This blog, which was first published on October 29, 2017, has been updated and reposted.
Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.
Suppose you are all alone and you feel like your heart is going to jump out of your chest. You don’t know what’s happening. You ask yourself: Is this what they call heart palpitations? You sit down and try to catch your breath. It’s difficult. Your breath is coming fast and in short spurts. You’ve seen dozens of TV commercials about A-Fib and blood thinners, showing middle age men and women together riding bikes, taking walks, holding hands advertising blood thinners with names you can’t pronounce. Minutes go by then it stops. You feel better. Your breathing goes back to normal. Then, you forget about it…until the next time it happens.
That could be atrial fib also known as atrial fibrillation or A-Fib or AF. It’s an arrhythmia that can cause strokes.
I had it for 35 years. A-Fib came and left and lasted sometimes for minutes then hours and sometimes days. I don’t have A-Fib anymore, or I haven’t for the last 10 years. It didn’t go away by itself. It was a difficult journey that included 2 heart attacks and 3 pacemakers and a wonderful team of electrophysiologists, cardiologists and other partners in medicine that handle related medical problems. All of them keep me in good health with a lifestyle better than I ever dreamed for an 80 year old.
How did I get to this point? It’s called maintenance. Choose your team with care and knowledge. A-Fib is an electrical problem of the heart. Start with an electrophysiologist and a cardiologist. Ask questions and be educated in new techniques and meds. Talk to others with similar problems. FIND A SUPPORT GROUP.
I belong to 2 heart support groups. Healing Hearts of Central Ohio meets each month at the Ross Heart Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. After a quick heart healthy supper starting at 6 PM, we talk to each other about our problems and treatments then watch and listen to one or two doctors who specialize in caring for the heart. Talks cover subjects like atrial fib and heart rhythm devices, heart failure, valve problems, congestive heart failure, heart transplants, nutrition, exercise, by-pass surgeries, care givers, medications, sleep apnea, and genetics.
Yes, sleep apnea goes along with atrial fib. It’s more likely to appear in men. Does gender play a part in atrial fib studies? Yes, but studies change and new information and managed cures are happening all the time.
I learned an interesting theory in the Pour Your Heart Out support group meeting that I attended last week. Dr. John Hummel, my electrophysiologist and hero, was one of the speakers. When a question from the audience was asked as to why there are so few female electrophysiologists, it was suggested that it’s because of the constant radiation and women in their child-bearing years are very careful not to be exposed to radiation.
Learn more IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib available at all book stores in paper back and ebook and soon an audiobook on Audible.com, iTunes and Amazon. Meanwhile, I invite any of the blog readers interested in the topic of atrial fibrillation to contact me to guest blog on this website. I would be happy to guest blog on other related blogs. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to visit the Healing Hearts of Central Ohio website.