCs and PACs, it will almost always say “Unclassified.” It would be nice if it said PVCs and/or PACs instead of leaving me in the dark with an “Unclassified” message or indicating I might be in afib.

ECG analysis service fees adds up. My other minor complaints are that the ECG analysis service is expensive, and there is no ambulatory (continuous) monitoring. Through the app, you’ll pay $9 for a technician only analysis or $19 for a cardiologist analysis and recommendation. If you’re having a lot of your ECG recordings analyzed, this can add up quickly!

Can’t monitor your heart while walking or sleeping. Given the nature of the device – having to hold it perfectly still when you want to take a recording – there is no ambulatory monitoring available. For example, you can’t monitor your heart while walking or exercising. You can’t monitor your heart while sleeping. It would be great if future versions include some kind of wearable tech to allow continuous monitoring for these situations.

Bottom Line: Still the Best Consumer Heart Monitor. Despite these drawbacks, the Kardia device is still the best available monitor of its kind in the consumer market, in my opinion. If any of these drawbacks were improved upon, it would just make the monitor that much better!

What the Future Holds for the Kardia Monitor

Omron BPM - wireless -

Wireless Omron BPM

Just recently, AliveCor partnered with Omron. You can buy a Bluetooth-enabled Omron blood pressure monitor and store that information in the Kardia Mobile app. This will give you additional useful data of your heart health that you can use and share with your doctor.

Kardia band for Apple Watch

Kardia band for Apple Watch

There is also the Kardia Band that AliveCor is waiting for the approval of by the FDA. This is a band for the Apple watch. Instead of carrying the device in your pocket or attaching it to your phone like you have to now, you’ll be able to wear this band with your Apple watch and just place your thumb on it to take a recording. How convenient that will be!

Wrap Up

If you have atrial fibrillation and you don’t own this device, I highly recommend you get one. It’s another tool in your “afib toolbox” that can help you manage your condition and give you peace of mind.



We are grateful to Travis for sharing his first-hand experience and opinions. Visit his blog for a more extensive review of the AliveCor Kardia.

Travis Van Slooten is a blogger, internet marketer and atrial fibrillation patient who has been passionate about providing knowledge, inspiration, and support to fellow afibbers ever since his diagnosis in 2006. You can follow him on his blog or his afib Facebook page.

Can a Broken Heart Lead to Atrial Fibrillation? Yes!

by Patti J. Ryan, October 2016

Called ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’, a new study finds that the death of a partner is linked to a heightened risk of developing atrial fibrillation. The risk seems to be greatest among the under 60s and when the loss of the partner was least expected.

Risk of A-Fib with loss of partner

Risk of A-Fib with loss of partner

The researchers looked at a national registry in Denmark of 88,612 people who were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and 886,120 healthy people matched for age and sex, and between 1995 and 2014. Other factors that might influence atrial fibrillation risk were included as well.

They found that people who had lost a partner were 41% more likely to develop atrial fibrillation in the first month after losing their partner. The risk seemed to be greatest 8 to 14 days following a death and gradually subsided during the following year.

More Evidence of Mind-Heart Link

Experts suspect acute stress may directly disrupt normal heart rhythms and prompt the production of chemicals involved in inflammation.

This study adds evidence to the growing knowledge that the mind-heart link is a powerful association.

What can be done about this risk? The answer requires more research but may focus on the way the body deals with stress.

Recommended Reading: The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness, by Jerome E. Groopman.

Written by an oncologist and citing actual patient cases (mostly cancer), Dr. Groopman explores the role of hope in fighting disease and healing. Top scientists are interviewed who study the biological link between emotion and biological responses; the most relevant studies are reviewed.

NPR Interiew with Dr. Jerome E. Groopman.

NPR Interiew

The author shows how hope, belief and expectations can alter the course of our lives, and even of our physical body. HOPE works! (For more read my review on

Dr. Groopman Interview: Listen to an audio interview with The Anatomy of Hope author, Dr. Groopman on NPR’s Fresh Air program (recorded Sept. 2004; 20 min.)

Resources for this article
Graff, S., et al. Long-term risk of atrial fibrillation after the death of a partner. Open Heart, 2016; 3 (1): e000367 DOI: 10.1136/openhrt-2015-000367

Sifferlin, A. How Getting Your Heart Broken Hurts Your Physical Heart., April 8, 2016.

Risk greatest among under 60s and when loss least expected. ScienceDaily. Date: April 5, 2016.

Are You Using the AliveCor Kardia or BodiMetrics Heart Monitors?

Are you using the latest AliveCor ‘Kardia™ Mobile’ heart monitor? The current model (Model 1141) has been out since February. I want to update our February 2015 review.AliveCor ECG smartphone at

The AliveCor Kardia attaches to an android or Apple device. And by pressing the sensors with your fingers (or thumbs), it capture single-lead, medical-grade EKGs in just 30-seconds. Instantly it shows if your heart rhythm is normal or if atrial fibrillation is detected.

How is the AliveCor Kardia Working for You?

If you are using the AliveCor Kardia, how do you typically use it? Regularly? Or only when you think you’re in A-Fib?

Do you take readings just for your own peace of mind or do you transfer the data to your doctor? Are you satisfied with its performance? Do you recommend the Alivecor Kardia or other brand monitor to others with A-Fib?

Share Your Insights

Do you have first-hand experience? I’m asking any readers using the latest AliveCor Kardia model to share your product experiences with me. Just send me an Email with your impressions.



Other Heart Monitors:  I’m also interested if you are using another brand of handheld heart monitor, such as the BodiMetrics Performance Monitor.

While the BodiMetrics unit is much more than just a heart monitor, I’d love to hear if you are using it to help monitor your A-Fib. Send me an email, won’t you?

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