5 Ways to Enjoy Summer with Afib!

Whether you’re having fun in the sun at a faraway destination or trying to keep cool at home, safety is always a priority if you have atrial fibrillation.  Keep your Afib in check by following these helpful hints to ensure you enjoy the most out of your summer!

  1. Keep to Your Regular Medication Schedule

Although the summer season drives us to relax in the sun and adventure outdoors, sticking to your regular medication schedule is one of the best ways to make sure your cardiac rhythms are regulated.  If you’re traveling, bring a little extra in addition to your normal dosage of your medication just in case, and don’t forget you’re portable AfibAlert home-monitoring device!  AfibAlert gives medical grade EKG readings to ensure that your atrial fibrillation is in check, giving you peace of mind to have fun in the sun instead of frequenting the hospital all summer.

  1. Get Your Steps In!

Summer’s warm weather makes it so much easier to get outside! To reduce your risk of blood clots and stroke partake in some light physical activity to keep active and increase blood flow. If you’re taking a plane to your travel destination make sure to stretch your legs and drink lots of water, high altitudes can exacerbate heart arrhythmias so taking the necessary precautions can help ensure you have a safe and relaxing flight.

  1. Join the Hydration Nation

Warm temperatures and UV exposure during the summer months can increase the effects of dehydration, a known trigger for Afib and heart arrhythmias.  Follow the 8×8 rule (8x8oz cups) to help get your daily recommended water intake!  Keep in mind that nothing replaces water as a hydrating agent, so instead of going right for that second drink have a glass of water in-between to stay hydrated, healthy, and to keep your Afib in check.

  1. Know Your Info

Knowing and being able to communication information about your medical condition is imperative when living with Afib, and is especially important when traveling.  If you’re on vacation this summer make sure you have your primary care physician’s contact information on hand, are aware of medical centers near your destination, and know your medication dose, type and frequency in case of emergency.  You may want to consider wearing a medical ID bracelet to clearly identify your medical condition and make sure to update your ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts to ensure your safety in a new environment.

  1. Eat, Drink & Be Merry, In Moderation

Don’t get lackadaisical with your heart healthy diet!  Stick to healthy foods and drink lots of fluids in higher temperatures and while on vacation.  Take advantage of this season’s produce and stock up on local fruits and veggies; they’re chock-full of vitamins and minerals, low-sodium and high in fiber content which helps fuel your body and kick start your metabolism.  Although we all love a piña colada by the pool, excessive alcohol intake can exacerbate cardiac symptoms, so regulate and hydrate!

Adapted from WebMD, MAYO Clinic & Everyday Health

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New “Pill in Pocket” Approach for Afib Treatment

A new study into treating atrial fibrillation by Dr. Francis Marchlinski and colleagues found that patient’s self-monitoring their cardiac rhythms through a smartphone app may be a promising new alternative to taking blood-thinning medication.

The study had patients monitor their pulse twice daily for 18-months, and only had patients take blood-thinners when experiencing, or were suspected of experiencing atrial fibrillation.  94% of study participants maintained their self-monitoring treatment in lieu of anticoagulant medications.  If you would like to learn more about the study’s research process and results, click here.

Dr. Francis Marchlinski, Director of Electrophysiology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, wanted to find a non-pharmaceutical way to regulate atrial fibrillation (Afib) because current medications used to treat this condition, while effective, can have problematic side effects.

A patient in Afib experiences heart-arrhythmias, which slow the flow of blood through the heart and increases the risk of blood clots and stroke.  The go-to method for reducing risks brought on by Afib has been anticoagulants—blood-thinning medications— but long-term usage of these drugs can put patients at a higher risk of bleeding that can turn something as simple as a paper-cut into a much larger problem.

“If you don’t need [blood-thinning medications] continuously, it’s reasonable to try to avoid them as much as possible,” Marchlinski said.

Of the 100 research participants, nine used a portable device to check their cardiac rhythms.  Self-monitoring devices are becoming a more widely-available option when treating cardiac arrhythmias by helping to keep recurring emergency room visits low and giving peace of mind to users.

Although, Marchlinski’s “as-needed” approach when taking blood-thinning medications isn’t for all atrial fibrillation patients.

“This potential strategy for intermittent use is only intended for patients with electrocardiogram-demonstrated control of atrial fibrillation, who have undergone an extended period of monitoring, and who are avid pulse-takers that can recognize their atrial fibrillation if it occurs… In other words, it’s a very select group of highly motivated patients,” Marchlinski said.

More research into the use of self-monitoring for atrial fibrillation must be conducted before being considered a widely accepted treatment option for Afib patients, but Marchlinski’s pilot study show promising results.

Please consult your physician before making any changes to your current medication and healthcare routines.

Adapted from U.S. News & World Report

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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
Check_mark_23x20_02
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
Check_mark_23x20_02
Check_mark_23x20_02
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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