Personal Medical Technology Devices Usher in New World of Cardiac Care

Cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for men and women, is progressively being managed by new medical technology, specifically heart rhythm monitoring devices. These hand-held electrocardiogram (EKG) monitors are growing in the industry, allowing anyone to get results from the comfort of their own home.

Dr. Robert Baker, a cardiologist with Nevada Cardiology Associates, states the importance for patients over the age of 40 to self monitor. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a major stroke risk especially for those over 40, who have an increased risk of 1 in 4 of developing Afib.

These self monitoring devices are beneficial for patients with cardiac issues as well as health-conscious people who would like to stay on top of their heart health. Those with a family history may be especially concerned with developing a heart problem down the line, so home monitoring devices put any concerns to ease.

This is a summary of an article written by Media Plant: Future of Personal Health.

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Self monitoring for stress-free traveling

Traveling in general can be a stress inducing activities. Making deadlines, remembering to pack everything and reassuring everyone is having a good time can be difficult. Traveling with AFib is a whole other story. On top of the traveling stress, your heart health is particularly important. Managing your stress levels and enjoying the vacation is possible! For a fun, relaxing vacation follow these tips for traveling with AFib to make the most out of your trip!

Before Travel

1. Medications

Before you leave, make sure all of your heart medications are fully stocked and packed. If possible, take some extra to avoid not having enough in the result of lost belongings.

2. Medical Alert Bracelet

If you do not already have one, purchase a medical bracelet and wear it on your trip. It should list your condition, medications and contact information in the instance of an emergency.

3. Self-Monitoring Device

If you are traveling with Afib, considering taking a self-monitoring device with you for peace of mind in case you think you are having an event. A device such as AfibAlert (link) is very portable and gives instant feedback so you know whether or not you need medical attention very quickly and reliably.

During Travel

1. Security

If your trip requires flying, or any type of security checkpoints, make sure to notify security. Going through metal detectors can disrupt pacemakers and other medical devices. Ask for a pat down instead.

2. Get up and stretch

Whether it’s a long car ride or a flight, getting up and stretching your legs is recommended. With AFib, you are at a higher risk for blood clots. Remaining sedentary for too long can increase this risk even more. Walking up and down the aisle of the planes every few hours or taking an extra stop on a car ride is a good idea.

3. Hydrate

Dehydration can trigger Afib symptoms. Avoid dehydrating liquids such as caffeine and alcohol and remember to drink lots of water.

After your arrival

1. Schedule

Being overtired can trigger Afib symptoms. Try to remain to a normal sleep schedule as much as possible.

2. Avoid exhaustion

Both physical and mental exhaustion can increase risk of an Afib episode. Be active, but know your limits to physical activities.

3. Enjoy yourself

Traveling can be a wonderful experience and shouldn’t be inhibited by your Afib condition. Enjoy yourself on vacation, know your boundaries and overall remember to relax


Sources:

Web MD, Atrial Fibrillation Travel Tips

Everyday Health, Travel Tips for Atrial Fibrillation

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Afib monitoring devices comparison

This article is an informative comparison of heart rhythm monitor devices, not medical advice. 

Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is an irregular heartbeat that often causes poor blood flow and increases risks of heart related illnesses such as stroke. Afib effects many Americans, and can be easily detected and treated. There are many ways to monitor Afib, such as heart rhythm monitor devices that can detect occurrences of afib episodes, implantable devices to monitor the heart 24/7 and medications that help control heart rhythm disturbances.

Device comparison

afibalertAfibAlert

heartcheck penHeartcheck Pen AliveCor_monitorAliveCor

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.52.53 AMECG Check

Detects AF
Check_mark_23x20_02 Check_mark_23x20_02 Check_mark_23x20_02
Ease of use in detecting Afib*
 Check_mark_23x20_02
FDA Clearance
Check_mark_23x20_02
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Check_mark_23x20_02
Check_mark_23x20_02
Accuracy**
Check_mark_23x20_02
Instant Feedback
Check_mark_23x20_02
Check_mark_23x20_02
Prescription required
Check_mark_23x20_02 For Afib detection
PC Compatible
Check_mark_23x20_02
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Requires SmartPhone or Tablet
Check_mark_23x20_02 Check_mark_23x20_02
Price

Starting at $249

Starting at $259 Starting at $99

Starting at $139

About/website
afibalert.com theheartcheck.com alivecor.com ecgcheck.com

 

* Ease of use implies that there are 2 or less steps in order for an accurate Afib reading to be detected.
** Accuracy is defined as 94% or higher accuracy in detecting Afib.

To learn more about each device, please find more details on each respective website.

Implantables 

Medtronic (Implantable) — An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is an implantable heart device that may terminate 98% of potentially life-threatening arrhythmias.

  • Highly effective in determining heart arrhythmias
  • Continuous monitoring
  • Prices vary

Drug Therapy

  • Clot Preventing Medication (antiplatelets, anticoagulants)
    • Antiplatelets (e.g. Aspirin) thins the blood to prevent blood clot formation and can increase your risk of bleeding.
    • Anticoagulants (e.g. Warfarin) thins the blood to prevent blood clot formation and can increase your risk of bleeding. With an anticoagulant prescription, there is often a monthly blood test that is necessary.
  • Heart Rate Controlling Medication (beta blockers, calcium channel blockers)
    • Beta blockers (e.g. Atenolol, Bisoprolol) are drugs used to slow the heart rate. This allows most patients to function, when their heart rate is controlled.
    • Calucium channel blockers (e.g. Dilitiazem, Verapamil) are used to slow the heart rate in patients with AFib and to reduce the strength of the muscle cell’s contraction.
  • Heart Rhythm Controlling Medications (sodium channel blockers, potassium channel blockers)
    • Sodium channel blockers (e.g. Flecainide (Tambocor®), Propafenone (Rythmol®)) help the heart’s rhythm by slowing the heart’s ability to conduct electricity.
    • Potassium channel blockers (e.g. Amiodarone (Cordarone® or Pacerone®), Sotalol (Betapace®)) help the heart’s rhythm by slowing down the electrical signals that cause AFib.

No single treatment for Afib is suited for every patient. If you have heart disturbances, talk with your physician for the best course of treatment for your diagnosis.

Sources:

American Heart Association

AfibAlert

Medtronic

The Heartcheck

AliveCor

ECG Check

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Two Easy Steps for Reducing Stress When You Have Afib

Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is a condition that causes irregular heartbeats. This condition affects many Americans and can be triggered by things such as alcohol, fatigue and stress. Stress releases adrenaline into the body which can trigger Afib episodes and few are aware that it can be easily managed. Dr. Ed Adib, a cardiothoracic surgeon with 35 years of experience, understands the importance of stress management and has developed a thriving consultancy around managing stress and wellness.

Humans are wired to respond to stress, so it is unnatural to stop it. Dr. Adib’s research is focused on how to correctly manage the inevitable responses people have to stress. Dr. Adib advises that with just two steps, the oncoming of stress responses can be diminished or become more manageable thereby lowering the incidence of intermittent Afib events.

The two steps are:

  1. Breathe. This may seem like an old school method, and even one that has been given a reputation of inefficiency, but it is the first step in calming stress. Deep, slow breathing has a calming effect on the musculo-skeletal system. When the brain senses stress, muscle tension is the first response along with shallowness of breath. By slowly breathing, the brain is being told to relax the muscles.

“Taking a few deep breaths as soon as you feel it affecting the body is the first step in managing stress,” Dr. Adib states. “Slowing your breathing sends messages to the brain to let it know that your body is physically OK and you’re not in danger.”

  1. Think. Taking a cognitive approach means actively thinking about your response to the stress. This step is crucial in figuring out the extent of threat your body could be in. Active thinking helps your brain prepare its correct response for the worst case scenario or the best outcome. In other words, this step is assessing the real danger of the situation. In most cases of modern day stressors, there is no real risk to your body.

“Cognitive thinking is a process by which you try to override the brain’s initial response to stress,” Dr. Adib states. “This process is necessary for helping your brain to analyze the severity of the oncoming stress and reacting accordingly.”

For example, you are sitting at your work and the paperwork starts accumulating. You are feeling very overwhelmed and deadlines are causing you a great amount of stress. Your body begins to react. Your heart rate may increase, your breathing may also become much quicker and shallower. In this situation, the aforementioned steps come into hand. First, slow your breathing. Calm your breathing with a long and slow breaths. This step physically relaxes your muscles and lets your brain know you are OK. Second, assess the situation. Yes, there is a mountain of paperwork to be done, but are you in any physical danger? Is your life being threatened? No. You are comfortably sitting at a desk and can sort through the paperwork in due time. Assessing the situation by actively thinking about the moment allows your brain to do damage control and lets your body understand that you are in no real danger, therefore diminishing the initial strong response.

As a strong advocate for preventative medicine, Dr. Adib knows the importance of staying knowledgeable about conditions that may induce stress. AFib patients have a heightened sense of anxiety living with the condition. False alarms and lack of knowledge can cause stress for the patient and the doctor.

Along with using stress management techniques, Dr. Adib advises that heart monitoring devices are a great tool for the patient and doctor in determining episodes and reducing anxiety over irregularities.

“Knowing when an episode is actually occurring is a major chore without any device,” says Dr. Adib. “Not knowing in and of itself is stress inducing. Heart monitoring devices provide ease of mind for the patient and doctor.”

He adds that monitoring devices that provide instant feedback and accurate results in-home such as the AfibAlert from Lohman Technologies can be very reassuring for those who think they may be having an Afib event.

“I wish I had this device when I was working with my patients. It would have provided a great ease of mind for me and my patients,” Dr. Adib comments on the AfibAlert.

Stress related Afib is fairly common, although quite manageable when the situation is handled properly. With other factors increasing risk of Afib episodes, such as alcohol intake or fatigue, stress can also be controlled and diminished. As Dr. Adib states, “life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to what happens.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.55.21 AMDr. Adib has 35 years of experience as a cardiothoracic surgeon and educator and 10 years of experience in stress and wellness consulting. He is a certified Stress and Wellness Consultant (SWC) with extensive formal training at The Canadian Institute of Stress. Learn more about his stress management organization, VitalOrganization.

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Special Holiday Promotion!

AfibAlertHolidaySpecial-500x500This holiday season we have a very exciting promotional sale. The AfibAlert (normally $349) is on sale for only $199! Special pricing is available on this item for the Holidays only (limited quantities available / special pricing runs through December 2015).

Check you this great deal before time runs out!

 

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Five Ways to Improve Your Life with AFib

afib

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AfibAlert used to monitor patients in Johns Hopkins study

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Electrophysiology Division conducted a clinical study using MRI to Evaluate Radiofrequency, Cryothermal, and Laser Left Atrial Lesion Formation in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation.  Patients were monitored for recurrence of atrial fibrillation after catheter ablation. The researchers used the AfibAlert monitoring due to its high accuracy and ease of use for patients.

The aim of the study was to evaluate three different catheter ablation energy modalities (radiofrequency , cryothermal and Laser) with respect to lesion formation over time via MRI preprocedure 24 hours post procedure and at 3 months. This was then correlated to clinical outcome which was defined as recurrence of atrial fibrillation.

Dr. John N. Catanzaro, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Associate Program Director of the Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship at the University of Florida Health – Jacksonville described the overall experience with the AfibAlert. He stated, “Our main goal was to find a monitoring device that was accurate, easy to use and reliable for patients to monitor their atrial fibrillation symptoms on their own and be able to continue to enjoy activities of daily living without interruption.”

Outpatient monitoring for atrial fibrillation is vital given that the pathophysiology of the disease is one that evolves. The recurrence of atrial fibrillation can lead to a decreased quality of life and carries with it a risk of stroke. Patients can develop “silent” atrial fibrillation (without symptoms).

“Accurate and easy to use monitoring for recurrence of atrial fibrillation can aid in diagnosis.  This in turn can lead to earlier clinical intervention and improved quality of life for the patient.,” Dr. Catanzaro stated.

The full study is available to read online.

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Preparing for a Doctor’s Visit with Afib & At Home Monitoring

Like most conditions, the sooner they are found, the easier they are to treat. Atrial Fibrillation is no different. If you believe you might have Afib, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. However, before you go, there are some items to keep in mind:

Pre-Visit Prep:

After a visit is scheduled, it’s important to think about your symptoms and health history. Write these down so it’s easy and quick to recall the information to your doctor. It is also helpful to ask if the doctor requires any certain steps before the appointment, such as documents to bring along, or medicines to hold off on taking and so on.

Prepare Questions:

Since doctor visits are usually brief, you might want to jot down some questions that you have before the appointment. More questions might arise during the appointment, but it’s good to have a list so you won’t forget something that was on your mind a few days before the appointment. This article contains several questions that are useful to ask of your doctor to get prepared for the appointment.

Ask About At Home Monitoring:

One option that is becoming increasingly popular now is at home health monitoring in which the patient uses a device to monitor their health and any symptoms they may have, and the device records this information so it can be shared with a physician. These devices are very useful because it can give physicians much more accurate information about the patient’s health. If you’re interested in asking about one of these devices, there are several in the market and your doctor can help you find the right one for you. Most devices require a prescription, so be sure to discuss this option with your care provider in order to be able to get one. This article contains more information for aiding in the decision to use at home monitoring devices and if it’s right for both you and your physician.

Bottom line: If you believe you have Atrial Fibrillations, or similar symptoms, see your doctor right away. The best way to treat Afib is to get appropriate treatment and be comfortable with knowing the ins and outs of the condition so you’re able to make smart decisions in caring for yourself.

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How To Take Care of Yourself When You Have Afib

Any type of health issue is concerning, and one sure way to feel better about it is to be educated on how to take care of yourself, especially when you are experiencing an episode of Atrial Fibrillation. I’ve compiled five pieces of advice that will aid in taking care of yourself in general when you have Afib, and when you’re having an episode.

Don’t Ignore Warning Signs:

Atrial Fibrillation is a serious health condition for some people and it can lead to more serious issues such as heart attack or stroke. For this reason, it’s especially important to pay attention to your body and any symptoms you may have. WebMD sites that various symptoms of Afib include heart palpitations, or a feeling of a “flutter” in your chest, chest pain or pressure, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or fatigue, and intolerance to exercise. If you feel you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call your doctor to get checked out immediately.

Take charge of your nutrition:

Prevention is key! The best way to get healthy is to start now, and what better way to start than to change your nutrition habits. Your diet should be heavy in plant-based foods such as fruits and veggies, and low in trans fats, sodium and refined sugars. Changing your nutrition and eating habits is really a lifestyle change that will take time and effort to work on. The most important thing is that you make changes that work for you and make you feel great. This article contains information about how to get a jump start on making healthy changes by reflecting on your current habits and going from there.

Kick bad habits… now:

When it comes to being healthy, there are a few no brainers that just have to get kicked to the curb. I’m talking about smoking and drinking too much alcohol or caffeine. It’s easier said than done, but it’s so important to get rid of these bad habits in order to truly have a healthy lifestyle and to take care of your self.

Relieve stress:

I know you’ve heard it before, but you can never go wrong with a little stress relief. It has tremendous benefits to your health and wellbeing, especially for your heart and blood pressure. Stress relief comes in all shapes and sizes, and you need to think about your daily life and what causes you to tense up, and try your best to mitigate it. This article does a great job at explaining how to find your stressors and steps to take to relieve them.

Do whatever it takes to be healthy:

Finally, studies have shown that people who keep up with their regular shots, such as flu and pneumonia, have a lessened chance of a heart attack. Stay healthy by getting these shots each year and also taking your daily medicine. Be mindful of what your body needs to keep itself running properly and you’ll feel better about yourself overall. When you’re living with Afib, it’s extremely important to do whatever it takes to keep yourself healthy and feeling great.

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The Spring Swap

Via Pinterest

There are so many diet trends going around these days, sometimes it’s hard to know what’s truly good for you and what’s just a fad. However, one thing’s for certain: you can never go wrong by eating more fruits and vegetables. I always get so excited when spring time rolls back around because with it comes so many more delicious produce options. It’s almost overwhelming. One of my favorite ways to eat more fruits and vegetables isn’t just making sure that I eat an apple for a snack, or salad with my dinner… I like to get creative and actually swap out ingredients and replace them with fruits and veggies. With a little creativity, you can cut out extra carbs and calories, all while adding beneficial nutrients and vitamins. Plus, it’s so delicious, you can hardly tell the difference. All of these swaps include nutritious, heart healthy options. Here are some of my favorite treats:

Swap your chips

Kale is having a big moment these days, and it’s no surprise why. One cup of raw kale has 33 calories, 3 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, and the list goes on. Kale chips are great for satisfying a salty craving, and you can cater the recipe to your own taste as well. You should definitely make your own chips rather than buy them premade at a store, because they’re usually deep fried, or filled with preservatives. Plus, they’re so easy, there’s no excuse not to. These light and crispy chips can be enjoyed alone, or with a dip of your choice.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry (very dry) your kale and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the leaves. Top with salt and pepper to taste. You can also put red pepper flakes and Parmesan on it for an extra kick.

Swap your noodles

Zoodles: Not only is it a fun word, it’s also a delicious way to remove excess carbs and calories from your pasta dish. And, you’ll never notice a difference. Using a few zucchini, and a julienne tool, you can cut thin strips of the vegetable and add it in with your recipe just as you would with normal noodles. There are so many fun looking recipes here that allow you to get creative with your meals. You can also swap your noodles with other veggies such as spinach, or thinly sliced fresh green beans.

Swap your ice cream

We all have a sweet tooth every now and then. One of my go-to recipes when hunger strikes is banana “ice cream” made with frozen bananas. Peel two bananas and put them in the freezer for at least 1 hour or even overnight. Next, you put them in thblender and blend until smooth. That’s all! The bananas will melt a little bit and eventually have the exact consistency of ice cream. You can add other fresh fruits to your mixture, such as raspberries or strawberries, or make it more savory with cocoa powder or cinnamon.

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