ATRIAL FIB: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT – PART 2

This post first published on October 8, 2017. Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


I had a heart attack while giving a speech about heart healthy foods to 25 men and women in the food industry. I was 63 with an active history of atrial fib, but was assured by doctors treating me that the heart attack and my atrial fib had nothing to do with each other.

That was the year 2000. Seventeen years later it has been proven that the 2 are related. So are many other human ailments. Among them are diabetes and diverticulosis both of which are related to heart problems of all kinds and to what foods we put into our bodies.

Though never having had diabetes, I have suffered this past year from bouts of diverticulitis. Loosely translated, it is the active form of a chronic condition called diverticulosis which forms bulging pockets in the digestive tract. It assures me that I must now be doubly careful so that what I eat, how much I eat and when I eat will allow me to sleep without discomfort, heart burn or intestinal spasms.

What is a heart healthy diet? It varies as we find out more information about new discoveries and genetics. For me it’s a combination of Weight Watchers™ and the Mediterranean Diet of eating.

Make sure that portion control is key and that artificial ingredients are none or almost none. Read labels. Use small plates. Take only one portion servings at each meal. Eat slowly putting your fork down between bites. Chew, don’t swallow food whole. Pay attention to what and how you are eating. Stop before you get full. The head doesn’t know the stomach is full for 20 minutes. You won’t know you’ve overeaten until after you’ve overeaten. Then, it’s too late.

I am active in several heart organizations, some local, some national and some related to The Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. HEALING HEARTS OF CENTRAL OHIO (www.healingheartscentralohio.org) meets monthly and features speakers on all phases of heart issues. Come join us if you are in the Central Ohio area.

Check out more info 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.
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

ATRIAL FIB: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

This post first published on October 2, 2017. Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


Mother used to say, “You are what you eat.” She didn’t know that it was a direct quote from Frenchman Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826. Literally translated it says, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

Mother’s quote was in the 1940s and 50s when our family sat down together at the kitchen table for a meal that was prepared by my mother. This was typical at that time, at least in the small town where I grew up. Eating habits were established, portions were smaller and no meal was complete unless it included a salad with raw veggies, an entrée with meat, chicken or fish, a potato, rice or pasta and a cooked vegetable canned or fresh.  This was before frozen foods were readily available.

Dessert may have been served, but it wasn’t a big deal. Mother didn’t bake a lot, so we had canned fruit cocktail and store-bought cookies. We drank water with the meal except in summer when we made lemonade by squeezing lemons and an orange, water, sugar, ice and mint sprigs from our yard.

We were healthy possibly because most of what we ate was fresh and portions were smaller than today and because very few chemicals were added for flavor and preserving.

I was on my way to a healthy lifestyle of eating but along the way things changed for all of us.

Early in my 35 year affliction with atrial fib when it began to interfere with my lifestyle in the 1980s, I realized that I had absolutely no control over when AF came or left. I could wake in the morning with it or start the weird heart rhythm in the middle of doing something or nothing at all.

I had no idea how long it would last or why. As time went on I could tell I was in A-fib right away. Heart palpitations and a feeling of tiredness and gloom settled in me. My electrophysiologist said that atrial fib begets atrial fib.

Was it something I ate or something I didn’t eat? I thought I knew a lot about nutrition. I followed what was then a heart healthy diet.

I remembered from my childhood and current job that what food and drink we put into our bodies has a lot to do with how we feel and what chronic problems may occur. This was about the time that cholesterol and fat were in everyone’s vocabulary to avoid. I was employed as a sales manager for a food company marketing a line of Weight Watchers dairy items, later doing the same for the Smart Balance line.

I lectured all over the country about good fats, low fats, hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils, saturated fats, poly unsaturated fats and ratios between the two. Hence, the Smart Balance products became quite popular.

My atrial fib was coming more often. I decided to eliminate some foods from my diet. No more steak or beef of any kind. More vegetables. Less sugar. Reading food labels, I cut out foods containing ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. Nothing helped.

I asked my cardiologist about food and atrial fib. She told me to cut out caffeine and alcohol. I did, but that wasn’t easy. Ed and I had a glass of wine or a drink almost every night with dinner. I stopped drinking totally. Still the A-fib came. I tested it: Occasionally I had a glass of wine and nothing happened, but the next time I had one, the atrial fib started.

This is Part 1. Atrial Fib…You Are What You Eat” will continue in next week’s blog.

Meanwhile, read more 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.
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

Pacemakers … Not Just For Atrial Fib

This post first published on June 3, 2018. Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


At age 61 my first pacemaker was inserted. I had been an A-Fib patient for almost 20 years before my heart stopped for several seconds during a hip replacement surgery. I woke up from that surgery in the hospital’s ICU (intensive care unit) surrounded by my orthopedic surgeon, an electrophysiologist, nurses, my husband and children. It was immediately suggested that I have a pacemaker inserted the next day. I could have had a stroke, or even died. For more details you can read about it in my memoir, IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.

Leaving the hospital with a new hip and a pacemaker set at 60 beats per minute, I decided that new body parts were the way to go. The hip is still in place and working great. Pacemaker batteries last about 10 years.  Usually replaced by a whole new device, the replacement pacemaker is often attached to the same wires. I have since had 2 replacement pacemakers, each representing a new level of technology. My 3rd pacemaker is using the original wires that were attached to my heart in 1999.

At almost 81, I hear more and more about aging adults getting pacemakers at 75. In an article by Sari Harrar In the April/May 2018 issue of AARP The Magazine about general health, it is explained that the number of “pacemaker” natural cells in the heart is declining at 70 plus and at that age there may be 90% fewer than you had in your youth. Approximately 225,000 people per year in the U. S. have pacemakers implanted. Only some of them are atrial fib patients.

A pacemaker battery can keep you going for decades, according to this article in AARP The Magazine. My life has been easier and full with the small device. Many of my friends now have a pacemaker. Often the insertion procedure is outpatient.

With each new pacemaker the technological advances have enabled greater capability. Early pacemakers were checked every 3 months by telephone transmission. My 3rd one is checked by a transmitter that works on the Wi-Fi in my home. The transmitter, that looks like a small speaker, sits about 6 feet from my bed. It records heart activity in its internal memory and communicates to a central data system. Automatic checks have shown no disturbances at all.

My heart rate without the pacemaker is as low as 30 beats per minute. The pacemaker keeps on tickin’ at 60 beats per minute and is keeping me alive. Now, if it could only cook dinner, it would be perfect.

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


Atrial Fib … Stress Related, or Not?

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


This is the second in a series of blogs by guest blogger Lisa Eliason. She, like me, has had many health issues most or all of which are managed or, in some cases, cured. Read about them and be inspired:

In 2012, I was a physical wreck.  My sinuses were constantly congested, I woke at night gasping for breath, I was overweight, and suffered a bout of shingles.  At one point, I could barely walk due to what I later learned to be osteoarthritis in my hip.

I was working full time and doing a lot of volunteer work.   My husband was working full time and travelling the world for a national organization of which he was the president.   He was never home.  The home chores fell on me and it was during the winter and during one particular ice storm the heart arrhythmia hit.  My doctor told me it was stress.

I knew what stress could do to my body. Back in the 1980s I was teaching in a program that was about to be cut at any time.  Every Sunday night I experienced bouts of diarrhea thinking this was the week.  I would go in on Monday and the diarrhea would clear up.

I decided to take care of the sinus issues first and learned I had sleep apnea.  During sinus surgery my heart went out of rhythm and I awoke to doctors and nurses dashing about.  The surgery was aborted but my Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) was diagnosed.

The Afib was definitely the worst of the health ailments.   I dealt with it through medication and finally heart ablation surgery.  To this day, I wish I had bypassed the medication and went right to the ablation.  The medication would cause my heart to slow to 30 beats a minute at night and I was sure I was going to die in my sleep.

I changed my diet to an anti-inflammatory diet, lost weight, exercised, and recently had hip replacement surgery.  The sleep apnea evidenced by the nighttime gasping stopped when I lost weight.  I am now back to walking and riding an exercise bike.

How did I get to where I am today?   Although the health issues progressed rapidly, it was a seven year process to return to good health.   I read blogs from people who experienced similar problems, read books like Rosalie Ungar’s In a Heartbeat, and remembered the words of Henry David Thoreau I taught my students back in the 1980s, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

Every day I make a conscious effort to simplify my life whether it is by discarding material items from my life thereby becoming a minimalist or discarding unhelpful thoughts from my head.  I don’t take on more that I can manage.   I don’t watch mainstream TV.  Sure I keep up on the national news, but I don’t spend my day consumed with news reports.   I now recognize that stress can be a killer.  I don’t know that stress caused my heart arrhythmia and other health ailments but am pretty sure it did contribute.

Thank you, Lisa for your openness in revealing health issues related to atrial fib. In next week’s blog I will report on my husband Ed’s heart ablation that takes place in a few days. It has been exactly 12 years since my first and only ablation. I have been atrial fib free since. Even so, much research and changes have taken place to make atrial fibrillation more treatable.

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


Atrial Fib & Joint Replacement Surgeries

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


This week’s blog is written by guest blogger Lisa Eliason. Her journey is similar to my almost 40 years of life with atrial fibrillation as well as related and unrelated health issues.


Eight weeks ago, at age sixty-four, I had a total hip replacement.  Every day last week I walked 10,000 steps and am now riding an exercise bike. I feel great.   The journey here has been long and arduous and started almost seven years ago.

In 2012, at age fifty eight, I was a physical wreck.   I was overweight.  I was suffering from sinus issues and constantly congested.  I would awake at night gasping for breath.   I tried a yoga class to lose weight but just ended up hurting myself.  My doctor said I pulled my groin muscles and started me on a regime of physical therapy.  That didn’t help.  My aunt, who I mirror health wise, believed the pain in my groin to be arthritis in my hips.   She had hip replacement surgery at just about the age I was then and said her pain started in her groin.   I didn’t think that it was possible, so I ignored her advice.

For me, the sinus issue seemed to be the first issue to tackle.  I decided to undergo sinus surgery.   When the surgeon put me under, I had my first major episode of Atrial Fibrillation (Afib).  I had been having minor episodes for months that my doctor said was “nerves.”   The surgery was stopped and I didn’t go back.  After that the race was on, literally.   I had at least one Afib episode every day.   Sometimes I would also have one at night and fall asleep praying that I would awake the next morning.   My mother died at forty-one and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t live much longer.  My aunt, who had also had Afib and ablation surgery, assured me I wasn’t going to die from the Afib.

I saw my aunt’s electrophysiologist for the Afib, tried medication and then decided on heart ablation surgery.   When the electrophysiologist put me under for the heart ablation he didn’t need to stimulate my heart, I went into Afib.

The surgery was a success.   I haven’t had any episodes of Afib since.   I changed my diet, lost weight and started walking.   My sinuses cleared up, but the pain in my groin continued.   I had osteopathic manipulation and saw a chiropractor.   No medical professional suggested a problem with my hips.  My aunt’s words came back to me and during one session with the osteopathic manipulator, I asked if I could have structural problems in my hips.  He stopped the manipulation and ordered x-rays.  Sure enough, I had severe osteoarthritis in my left and moderate in my right.  I needed a total hip replacement.

I was afraid of having a hip replacement.  The two prior times when I went under for surgery, I went into Afib.   So for a year and a half, I tried injections and medication.  In her book, In a Heartbeat, my aunt Rosalie Ungar describes how her heart stopped during hip replacement surgery and she had a pacemaker inserted.   I decided to have the hip replacement but not in our town that has quite capable orthopedic surgeons.  I decided to go to the hospital where my ablation had been performed.  All of my medical records were there and just in case something went wrong, the doctors would know what to do.

So here I am today.   I am not saying this will be my last health issue but reading blogs like this and Rosalie Ungar’s book, In a Heartbeat, have helped me on my health journey.

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


Atrial Fib & Blood Thinners … The New Generation

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


As promised in last week’s blog, expanded information on blood thinners will include my experiences with the new generation of blood thinning anticoagulants. All of this information and more can be found in my memoir: IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.

In 2007 I had an ablation to get rid of the 5 electrical pathways causing my atrial fibrillation. In 1980 when I felt A-fib for the first time, I didn’t know what it was and proceeded to ignore it as long as I could. I hoped that it would get better or go away totally. It didn’t. Though the bouts I felt were sporadic, eventually they became longer and stronger. My electrophysiologist told me that atrial fib begets atrial fib.

A stroke was in my future. Protection from a stroke was the blood thinner, warfarin, to keep from forming a clot, and an anti-arrhythmia, amiodarone, to keep the heart in rhythm. The pacemaker kept my heart rhythm from going too low. It was not effective if I went into atrial fib rhythm over 180 beats per minute. My hopes relied on a new procedure called an ablation.

The ablation was a success…mostly. Only 4 of the 5 electrical pathways could be ablated. The 5th one was too close to the esophagus and there was a danger of damage occurring if the procedure went that close (with the technology available in 2007).

I was feeling good for the first time in years. My doctor kept me on a lesser dose of warfarin for another year, a good call. Six months after the ablation, the 5th electrical pathway, close to the esophagus, showed up during a routine pacemaker check. It was causing havoc showing 500 short episodes of atrial fibrillation.

I was put on a different anti-arrhythmia, sotalol. It worked. It’s still working. I haven’t been in A-fib for 11 years. Pacemaker checks would report if I had been.

Life was great. During my yearly checkup with the electrophysiologist in 2013, he announced that I should go back on a blood thinner.

“Why?” I asked.

“For protection. We go by a point system, 4 points and more tell us you should be on a blood thinner:

  • You are over 75, 1 point.
  • You are a woman, 2 points.”
  • I reminded him that was only 3 points and since I hadn’t had atrial fib for 12 years I felt safe from a stroke.

“Besides,” I said, “I exercise, eat a healthy diet, the sotalol agrees with me, I‘ve reversed heart muscle damage from heart attacks, my EKG, pacemaker checks and stress test results perfect and my numbers are good—HDL, LDL and more. I don’t want to take a blood thinner! Besides so much advancement has been made on strokes, if patients get to the hospital within an hour or two, the stroke could do less damage than a blood thinner.”

We compromised: I carry an undated prescription in my wallet for a new generation blood thinner, apixaban, brand name Eloquis, if I go into A-fib for more than 6 hours. He updates it every year. It’s been 6 years.

The new generational blood thinners aren’t old enough to have generic replacements and they are expensive. Even with insurance, co-pays can be as high as $400 per month. Manufacturers will offer assistance for low income patients and patients on Medicare. It takes some searching, but can be worth it.

My Mantra is to be your own advocate. Know your own body. Make your own educated medical decisions based on what you’ve studied. Ask questions. Don’t stick your head in the sand. Beware of a natural decision to delay treatment and pretend, as one of my friends did, that the diagnosis can be ignored. We’ve all done that and sometimes it can be deadly. Establish a working relationship with your doctor(s). If you have a communication problem with them, discuss it with them.

The question I get most from readers is about what to do if you and your doctor don’t agree—to be covered in a future blog.

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

Atrial Fib & Blood Thinners

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


Treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation usually begins with a blood thinner.

If the patient feels A-fib, it can be in the form of anxiety, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat or none of these. For me, I was taking my pulse after a workout in an exercise class. When I found the heart rhythm at the inside of the right wrist just under my hand, it felt like a fluttering bird. Then there was a pause of nothing at all. I pulled my hand away from my wrist. I decided to forget about it. That was 1980.

Two years later during a routine exam with an endocrinologist for a thyroid problem, it happened again. The doctor immediately sent me to a cardiologist. I was very tired and didn’t feel good. She told me that I was in atrial fibrillation and could have a stroke.

That was the beginning of a long journey. Read more about it in my memoir IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.

In the 1980s and until not long ago, warfarin was the only blood thinner used for heart arrhythmia problems. Coumadin, an anticoagulant, is the brand name for the drug warfarin. It must be regulated and checked every week or 2 with a lab blood test measuring the patient’s INR. Too much or too little can be dangerous. Levels of 2.0 to 3.0 INR are preferred for patients taking Coumadin. Side effects can vary with diet, other meds, cuts, bruises and more.  I took that drug for 12 years.

Warfarin, the generic name for Coumadin, is also the key ingredient in rat poison. It has been since before it was used as a medication, even during the 12 years I was taking it.

My husband Ed, who reads a novel a week, loves mysteries. Usually in a mystery, the storyline includes a murder. In one of the recent novels, he read that the murder weapon was warfarin. The victim’s food was laced with large quantities of the blood thinner to induce bleeding which caused death. In the story, the mysterious cause of death was found during the autopsy. The murderer was exposed when large quantities of the poison were found in her possession.

A variety of blood thinners are now on the market. It’s only been a few years since they’ve advanced but they have changed the way atrial fib is treated and managed. If you watch TV, you’ve probably seen ads for some of the other brands. They all have side effects…some very few, others more severe. Costs and co-pays vary as do directions for starting and stopping their use.

Next week’s blog will include more information about the new generation of blood thinners and my experience with them. Meanwhile check out my book IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib now on audio book and all forms of digital and through Amazon.

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


Atrial Fib and the Heart Bypass

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This blog was first published on March 4, 2018.


The progression of safe and common heart procedures and new equipment and technology is amazing. Almost 20 years ago I had a heart attack while giving a speech about heart healthy foods. Did I have any warning? Yes. Six weeks before that I had similar chest pain while boarding a plane to visit my children and grandchildren. The pain went away after a few minutes but it left me tired and with a sore chest. I did nothing about it even though I had suffered with and was in treatment for atrial fib. You can read the whole story IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups and Downs of Life with Arial Fib, a memoir. Click here.

Besides being stupid about the initial chest pain episode, I was lucky even though I was halfway across the country at the time. My thinking was that it was a new wrinkle in my long history of atrial fib. Then I was told that atrial fib had nothing to do with the heart attack.

Now research has discovered that everything including atrial fib has to do with heart attacks: thyroid disease, diabetes, smoking, diet, exercise, gender and genetics. Care and condition of teeth, blocked arteries of the eyes and, of course the biggie…stress. All of this including medications have major impact on heart disease.

The heart is a complicated organ. Twenty years ago it was discovered that my heart attack was caused by a blockage in the major artery on the outside of the heart sometimes referred to as ‘the widow maker.’ Actually it’s the left anterior descending artery. I was scheduled for open heart surgery, but because it was a single artery bypass and in location of easy access, I was a candidate for a then new surgery developed by Dr. Randall Wolf. He was on loan to OSU, a teaching hospital, to instruct his procedure to other endoscopic coronary surgeons for a less invasive bypass surgery.

Instead of ‘open heart’, a small incision was made under the left breast and a robot was inserted tying off the mammary artery to bypass the blockage. It didn’t take long and I was home 2 days later.

Now 20 years later the robotic heart surgery has held and I have improved my lifestyle by weight loss, healthy diet, careful attention to my meds, a dedicated exercise program and marrying Ed.

It appears that the robotic heart bypass has in part been replaced by the stent, but 20 years ago there was something similar called the ‘balloon’ to clear the arteries. My cardiologist at the time told me that the artery blockage I had was filled with ‘junk’—a combination of calcium, plaque, cholesterol and ‘stuff’ that may have been accumulating since I was a teenager.

A few years ago an echo cardiogram revealed that I have no evidence of any heart damage from my heart attacks. I am told that eliminating that muscle damage is rare. I see its success from my lifestyle changes, especially exercise.

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


A-Fib: NOT ALWAYS THE ONLY PROBLEM

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This blog was first published on October 22, 2017.


Lisa Eliason is today’s guest blogger. Several weeks ago she wrote a 2 part blog about Atrial Fib & the Loop, a minimally invasive device that tracks and records episodes of atrial fib. Her blog this week describes other medical issues that occurred at the same time, not unusual as we age and discover genetics play a big part in our health and that managing all of our issues can make aging a time of greater enjoyment. Here is Lisa’s blog:


My health decline began in 2011 when I was 57. I started experiencing shortness of breath. Then came heart arrhythmia and sleep apnea. Sinus issues followed with almost constant congestion and infections. Then the atrial fib again. I also had a bevy of auto immune ailments that included a bout with Shingles, a viral infection that causes a painful skin rash.

Physically I started experiencing pain in the groin. I now know that was the beginning of my journey toward hip replacement. However, at that time, the diagnosis was a pulled groin muscle. Physical therapy helped me.

By 2014 I was a physical mess. I took the ‘bull by the horns’ and researched my ailments. The first thing was to take control of my diet. One book advocated cutting out 7 inflammatory foods. I did that and the nasal congestion lessened while the auto immune issues went away. I lost 40 pounds and started walking 2 miles a day.

I had a cardiac ablation. It was successful. The sleep apnea went away. No more atrial fib. I had 2 good years, and then in 2016 when I was walking 4 miles a day, I came down hard on the left leg causing pain in my piriformis muscle, located in the buttock region. Physical therapy did help. I know that it was my hip, not my groin.

In 2017 I came down hard on my weakened left leg again. I informed the doctor that my brother, who is 12 years younger, had both hips replaced at age 40. An x-ray showed severe osteoarthritis in my left hip and moderate in the right. The left hip is bone on bone. Two different doctors said I am headed toward hip replacements.

I wasn’t shocked by the diagnosis. The shock came after a routine blood test when I learned that I am pre-diabetic. My brother has diabetes. Genetics again.

Perhaps if I hadn’t taken such good care of myself in my 40s and 50s, I would have faced new health issues sooner.

Being aggressive about my health issues, I recognize they are not going to fix themselves. Neither will a pill. I’m going to get that hip replaced now so that I can get back to my exercise. I have been proactive and that has made all of the difference. Attitude is everything!


Thank you Lisa for your contribution. Read more about multiple health issues 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.
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

Atrial Fib … All in the Family

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


Two months ago I wrote in my weekly blog that Ed, my husband, has been diagnosed with atrial fib. Almost 83, he’s been in good health with considerable energy levels and no broken bones except for a broken ankle 25 years ago. He exercises daily and eats a healthy diet.

His A-fib was discovered during a routine physical exam. He was promptly scheduled for tests and appointments with an electrophysiologist at a major heart hospital that services a large area of our state. It’s important when diagnosed with a heart problem that treatment be given by a specialist in a hospital with physicians covering all heart problems.

For example: Ed’s doctor is not just a cardiologist, he’s an electrician, specifically an  electrophysiologist who takes care of keeping the heartbeat going and at a regular rhythm. Patients with an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat should be in treatment with an electrophysiologist. Often a heart hospital will suggest and recommend one. Before making the choice, go online and check out the hospital, the doctors and even patient reviews of the doctors in their specialties.

Our heart center has specialists in sleep apnea. Many atrial fib patients suffer from it. This is potentially a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Sleep apnea   tests can be diagnosed at a sleep clinic requiring the patient to stay overnight hooked up to a table top monitor with a small mask. Or, it can be taken with a home monitor using a small battery operated case strapped to the chest and attached to plastic tubing going to the nose. Both gather data for breathing patterns. Neither causes sleep deprivation. Ed is going for treatment at our heart center with sleep apnea specialist, Dr. Rami Khayat.

Sleep apnea is more common in men than women and often accompanies heavy snoring. It is prevalent in ages 41-60 and more prevalent for those over 60. It also frequently accompanies obesity. However, Ed is not obese, nor does he snore. My niece, a guest writer for these blogs, had sleep apnea while getting treatment for atrial fib. She lost the excess weight and her sleep apnea went away.

Ed has been scheduled for a heart ablation early next year. He and I are both confident that this will relieve the atrial fib. I had atrial fib starting, as far as I know, in 1980. I lived with it as it got worse for 27 years before I could have an ablation. I haven’t had it since, almost 12 years. Find out all about A-fib in detail by reading my most recent memoir IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, now in paperback, digitally or in audiobook.

And, if you have A-fib, get treatment.  Without treatment you could have a stroke.

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