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


Understanding A-Fib

Video: EKG of Heart in Atrial Fibrillation on Monitor

Graphic display of actual heart in Atrial Fibrillation. How it could look to your doctor on an EKG/ECG monitor; (Your EKG may look different, but will be fast and erratic). Notice the changing heartbeat rate in the lower left. Compare to normal ECG below.

Share with you family and friends when you talk about your A-Fib. (:59 sec) Posted by jason king, Published on Aug 24, 2017.

Graphic: ECG of Heart in Normal Heart Rhythm and in Atrial Fibrillation

In the case of Atrial Fibrillation, the consistent P waves are replaced by fibrillatory waves, which vary in amplitude, shape, and timing (compare the two illustrations below).

How to Interpret an ECG Signal

EKG signal components at A-Fib.com

EKG signal components

An electrocardiogram, ECG (EKG), is a test used to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats, as well as the size and position of the chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart, and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart.

The ECG signal strip is a graphic tracing of the electrical activity of the heart. To learn more, see our article, Understanding the EKG Signal.

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Friday, September 8, 2017

Return to Instructional A-Fib Videos and Animations

VIDEOS: Endoscopic Views of a Beating Heart in Atrial Fibrillation

The Left Atrium in Atrial Fibrillation

Endoscopic video of a beating heart; shows the Left Atrium during Atrial Fibrillation. Looped footage with voice-over narration. (:32 sec.) Posted by BillSchnee

YouTube video playback controls: When watching this video, you have several playback options. The following controls are located in the lower right portion of the frame: Turn on closed captions, Settings (speed/quality), Watch on YouTube website, and Enlarge video to full frame. Click an icon to select.

Amputation of the Left Atrial Appendage

Endoscopic video of a beating heart; shows placement of the Left Atrial Appendage into the jaws of the stapling device before amputation and removal (using a EZ45 linear stapler). With voice-over narration, (1:34 min.) Posted by BillSchnee.

YouTube video playback controls: When watching this video, you have several playback options. The following controls are located in the lower right portion of the frame: Turn on closed captions, Settings (speed/quality), Watch on YouTube website, and Enlarge video to full frame. Click an icon to select.


If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Thursday, August 31, 2017

Return to Instructional A-Fib Videos and Animations

Your Heart’s Electrical System & How Clots Form: An Introduction 

Basic introduction to how the heart works. Identifies the parts of the heart and illustrates the role of each, and shows how clots form; Detail animation of the heart processes accompanied by narration. Transcript below. (3:50 min.)

Animation from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

TO PLAY VIDEO: Click the PLAY button (on the far left) to start video
(The controls inside the video frame don’t work.)\

Transcript for this article
Your heart’s electrical system controls all the events that occur when your heart pumps blood. The electrical system also is called the cardiac conduction system. If you’ve ever seen the heart test called an EKG (electrocardiogram), you’ve seen a graphical picture of the heart’s electrical activity.

Your heart’s electrical system is made up of three main parts:

The sinoatrial (SA) node, located in the right atrium of your heart The atrioventricular (AV) node, located on the interatrial septum close to the tricuspid valve The His-Purkinje system, located along the walls of your heart’s ventricles

A heartbeat is a complex series of events. These events take place inside and around your heart. A heartbeat is a single cycle in which your heart’s chambers relax and contract to pump blood. This cycle includes the opening and closing of the inlet and outlet valves of the right and left ventricles of your heart. Each heartbeat has two basic parts: diastole and systole.

During diastole, the atria and ventricles of your heart relax and begin to fill with blood. At the end of diastole, your heart’s atria contract (atrial systole) and pump blood into the ventricles. The atria then begin to relax.

Your heart’s ventricles then contract (ventricular systole), pumping blood out of your heart. Each beat of your heart is set in motion by an electrical signal from within your heart muscle. In a normal, healthy heart, each beat begins with a signal from the SA node. This is why the SA node sometimes is called your heart’s natural pacemaker.

Your pulse, or heart rate, is the number of signals the SA node produces per minute. The signal is generated as the vena cavae fill your heart’s right atrium with blood from other parts of your body. The signal spreads across the cells of your heart’s right and left atria. This signal causes the atria to contract. This action pushes blood through the open valves from the atria into both ventricles.

The signal arrives at the AV node near the ventricles.

It slows for an instant to allow your heart’s right and left ventricles to fill with blood. The signal is released and moves along a pathway called the bundle of His, which is located in the walls of your heart’s ventricles.

From the bundle of His, the signal fibers divide into left and right bundle branches through the Purkinje fibers. These fibers connect directly to the cells in the walls of your heart’s left and right ventricles (see yellow on the picture in the animation).

The signal spreads across the cells of your ventricle walls, and both ventricles contract. However, this doesn’t happen at exactly the same moment.

The left ventricle contracts an instant before the right ventricle. This pushes blood through the pulmonary valve (for the right ventricle) to your lungs, and through the aortic valve (for the left ventricle) to the rest of your body.

As the signal passes, the walls of the ventricles relax and await the next signal.

This process continues over and over as the atria refill with blood and more electrical signals come from the SA node.

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Return to Instructional A-Fib Videos and Animations

New FAQ about Asymptomatic Long-Standing Persistent A-Fib

We’ve posted a new FAQ and answer based on an email I received from a fellow with a very challenging case of Long-standing Persistent Atrial Fibrillation:

“I am 69 years old, in permanent A-Fib for 15 years, but non-symptomatic. My left atrium is over 55mm and several cardioversions have failed. My EP won’t even try a catheter ablation. I exercise regularly and have met some self-imposed extreme goals. What more can I do?

My answer: As you may know, being in permanent (long-standing persistent) Atrial Fibrillation can cause other long term problems like fibrosis, increased risks of heart failure and dementia. So you are wise to be concerned.

I’m not surprised your electrophysiologist (EP) is reluctant about performing a catheter ablation. Being asymptomatic with 15 years of long-standing persistent A-Fib and a Left Atrium diameter of 55mm, most EPs wouldn’t recommend or perform a catheter ablation on you.

Tikosyn: generic name dofetilide at A-Fib.com

Tikosyn: (dofetilide)

Drug Therapy Option: Tikosyn

Have you tried the newer antiarrhythmic drug Tikosyn (generic name dofetilide)?

Tikosyn was designed for cases like yours. It’s a Class 1A drug that works by blocking the activity of certain electrical signals in the heart that can cause an irregular heartbeat. Read more of my answer…

Infographic: My Best A-Fib Reference Books for Patients and Their Families

On a regular basis, we search the web for the best informational reading for Atrial Fibrillation patients and their families. We recommend only up-to-date, unbiased resources. To read my description of each book, see my ‘Wish List’ on Amazon.com. (Note: Use our Amazon portal link to order your books and your purchases help support A-Fib.com.)

 

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?

InfoGFX: How Atrial Fibrillation Damages Your Heart, Brain and Other Organs

by Steve S. Ryan, PhD

It’s a bad idea to just live with your Atrial Fibrillation. A-Fib is a progressive disease. It reduces the amount of blood flowing to the rest of your body by about 15%–30% with damaging effects. At the same time, your heart is working progressively harder and harder.
A-Fib is progressive disease - Infographic Aug 2016

A-Fib is definitely curable. (I was cured of my A-Fib in 1998). If you have A-Fib, no matter how long you’ve had it, you should aim for a complete and permanent cure.

If your doctor is satisfied with just keeping your A-Fib “under control,” I recommend you get a second opinion.

Refer to our Finding the Right Doctor page and related readings. We step you through all you need to know to find the right doctor for you and your treatment goals.

#AtrialFibrillation #afib #Arrhythmia #AtrialTachycardia #Tachycardia

New FAQ Answered: Which Procedure Has the Best Success Rate?

We’ve answered a new FAQ under the category: Understanding Atrial Fibrillation. Thanks to Thomas Scheben for this question:

I have paroxysmal A-Fib and would like to know your opinion on which procedure has the best cure rate.

The best cure rate isn’t the only criteria you should consider when seeking your Atrial Fibrillation cure. Let me first review your top three procedure options: cardioversion, catheter ablation, and surgical Maze/Mini-Maze. 

Atrial Fibrillation is not a one-size fits all type of disease.

Electrocardioversion: When first diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, doctors often recommend an Electrocardioversion to get you back into normal sinus rhythm. But for most patients, their A-Fib returns within a week to a month. (However, you might be lucky like the A-Fib patient who wrote us that he was A-Fib free for 7 years after a successful cardioversion.)

Catheter Ablations: Radio-frequency and CryoBalloon catheter ablations have similar success rates 70%-85% for the first ablation, around 90% is you need a second ablation.

How to achieve these high success rates? It’s crucial you choose the right electrophysiologist (EP)…Continue to read my full answer.

Blizzard of 2016 Increases Risk of A-Fib Stroke

We’ve all heard of someone dropping dead from a heart attack while shoveling snow. But along with record snowfall and subfreezing temperatures comes a warning for those with Atrial Fibrillation. Winter increases stroke risk in people with A-Fib.

Winter and increased risk of stoke at A-Fib.com

Winter: increased stroke risk

Do You Live in a Cold Climate?

In a study from Taiwan, nearly 300,000 people with new-onset A-Fib were followed for eleven years. Almost 35,000 suffered an ischemic (A-Fib) stroke.

The risk for an ischemic stroke was nearly 20% higher in winter than in summer.

“When the average temperature was below 68⁰ F (20⁰C), the risk of ischemic stroke significantly increased compared to days with an average temperature of 86⁰F (30⁰C).”

Why More Ischemic Strokes During Winter?

Cold weather may make blood more prone to coagulate.

Cooler temperatures may produce greater plasm fibrinogen levels and factor VII clotting activity and may lead to “increased coagulability and plasma viscosity,” according to the author of this study, Dr. Tze-Fan Chao. 

Ischemic stroke was nearly 20% higher in winter than in summer.

What Patients Need To Know

The cold temperatures can put you more at risk for an A-Fib (Ischemic) stroke. So act accordingly. Bundle up during winter. Keep the thermostat set to keep you warm enough.
If you’re on a blood thinner, discuss this research with your doctor. You need to keep your anticoagulant levels up during winter.
References for this article
Chao, Tze-Fan. Cold weather linked to increased stroke risk in atrial fibrillation patients. European Society of Cardiology Congress News Release, August 26, 2015 17:21. http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=155774&CultureCode=en

My 2015 Top Five List: Advancements in the Treatment of A-Fib

Looking back over 2015, I found five significant developments for those ‘living’ with A-Fib and those seeking their ‘cure’. My ‘Top Five List’ focuses on the Watchman device, a Pradaxa antidote and research findings about lifestyle choices, and reducing fibrosis.

1. FDA Approves the Watchman Device

The Watchman occlusion device

The Watchman is positioned via catheter

Anticoagulant Alternative: Because A-Fib patients are at high risk of stroke and clots, a blood thinner (anticoagulant) like warfarin is often prescribed. If you can’t or don’t want to be on blood thinners, you had few options.

That was until March 2015 when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Watchman device. There’s now an option to blood thinners! The Watchman device (Boston Scientific) is inserted to close off the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA), the origin of 90%-95% of A-Fib clots.

To read my complete Top Five List…go to My 2015 Top Five List: A Review of Advancements in the Treatment of A-Fib->.

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