Author Archives: Rosalie Ungar

About Rosalie Ungar

original email address: rosalie@rosalieungar.com

Is Atrial Fibrillation Genetic?

This blog “Is Atrial Fibrillation Genetic?” was written by me July 3, 2017. More has happened since then, almost a year and a half ago. Even the protocol for my participation in the genetic study has changed. I will write more about it in the weeks to come but must first check with genetic scientists doing the study as to what is finally accurate, not that it is final, but current at this time. Very recently (last week) I listened to dialogue reporting that there may be a connection between atrial fib and some forms of dementia. Read this and watch for more. Meanwhile check out my memoir, IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


I asked my doctor if atrial fib has any connections to other heart problems or is it genetic.

He and several other electrophysiologists and cardiologists that were giving a tour of a new hospital said that as far as they knew, it wasn’t but that genetic studies were taking place. That was almost 10 years ago.

It’s a different story now. Doctors have discovered that not only are all heart problems related but that there is definitely a genetic link. Some hospitals are studying that as we speak. They have been doing genetic studies for heart and heart related problems on families all over the world.

Now they are planning a study on 2 or 3 generations of my family. Several of my family met with doctors who are engineering this study. Those family members who agreed to participate will receive a DNA packet including a mouth wash and container where they can insert their saliva…in other words, “spit” into it. They will send it back to heart genetics researchers for study. DNA studies will lead us to many cures for everything.  An interesting fact that I recently learned from a scientist working in this field is that there are more than 3 billion base pairs (referred to as double-stranded DNA) in our bodies where DNA can be tested.

Now those doctors are discovering that not only are heart problems related, but that diabetes and diverticulitis are also connected as is age, a topic I can testify to on an almost daily basis. This past winter I was diagnosed with diverticulitis. With attitude, diet and consciousness of what I put into my body and when, diverticulitis, so far, can be somewhat controlled.

No time to feel sorry for one’s self. I call these stumbling blocks to aging, “evidence of living”.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon and Audible.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes

Fight Afib with Knowledge

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This blog was first published on June 10, 2017.


It is estimated that more than 6 million adults in the United States suffer from atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib, atrial fib or AF. Its prevalence is projected to increase to 13 million by 2030. Brought to my attention recently is the startling information that Google receives on average, 130,000 AFib searches each month.

I am not a doctor, a drug manufacturer or an organization collecting funds. I’m a patient who suffered with AFib for 35 years and I’ve written a book about it. IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups and Downs of Life with Atrial Fib is my story. It is not a medical book but has been reviewed and recommended by several doctors relating to their specialties treating AFib and other heart arrthymias.

I haven’t had an episode of atrial fibrillation since 2008. However, when I had AFib, I had other related and unrelated heart and health problems at the same time. None of them are cured, but they have become manageable through medication, surgical procedures and ongoing visits with electrophysiologists, cardiologists, endocrinologists and pharmacologists. Diet along with exercise were and are my primary regimen for feeling healthy.

After years of battling AFib and other chronic health issues, I have learned that to know your body and what you put into it is key. Be truthful with your doctors. Ask questions, especially if there’s something you don’t understand. Learn about the medications you are prescribed and why you are taking them. How will they interact with other meds, food and life style? A friend once told me that she was tired of taking pills, so she decided to take Sundays off and not take any pills on that day. When asking others what medications they take, I’ve heard replies that they didn’t know. The doctor told them to take them, so they do.

Besides 35 years of atrial fib, I’ve had 2 heart attacks, a robotic heart bypass and recently had a 3rd pacemaker implanted.  My doctors at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Ross Heart Hospital say that I have reversed any and all heart damage incurred from past heart attacks. This, I am told, is highly unusual. We credit exercise and personal trainers.

On my 75th birthday my personal trainer had me do 75 push-ups, 75 squats, 75 crunches with treadmill and spinning bike in between. Before celebrating my 80th birthday I did 100 pushes and the rest of a morning workout.

For me, this story is happy and meant to be inspiring. I feel better than I have in over 20 years. I know my limitations and work around them, learning to pay attention to my body, grateful for each day that I do.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


In a Heartbeat by Rosalie Ungar

A-Fib & Exercise – Part 2

Besides the heart attacks, pacemaker implants, and increasing bouts of atrial fib, I had full hip replacements on both hips. An attack of pancreatitis made gall bladder surgery necessary. Chronic thyroid problems flared up from time to time and cataracts in both eyes required cataract removal.

Medications including the blood thinner warfarin became more complicated and compatibility of the meds with each other needed my attention. Drug co-pays increased. Some drugs had to be taken before bed or first thing in the morning on an empty stomach 45 minutes before anything else, or 30 minutes before lying down, 2 hours after certain other drugs, never with pain killers or antacids or magnesium in any form. Heart meds are especially sensitive. My solutions? I have plastic oblong containers separated by initialed days of the week and by morning pills and evening pills. I put 3 weeks of meds together at one time. It takes about 45 minutes to do that, but besides scheduling and not forgetting any or wondering if I took something or not, it warns me when to reorder so as not to run out of anything especially on a holiday or if ordering by mail.

I discovered that I could not exercise on my own even if I joined a fitness center. I needed a physical trainer for several reasons:

  • I didn’t know what exercises to do.
  • If I had a trainer, I knew that I would show up for the session.
  • I knew that working with weights and equipment could be dangerous and a trainer prevents my getting hurt.
  • A PT isn’t expensive. Often less than many meds and prescriptions co-pays. Certainly less than a heart attack.

In the 15 years I’ve worked with trainers, John was the first for 6 years, then Paul for 6 years and Jim (current trainer) for 3 years. When I started out, I couldn’t do 1 push-up. Now I can do 100. I work out with 6 to 10 others, both men and women. I am, by far, the oldest. We do circuits working in small groups of 2 or 3, training 3 days per week for 45 minutes to an hour. The most difficult time of the workout is 15 minutes before it starts. That’s the time when one might cancel…too tired, too cold out, too hot, too lazy. Get over it.

Four years ago at yearly checkups with my electrophysiologist and my cardiologist, they each congratulated me for reversing all heart damage from both of my heart attacks. I was told that this is rare. The consensus of medical opinions was that it was a result of exercise, the best medication.

Learn more in my new memoir: IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Soon available as audio book.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes

 

RosalieUngar.com

In a Heartbeat by Rosalie Ungar

A-Fib & Exercise

After 2 heart attacks, 3 pacemakers, 4 husbands and 35 years of atrial fibrillation, I realized that the best medication is exercise.

Move the body! I grew up in the forties and fifties when playing outdoors was as important as eating and was more important than homework. Even in winter we played outdoors…sports and recess in school, sledding and snowball fights, even shoveling snow. In summer we played out of doors with our friends and explored everything, sometimes we played outside all day and into evening when our parents yelled at the kitchen door that it was time to come in for dinner. We were exhausted at night and slept well.

On rainy days we put on shows in the empty garage where our one car was kept and Dad had it at work. Or we played paper dolls in the house or on the porch. On hot summer days a parent would drop us off at the public swimming pool and we would stay in the water all afternoon between scheduled rest periods.

It was natural to walk and run wherever we were going, even to the bus stop. Sometimes we rode our bikes. That was until I had a car at age 16.

I started exercise walking in my forties getting up to 4 miles almost every day. It took an hour. I loved it…walking outside or on a treadmill. My HDL was over 50… a decent number for the high density lipoproteins. In 1980 I was diagnosed with atrial fib. That’s when I noticed it though it probably occurred sporadically for years before I felt it. I still walked on days it didn’t give me shortness of breath or tire me out.

In 2000 I had 2 heart attacks. The left anterior descending coronary artery was 50% blocked. The nickname for that artery is “the widow maker.” A few weeks later I had a robotic bypass. A year after that I married Ed. Two years after that I retired from my job. Exercise walking had given me lower body strength, but my upper body was weak.

READ NEXT WEEK’S BLOG TO FIND OUT HOW I REVERSED ALL DAMAGE FROM 2 HEART ATTACKS, ENDED ATRIAL FIB, AND NOW AT ALMOST 80 YEARS OLD I CAN DO 100 PUSH UPS, PLANKS, WEIGHTS, SPINNING BIKE AND MUCH MORE.  

Read more in my recent memoir: IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Soon available as audio book.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes

 

RosalieUngar.com

In a Heartbeat by Rosalie Ungar

Atrial fibrillation patients, strokes may not be life threatening…in the future

A front page article in The Columbus Dispatch newspaper on Memorial Day 2017 carries startling information: Clinical trials are underway in Columbus, Ohio, to possibly remove blood clots in patients whose stroke symptoms started as many as 24 hours before. Trial participants see overwhelming positive results that could lead to changes and save hundreds of thousands of lives all over the world.

Immediately I put myself into such a situation as I recalled a conversation with my electrophysiologist almost 5 years ago. It was in his office during my annual checkup 6 years after my ablation to eliminate 30 years of atrial fib and 5 electrical pathways that needed to be ablated. I stayed on warfarin for a year-and-a-half after the ablation at which point my electrophysiologist reluctantly eliminated it from my list of medications. I had been on that blood thinner for 12 years and atrial fib free for almost 5 years.

When I turned 75 years of age and was feeling terrific, better than I’d felt in 20 years, I related this info to my doctor and told him I was writing a book about my 35 years of life with atrial fib. Sheepishly he said he wanted to put me back on a blood thinner. I looked at him through squinting eyes. “Why?” I asked. “I don’t want to take a blood thinner,” I said.

He told me that there is a point system for A-Fib patients and that 4 points is the median. Because I am over 75 gives me 2 points and being a woman is 1 point.

“That’s only 3 points. I don’t want to take a blood thinner even if it isn’t warfarin. I haven’t had atrial fib for 6 years, I eat a heart healthy diet, I exercise, my cholesterol numbers are good and even though there are more choices for blood thinners, I don’t want it.”

He told me that I am still a candidate for a stroke.

I asked him, “What are the symptoms of a stroke? Will I know I‘m having one at the time?”

He told me that I would and that stroke symptoms aren’t subtle. I would have 1, maybe 2 hours to get to the hospital to break it up or remove the clot.

“A side effect of the blood thinner you recommend, a brain bleed, is rare. Nevertheless I’ve had rare side effects before. I think that I choose not to take the blood thinner. It’s a risk. ”

A compromise was at hand. With that, my electrophysiologist wrote a prescription for a new- to-the- market blood thinner. He didn’t date it and asked me to carry it in my wallet wherever I went. If I go into atrial fib for 6 hours or more, I should get the prescription filled and contact his office. I promised that I would.

That was 5 years ago.  No atrial fib so far. Each year he gives me a new prescription. Last year he also gave me a coupon for 2 free weeks of the drug. In 2 months I’ll be 80. I feel great. A 24 hour window between the beginning and the road to recovery of a stroke will be amazing.

Read more in my book: IN A HEARTBEAT, The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Soon available as audio book.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes

 

RosalieUngar.com

In a Heartbeat by Rosalie Ungar

Amazing good news for those of us with A-Fib

Last week I read on my iPhone an article, “Apple Watch Could Detect Heart Arrhythmia” by digital editor Ryan Bushey. It’s an app for our iPhone and Android. Not ready yet, it will be potentially able to detect atrial fibrillation. Researchers say that it will be able to identify A-Fib with 97% accuracy compared to an electrocardiogram.

As the author of a recent (published late summer 2016) book, IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, I presumed that I was as up-to-date as possible with new discoveries in my chronic affliction AF, managed for now with meds, an ablation 10 years ago and digital information from my 3rd pacemaker. An app for the phone? WOW!

I’m reminded of a question that comes up in my speeches to heart patients, rehab patients and caregivers on a regular basis about my book, “How do you know you are in A-Fib if you can’t feel it?”  That can be a dilemma because many patients don’t know they have it at first. Initially I felt an irregular heartbeat in an exercise class as early as 1980 only because the trainer told us to take our pulse. Mine was so flighty that I couldn’t find it and when I did, it reminded me of hummingbird wings fluttering in the breeze.

Two years went by before a doctor noticed it and suggested I see a cardiologist. I’d probably been in and out of A-Fib many times but didn’t know it. Now I did. As my electrophysiologist Dr. John Hummel said, “Atrial fib begets atrial fib.” However, everyone is different. Some people never feel it. Some are in AF all the time. Some, like me, go in and out of the weird heartbeat For some it gets worse with time and affects life style. That, too, happened to me. But now, an app?

Maybe now those who ignore their own atrial fibrillation and refuse to get treatment can investigate the best way to identify the heart arrhythmia and see a cardiologist or electrophysiologist. Statistics show that 70% of men diagnosed with atrial fibrillation get treatment. Only about 30% of women with it obtain treatment. Why? I haven’t figured that out. There are 6 million people in this country with AF and that is only the ones that know they have it. It’s becoming an epidemic and not just for the aging population, but certainly it is happening there. I had my first episode at age 43.

More than 130,000 Google searches are made on atrial fibrillation each month. There are so many questions. An app for my iPhone? Amazing.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Soon available as audio book.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes

 

RosalieUngar.com