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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


Atrial Fib and Body Movement

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


My new word for ‘exercise’ or the ‘e word’ is now ‘body movement’. I’m discovering that the ‘e word’ frightens and intimidates many adults of all ages if they have normal family commitments, a demanding job, aches and pains or are frequently tired and depressed. I’ve had them all as well as just being lazy. However, I’ve always felt better and with elevated energy when I have a body movement routine.

I do feel that my past body movement routines have helped to keep me out of atrial fib for 11 years.

In last week’s blog, I mentioned my lifetime of health problems and how body movement has kept me going at a good pace. I also said that my 81 year old body requires that I change my ‘e’ way of doing things:

  • One year ago I stopped using a personal trainer. I had developed a pain down the side of my left leg and irritable bowel syndrome. I tried going to an ‘e’ class but had more leg and some back pain when I did, so I stopped altogether for several months.
  • I went to a chiropractor for treatment over a 3 month period. Along with an activator device to help spine related parts, he gave me some mild body movements to do as illustrated in a brochure. I’m able to do them in my pajamas in the morning on the floor or in my bed or standing while holding on to a wall or table. They took 7 minutes and nothing hurt.
  • Then Ed decided to do them with me. He had a more rigorous ‘e’ routine and his 82 year old body had just been diagnosed with atrial fib. We did the body movements together as Oscar, the cat, watched from the foot of the bed.
  • That was 6 months ago. We do more stretching movements and increased the time to about 20 minutes. It’s actually fun. We added a 15 second plank on the floor, 10 squats from a bench and pushups, not on the floor but from a table or the wall.
  • The back is better but I still use a heating pad while watching TV in the evenings, never sleeping with it though.
  • Leg pain is gone and the irritable bowel syndrome is much better, especially if I continue to eat small amounts of foods that I know won’t irritate my insides.

Best of all, the only body part that hurts is the right hand. That’s from carpal tunnel, scheduled for surgery December 17th.

Ed feels better from the daily body movements too. More next week about his atrial fib, sleep apnea, meds and his upcoming heart ablation.

Attitude is everything along with body movement. Meanwhile read my 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.
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 … An Epidemic for the Aging?

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


I’ve been to 4 funerals in the last 2 months. They were friends and husbands or wives of friends; all but 1 were age 75 or older. One was just under 60 years old and had cancer. The other 3 died from a variety of heart problems.

I wrote a book about my experiences with atrial fib that began when I was age 43, young to have that problem in 1980 when it wasn’t even known to the public as atrial fibrillation, just “an irregular heartbeat”. My memoir, IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, chronicles every issue connected with my heart until I had a heart ablation at age 70 in 2007. The issues, 2 heart attacks, 3 pacemakers, a robotic heart bypass and almost 30 years of atrial fib are just the ones connected to the heart. I’ve also had a lifetime of thyroid problems, 2 hip replacements, gall bladder removal, irritable bowel syndrome, vertigo and carpal tunnel.

None are cured. They are all being managed by medications that I understand and approve of with pharmacologists and my doctors. I advocate to readers that they establish a relationship with their doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants and partner with them in care and progress. Get 2nd opinions when in doubt. Get to know and take good care of your own body. Know your meds, what they do, when to take them, how to take them (with food or without food) and their compatibility with each other and over-the-counter meds you take.

Heart attacks do irreparable damage to the heart and the heart muscle. I have reversed all damage done to my heart since my own 2 heart attacks in 2000, almost 19 years ago. When doctors told me this news, they suggested that the damage reversal, though rare, was due to exercise, diet, and attitude. Exercise is number 1.

I’m 81 years old. Lots has been said and written about exercise. Cleveland Clinic researchers studied 122,000 people for 13 years concluding that not exercising is worse than smoking.

Thirty-five years ago I started to get serious about exercise. Started walking…15 minutes, then 30 then 45 minutes then checking distance…a mile and increasing a little more each month. It wasn’t long before I got to 4 miles then 4 miles in an hour. I walked outside mostly. Then I bought a treadmill. I walked 4 miles 4 or 5 times a week for 15 years.

After retirement from my job, I started working out with a trainer to get upper body training too. By the time I turned 80 the trainer had me doing 100 pushups, planks, squats as well as weight training and cardio.

My 81 year old back requires that I change my routine for working out. I’m still exercising every day. More about that in a future blog.

Working out relieves stress, promotes a good attitude and gives you the strength to enter old age in good shape.

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 DNA

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


The gift of DNA was given to me as last year’s most interesting present at holiday time. My niece and nephew first asked for my permission to send for the information because it required my participation to provide a swab from the inside of my mouth along with payment to be sent to a DNA bank by the generous couple. They had each done it and were fascinated by the results. I was already part of a medically professional genetic study for atrial fib and other heart issues at the medical center heart hospital where I have been a patient for many years. The 2 genetic studies are not related. Read more about that in my most recent memoir IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.

Six weeks later the results came back and my niece and I devoured the information on a Sunday afternoon. How fun. The report is one page of ancestral background percentages. It is not a medical document. Mine was not much of a surprise except for one minor detail shared by both studies. As first generation American on my mother’s side and second generation on my father’s, the report shows that I am 92.9% Askenazi (Europe) Jewish, 5.4% North Africa Sephardic Jewish and 1.7% Nigerian.

The medical center’s genetic heart study is research that can and will help millions. By measuring small genetic variations adding up to do harm in someone’s inherited risk, this study will calculate the most common forms of heart disease (atrial fib) and other serious disorders. The potential cardiac impact estimates that up to 25 million Americans may have triple the average person’s risk for coronary artery disease even if they haven’t yet developed warning signs like high cholesterol.

My participation was put on hold while the protocol for the genetic study was changed. A year ago I was called in by the department to come in for testing which consisted of a one-on-one interview and several vials of blood.

Almost 6 months later I was called back in for a meeting to reveal preliminary results of testing in a meeting with the doctor/scientist in charge of the study, his assistant and me. We were in a conference room at a long table. The doctor sat across from me with 4 pages of typed notes in front of him. His assistant sat next to me. I took no notes.

He explained that they had studied 25,000 of my genes. There are billions of genes in the human body. They compared them to all of the other people in the study comprising an international gene bank. He said that none of my genes were a match for anyone else’s and that it was surprising because of all the health problems I’ve had during my life. He indicated that their findings were good and could be used in research for which more study was needed.

Many other revelations came out during the 45 minute meeting, few if any that I can remember because my mind was focusing on from whom and why I inherited this ‘condition’. I asked if there was anyone with similar genetics to mine.

The doctor said that there was one other person with similar genetics and that person lives in Finland and while not revealing whether man or woman, said that this person is an Askinazi (Europe) Jew and is a direct relative. The mystery continues.

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


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

ATRIAL FIB … LESSONS LEARNED, Part 2

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


Life is so much better without the worry of going into atrial fib in the last 11 years. So much so that the seriousness of any other health problem is diminished. I tend to ignore or justify other issues that go wrong. That was the subject of the recent blog, Lessons Learned Part 1 about carpal tunnel and the surgical procedure I waited too long to have.

Now I’ll reveal another mistake I made resulting in an issue I encountered recently. It has to do with balance. Exercise is a key to solving many health problems. I owe exercise to be partially responsible for repairing heart muscle damage from my 2 heart attacks. Balance training was a big part of my workout. Most of the women in my work outs had a similar problem, more or less. Read about it: IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.

As time went on my walking began a slight winding path like weaving. It wasn’t all of the time but enough that I noticed it and so did others, especially those walking behind me. I justified it as an aging symptom and treated it by being very careful using Ed for balance when we were together. I was in denial about getting treatment.

On 2 occasions I woke up during the night, sat up in bed because the room was spinning around. It lasted only a few minutes or less, then I went back to sleep. In the morning I was fine so I didn’t do anything about it until the next time which came sooner, not later.

I called my primary care physician who had me come that day. He put me through several tests. He had several suggestions and asked a lot of questions suggesting it might be a neck or spine problem, a mini-stroke or could likely be an inner ear problem.

Our medical facility has a whole building devoted to ear, eye and hand problems so I was familiar with the geography. The appointment was made at the ear clinic and I was put through a series of tests starting with a test for middle ear problems where crystals may have formed. That wasn’t the problem.

An appointment was made for an inner ear test taking 90 minutes of unpleasantries including equipment that blew 1 minute of warm air in each ear, then 1 minute of cool air in each ear. Eye movement was tested and retested and finally our consultation with the physician revealed that I flunked the inner ear tests, diagnosed with vertigo and 49% imbalance on the left side with similarly 25% on the right.

Now what? For now it was explained that I would be prescribed entry into a rehab program for  ‘vestibular’ therapy twice a week and instructed to use a cane 100% of the time for balance to keep me from falling. The good news: no pills, no surgery and the rehab center is 5 minutes from my house. The handicap placard I was issued for my car is only good until March. This means I should be cured by then.

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


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.