Dr. Blog

I debated whether to blog about my afib because it is (a) self-indulgent, (b) off-topic, (c) boring to most people, and (d) makes me sound like I’m in the old folks’ home already. But this is my blog and blogs are about life and so I did it and I’m glad I did, for kind folks not only gave me nice wishes and good information, but interesting conversations ensued that may actually lead to something. I got email from Bill Evslin, the Hawaiian doctor-brother of my blogging friend and online author Tom Evslin. Bill is in the afib frat but because he’s a doctor, he also has good advice — or actually, smart questions. In our three-way email exchange, the amazing Evslins wondered….

Wouldn’t there be value in getting the population of fibrillation patients to share their experiences online? The disorder is mysterious in many ways and perhaps the anecdotal testimony of these patients would help focus attention on causes and possibly effective treatment or might simply inspire those who are working on the problem. Tom started the bidding with that question. Bill responded in email:

I believe the collected wisdom of the patients themselves could shed some light on factors which cause AF and methods of treatment which have helped to ameliorate the condition. It is a very frustrating condition for physicians and patients as none of our preventive or curative treatments are good enough. What makes it ripe for research is the intermittent nature of [the condition]…

I am also quite interested in anecdotes concerning the people who got better. Science generally prides itself on staying away from anecdotes, but a large number of similar stories can push scientific borders….

My suggestion is to create a simple questionnaire that could be used to tabulate certain types of results such as, do you think certain foods triggered your symptoms? And then open ended questions concerning causes and possible cures.

I came back with this:

A survey is good and needed. But I also wonder whether there is value in ongoing narrative. What if all afib patients blogged their experience with tags so the posts could be found (they also could add posts to forums or group blogs) with limited metadata (e.g., labels for causes, treatment, etc.)? The data is freeform but with some contextual analysis, someone might start to find patterns (e.g., frequent mentions of chocolate). Similarly, doctors could blog cases, showing more or less success with various treatments or discussion of causes.

The point is that there is a narrative to this ailment. Does the internet allow us to start to capture that narrative. Yes, by its nature, it is anecdotal. But so is the ailment. That’s life.

Now one problem is that some crackpot theories could end up in this pool of information — afib caused by aliens — but the internet is good at dealing with outliers. People could vote on posts, a la Digg (or its medical cousin, Pligg), to show agreement and start to swarm around shared views; posts with more links could gain more authority.

Tom says this ability for people “to concentrate information may be one of the greatest disintermediations of all.”

So what do you think? Fear not, I won’t turn this into the afib blog. But I think that a combination of survey data and narrative using the tools of the internet to bring together all this data and experience could yield new frontiers of research and inspiration for this condition and, of course, others. Please join in…..

: ALSO: Just searching on “afib” at Technorati yielded some fascinating links. This is a wonderful medical blog, which in turn led me to lots of good medical-journal articles and also to the medical Digg and to a rate-my-doctors site. Disintermediation, indeed.

  • Tim

    Glad to hear things are generally okay, Jeff.

    I say go ahead with the afib blogging. If someone doesn’t like it, he can skip the afib posts just as I learned to skip your Howard Stern posts.


  • The danger with any kind of system of medical analysis through anecdotal advice isn’t the effect it might have on the medical communtiy, but more on the layperson.

    Suppose some wackjob blogs that “out of desperation, I tried bathing in malt vinegar three times daily for a week, and it has cured my afib!” Link ranking/voting systems work for people who know about them, but think about how much traffic gets directed around through organic search. How many people will come across that entry, thinking “it’s wacky, but I’ll try anything” and actually follow some crackpot advice?

    My example is benign, but suppose if it wasn’t?

  • The great threat to all institutions whose power is derived from protected knowledge is that we’ll all get together and fix things without them. This is why the AMA, for example, would fight such a concept as a “doc in a box.”

    The same thing is happening with real estate, as you reported earlier this week.

    The nature of authority is changing before our eyes, and while there will always be a need for doctors and “experts” who’ve studied things, the truth is we’re infinitely capable of taking care of ourselves most of the time. And when we share knowledge with each other, well, there’s not much we can’t do as a whole.

    You’re in my prayers, Jeff.

  • Rob

    This seems like a good idea to me. What you’re really proposing is a “medical anecdotes” website. People would enter their stories and fill out forms and set up links. They could cross link to their own blogs and to other people with the same complaints.

    Then someone medical who knows what they are doing could data-mine the anecdotes for real nuggets of information. For example, suppose a lot of afib patients mention having unusally lucid dreams and that ties back to a neurotransmitter and that leads to a treatment?

    It seems like it would almost be guaranteed that enough anecdotes would lead to valuable new insight.

    This doesn’t seem like a website that would be expensive to code or expensive to maintain. Some university could easily set it up. Hell, a single person could probably swing it if they could round up a few thousand bucks of donations. Maybe it could be financed by charging the data miners (drug companies, etc) small fees for access?

    All this idea needs is a champion.

  • About three weeks ago, I made my third trip to the hospital for atrial fibrulation. Every time I have had an episode, it has been triggered by drinking or eating something cold. The past two episodes have been triggered by eating ice cream. I only wish only just got “brain freezes” because I’m so sick of afib that I’m not swearing off ice cream as a treat — at least that’s the plan.

    Has anybody else had similar experiences? I’ve mentioned my amateur diagnosis to my cardiologist every time, but he just shrugs it off, tells me I need to lose weight and stay off caffeine, and says I may suffer from sleep apnea (I’ll be tested for that next). If anyone else out there has had afib as a result of eating or drinking something cold, I’d like to know — even though knowing may not help me find a solution.

  • Danny,
    Welcome to the frat. Sorry to see you here! ;-)
    That’s exactly the kind of sharing that may yield information. It’s not going to be the same for everyone. If I’m late or running for a train, I can feel the ticker ticking, for example. But I’ll bet there’ll be some parallels in your experience with others and that will help people avoid triggers.

    Yes, there will be wackjobs (I nicely called them outliers) and that’s why I mentioned using swarming techology to in essence eliminate them.
    I’m not suggesting for a second that this would prescribe treatment. It’s really just looking for patterns now that ubiquitous connectivity allows us to do that.

  • Jeff: Ah, the problem isn’t that this would prescribe treatment, but it certainly could describe treatment. Suppose, hypothetically, Danny’s comment above included the phrase, “and, I found that drinking a tablespoon of lime juice immediately after eating my ice cream prevented me from experiencing the afib symptoms.” Now, this in no way says “if you experience afib after eating ice cream, drink a tablespoon of lime juice” but how many people would be curious enough to at least try it?

    As Bill Engvall points out, some people just need to be protected from themselves. :-)

  • Actually, that lime juice works. Just kidding.

    But one trick that I have tried — warning, warning, crackpot alert — is to hold my breath when I feel my heart jump a beat or two. That seems to have helped keep my heart from going full force into afib sometimes — or it may just be coincidence, I don’t know. I personally don’t see the harm in sharing that kind of information, but let me be clear that I’m not offering medical advice. I’m just having a conversation.

    One other tidbit to throw out there: My maternal grandfather, my mother and two of my three brothers also have had recurring problems with afib. My cardiologist won’t seriously address whether afib can run in families, but he won’t rule it out, either.

  • I’ve been diagnosed with afib for for several years, and about a year ago stumbled (not quite literally) over the continuing cause for me: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

    As I fell asleep each night, my airway would collapse, causing my body to go into a “fit” to wake me up … this happened 20 or 30 times a night (probably way more, but we’ll never know, ’cause it’s too dangerous to test again without a CPAP in the loop), and eventually, my heart starting a-fibbing from all of the stopping and starting.

    When I was diagnosed with OSA by my ear-nose-throat doctor about a year ago, he ordered me into a sleep lap for testing to confirm the OSA. I started on CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy immediately, which means I put on a mask at night hooked to a machine which keeps my airway open at all times so I can breathe.

    Since beginning treatment with the CPAP, my GERD and a-fib have both cleared up. My ENT says I’m not the first patient he’s treated who’s seen both conditions vanish with CPAP therapy.

    My URL links to an entry on my blog talking about some of the benefits I’ve experienced. Click on the link titled “The CPAP Thread” to get the whole story of my diagnosis.

    Since posting my experiences in my blog, two of my readers have recognized symptoms in themselves, have gone to a doctor, gotten sleep tested, and been diagnosed with OSA … and CPAP therapy has helped them as well.

    I don’t think everybody with a-fib would benefit from CPAP therapy … but I strongly recommend that a-fibbers talk with their doctors about getting a sleep lab test set up, just in case.

    Hope this helps!

  • chris price

    Hi folks and thanks for your insights. I’ve had afib for about 5 years now and am currently waitng to find out if cardioversion works for me; just had the proceedure last thursday.
    I’d liketo offer you all this site which seems to give support to all you’ve been discussing:
    Check it out, and I’ll meanwhile place this blog in my afib favorites.
    Hope to speak with you all again.

  • Alan

    I think this format for anecdotal exchange is a fine idea… not unlike many other sites out there dealing with a-fib.

    I too have apnea and am currently in a-fib. The first time in 2 months! My 80 year old cardiologist insists that caffeine is the biggest trigger. I must admit that since my first documentation of the condition in May’05, each episode was preceded by ingesting some form of caffeine. Yesterday it was lots of chocolate Valentine’s hearts. But there’s also a link to adrenaline. Some momentous emotional event is almost always present and usually 24-48 hours preceding the each bout.

    My doc’s looking for pheocromeocytoma — little tumors in the adrenal glands. He’s done two MRI’s and I’m going in tomorrow for what I’m sure will lead to another. He insists that this condition takes up to two years to diagnose and that if in fact these tumors exist, their removal will be the cure for now. Remember, a-fib begets a-fib.

    I’m not too excited by the prospect of a Pulmonary Vein Ablation, but if that’s what we have to do I guess it beats a stroke.

    I’d like to share a very informative site about the condition written for the layman:


  • Good to read all this. I’m 51 now, and from age 30 on, about every five years, I’d have an a-fib episode that required an ER visit. The first two times (in the 80s) it was diagnosed as panic attacks, and of course they went away.

    I had a bad one in 1994 in England after imbibing way too much alcohol and was hospitalized. In 2000, I had another one just as I was about to host a party at my house. The party went on. The host was in the ER!

    In Sept 05, I had another one in Denver, this time as I was about to fall asleep. My hosts and my partner hustled me off to the ER, where more cardizem slowed the heart rate, and after about 11 hours I went back into normal rhythm.

    So, I didn’t expect another for another five years, but guess what…I started getting them FREQUENTLY, even after stopping coffee drinking. So I started a series of tests, showing I had a perfectly healthy heart. Hmmm. Sleep apnea testing, too. I knew I had that, and it was confirmed.

    Finally, in early January, the episodes stopped, and a followup visit with the cardiologist said just keep the cardizem on hand, and no maintenance drugs were needed.

    Of course, on 2/14, I got chocolate. And ate it. And on the night of the 15th, I had the most severe a-fib yet, this time causing me to faint.

    So now, no caffeine, no chocolate. Sigh.

    Haven’t opted for a CPAP machine yet. Or the appliance you put in your mouth.

    51 years old, 5’11, 200 pounds, reasonably healthy, but a bit too sedentary.

  • Mike Chappell

    Danny Glover,
    It was interesting for me to see your comments concerning AFIB problems after eating or drinking something cold. For me, mine have always occurred in the evening, while at rest, after drinking something cold.
    I, too, have mentioned this every time to my doctor and to the doctors at ER. They look at me like I have two heads. I am frustrated with this. It was, at least, encouraging to see that I am not losing my mind….that someone else has had this same experience.
    I am interested to know how often this occurs for you and does your AFIB pass by itself after holding your breath or coughing or do you have to go to ER for treatment? Thanks, Mike Chappell

  • One-third of all adult Americans–about 50 million people–complain about their sleep. Some sleep too little, some fitfully, and some too much. Although one-third of our lives is spent asleep, most of us don’t know much about sleep, not even our own. We don’t even know exactly why we sleep, other than–like an overnight battery recharge–sleep promotes daytime alertness. Sleep problems profoundly disturb both sleeping and waking life.

    Some useful resources to help you out from all kinds of sleep disorders :


  • Ruth

    You are suggesting folks with aFib tell their stories and share their remedies and hopeful cures. That has been done for years at afibbers.com. The 4 Archived Bulletin Boards have a great deal of helpful information which is monitored by chemists, nurses and physicians. I highly recommend it. It has changed my life since I am trying the things they suggest and having many fewer episodes. I am also considering mini-maze surgery which is a cure.
    Good luck to all…

  • Helen

    The medical Pligg site mentioned in your post has now become Dissect Medicine.

    Articles tagged with atrial fibrillation can be found at http://www.dissectmedicine.com/atrial+fibrillation/ and articles tagged with AF at:

  • Kelly Coffman

    A couple months ago my husband drank a margarita pretty quick and ended up with a brain freeze. It was almost immediate atrial fib for my husband. It took about 2 hours for him to get back into normal rythem. On May 19 at 7 he drank a sprite and proceeded to eat the remaining ice but to only get a brain freeze again. After about 3 hours his heart was still not back in normal rythem so we went to the ER and was there from 9 pm until 3 am. He too explains this to ER doctor. After giving him a pill to slow his heart rate down he never did get back into rythem while at the ER but they let him go home and told him to go to bed and if he was not better
    in the morning to come back but thank goodness he was in normal by morning. I am making him an appointment this week with cardiologist.
    He had a bout like this before in early 90’s but it was from a stomach
    virus. Which I heard is not uncommon. I will remember the lime juice
    trick and see if it works next time. Will let you know what his cardiologist
    says after our visit.

  • John Kupris

    I have had 2 episodes of Atrial Fib started by cold drinks that converted over night to a Normal pluse. The heart doctor agreed that cold drinks can start AF.

    I occasionaly get a GERD or heartburn attach that seems to cause a pulse beat to be dropped here and there that seems somehow related.

    John 64y.o.

  • Brian Powell

    I am a runner and cyclist and exercise sometimes causes AF. I have just had another overnight episode which was caused by a cold drink after running 3 miles. This is the second episode caused by cold drinks. Two 50 mg flecainide (not at the same time) usually keeps the episode below 12 hours. I am 55 and the episodes are becoming more frequent. I may be offered the ablation at some point.

  • Kurtis G. Cornish

    I have had a-fib/tachycardia for a number of years and it seemed to be getting worse. It is no longer converted by the Valsalva maneuver. I would often have bouts lasting 8-10 hours once or twice a week. However, some weeks I would go without any. It seemed that there was something that I was doing or not doing that reduced the episodes. I exercise a lot and have refused to give that up. Sometimes the exercise would stop the episodes, sometimes it would start them. I know that part of my problem is my low resting heart rate. Since I exercise it is about 42 bpm.

    I have a friend who is a cardiologist and has suggested medications. I wasn’t quite ready for that. I knew that as long as the episodes were not longer than 48-72 hrs I was not at risk for a stroke. They were just very annoying and troublesome. In one of my discussions with my friend he indicated that some of the meds used to treat a-fib were Ca channel blockers and some were sodium channel blockers. I have taken Calcium supplements for some time but not very religiously. I thought that may be the Calcium supplement was causing the A-fib so I stopped taking it. It was the worst week that I have ever had. I was in and out of a-fib 3-4 times a day. After 5 days of that I went back on the calcium supplements and increased the dose. That was three weeks ago and I have not had an episode since. It has been wonderful. I still get atrial arrhythmias (PAC’s) but they don’t convert to a-fib like they use to. They are even decreasing.

    What I came up with is 1200mg Ca supplements three times a day. If you have a tendency for iron deficiency anemia you might want to include an iron supplements since iron and calcium compete for uptake in the gut.

    I would really be interested to find out if this works for someone else also. I guess I can recommend it since this is a fairly innocuous intervention and most people my age (63 male) don’t get enough calcium. May be that is why they have a-fib?

    The thing that makes it interesting for me to play around with is that I am a cardiovascular physiologist and teach cardiovascular physiology at a medical school. May be that is the reason that I have been willing to experiment with my own situation.

  • Bill Drummond

    A Fib and I are well aquainted. 22 months 4 trips to ER, 1 stay in hospital. History 8 days at 155 bmp, ER heart rate 260 bmp. put on ‘heart slowers’ 9 times. Now on Cartazam.
    Don’t take cafeen, don’t drink cold liquids, no booze, don’t over tire. Get A Fib often. use blood cuff to check heart rate (during A Fib bloodpressure and heart rate ‘anywhere’)

    Read on line: “When you first have A Fib your scared it will kill you, after a few months ‘fibbin’ your scared it will continue for ever and you won’t die”

    A Fibs ramdom ‘happenings’ is the worst part.

    The only thing ‘I think’ helps is keeping the Cartazam dosage hight enought to keep my heart rate below 100.

  • Bud Smith

    Don’t know if this helps but have a had AFIB abut 8 years with numerous pr0blems and tring to find an answer to Sinus mode. I had a TIA
    and ended up in hoepital but it came out with no problem. My Doctor advised to increase Wafarin but my other Doctor did not beliee it necessary.
    Then a short time later had a Stroke but after a 10days in hospital came out with no noticable effects.
    Finally decided to stop taking alc0hol and caffine for 2years and went back to Sinus but off and on. Then found my AFIB occured when I took an Onsen whcih effects blood preasure and stopped this as well. I am in Sinus most of the time. Hope this helps someone.

  • Stan R

    Had my first full episode of A-fib today. I just had nose surgery to allow me to use CPAP better and had gone two sleepless nights and was extremly tired. Afib for three hours until I was returned to normal.
    I am hoping that I can now use CPAP to keep this down to a minimum.

    I have had paputations before, and I want to work on keeping my afib under control. I am 54.

    I am a saleman. Should I be able to continue a normal life

  • Peter

    I had a really bad run 3 months ago right after being diagnosed and I’m now on continued strong medication…I might have lived with it for awhile without realizing prior to that……I think the anxiety and the abrupt change in my life style after the diagnosis just made it so much worse (very symptomatic paroxysmal rather than the unnoticeable lone)

    Since then I’ve managed to stop episodes by rigorously exercising at onset. Numerous other sites suggest other tricks – depending on whether you’re vagal or adrenergic….for vagal: manouvers that affect vagal nerve – valsalva, cold ice bag on your neck, yoga breathing through a constricted throat, or exercising to wrestle the vagal tone out, etc.

  • Jules

    I was recently diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. I had one episode of AFIB in June 2006 and was put on metoprolol 12.5 mg b.i.d. with no further episodes till a month ago when I began having AFIB 3 to 4 times/day with episodes lasting up to six hours before self converting. After 3 visits to the ER in a week (with varying suggestions from ER docs) my cardiologist admitted me for one night to the hospital so I could be monitored. Metoprolol was increased to 50 mg b.i.d. Still have 3 to 4 episodes a day but duration is much shorter and heartrate slower. I hope to get my CPAP within the next two weeks and am looking forward to testing it’s possible effects on my AFIB. My first sleep study showed that I woke up 122 times during the night – and I always thought I was a champion sleeper! My titration sleep study (with a CPAP) showed I only woke 3 – 4 times that night. I felt amazingly rested the next day…..
    AFIB meds changed to atenolol 100 mg/day and this stuff gives you unbelievable fatigue!
    As far as triggers go, my log of approximately 85 episodes of AFIB over the last month shows about 2/3’s of the time it begins after eating or drinking something, doesn’t have to be cold. The other episodes occurred watching TV, working on the computer, sleeping, taking a deep breath, at work….it varies. Have researched many possibilities on the internet – cardiologists seem very reluctant to explore causes and prefer to medicate or slash/burn symptoms! In my case, I wonder if an esphophageal stricture could be part of it, as I have had occasional trouble swallowing over the last three years – feels like food gets “hung up” about the level of the diaphragm…. Could be hormonal fluctuations of perimenopause…. Could be dieting and electrolyte/mineral imbalance or a combination of all of these. I’m going to work through all of them. I will figure this out!
    Will let you know how the weather is in CPAPville….

  • nita Montgomery

    I have had recurring atrial fibrillation since age 32. I have had two runs that required over night stay in hospital. Both times, I had been intimate with my husband, and that is what brought them on. Both times I have beats on 180s in er. Both times put on Cardiazem drip to convert. It had little affect on converting my heart to normal sinus or at getting the rate below 100 bpm. I also notice during these times, that the urge to urinate was awful. I had to void very large amounts of urine continuously in the er and also once I was on in the unit. I dont know what figures with having to urinate like this, but I read somewhere that an atrial peptide was involved. I am a registered nurse and I have some working knowledge that the atrium produces a peptide that causes diuresis. Now my question is does the atrial fib produce the diuretic effect, since It only happens when I am in atrial fib, or does the over load of fluids bring on the atrial fib, causing the diuretic effect. Does anyone else seem to have the same thing happen to them when in atrial fibrillation? I am talking large amounts of urine here and not just your average void. I also notice that I have more and more episodes as they go along. I am on betapace 80mg bid for atrial fib. I have been in and out of atrial fibrillation many times and noticed that the betapace may be helping some , it is not preventing me from having atrial fibrillation entirely. I also noticed that I also am overweight and have been told that I snore very excessively at night. Could it be that I have sleep apnea? I also work various shifts and have serious family obligations. I may only get two or three hours of sleep a day. I work night shift, and I also only get little exercise. I am afraid of getting a stroke, so I do not exercise enough to bring on atrial fib as I have had it while having relations with my husband, so I am wondering if exercising brings it on or is having relations causing me to vagal down and having a vagal response, causing the episodes of atrial fibrillation. I also noted that sometimes, they just happen for no reason at all. I have a high stress job, and a very poor marital relationship, is it stress, lack of sleep, exercise, or sex that brings on atrial fib for me. I cant pin point the cause and I have been doing some research on it for a while. Losing weight did not help reduce the incidents of atrial fib for me actually, it seems to increase them. I hate the way that betapace makes you feel like your half dead all the time, no energy at all, and it does not seem to keep me from heart rates in 120s while simply walking about at work. I feel like I could crawl out of my skin sometimes I am so nervous, but nothing seems to help. Was on Paxil cr for a year, that did nothing for anxiety for me, but did cause me to gain 30 pounds i did not need. Any one else with similar experiences?

    • Jill

      My husband has a-fibs and also has to void quite a lot when in a-fib. This leads to mineral depletion which, of course, leads to electrolite imbalance. Which leads to…a-fibs! Chicken and egg thing here. So our naturopath (a cardiologist) is working on finding the cause of the mineral imbalance and, so far, the a-fibs have lessened in both frequency and intensity. We are using an amino-acid protocol plus several supplements: fish oil, magnesium, Vitamin E as gamma tocopheral, niacin, L-arginine, and nattokinese along with the basics. He also takes metropolol and cardezem (or whatever it’s called now). He now uses a C-PAP at night (which has made a huge improvement overall and also allows me to sleep. Kind of a plus!).

      I suspect that each person is individual and that there isn’t a single one-size fits all cure for this. But I also think that many of the ideas here are worth exploring.

  • Sandy Scott

    I sufferred my first episode of AFIB about two and a half years ago, followed by another episode a year and a half later. The second episode was much milder with a heart rate of around 120 versus 150 in the first incident. Another year passed, and the other morning, I took a sip of cold OJ, and went into mild AFIB – pulse in the 80s, and it lasted about 4 hours. This evening, I took a spoonful of cold applesauce, and the palpitations started which was the catalyst for a GOOGLE search regarding cold food/drink causing an AFIB episode. It led me to this BLOG. I am an elite class older athlete (67), and one of the top cyclists in the country in my age group. My resting heart rate is a mere 42. I cycle 300 plus miles a week, and my biggest fear is that AFIB will have a negative impact on my athletic competitons.

  • RC

    I have had lone Afib for about 4 yrs. Im a 46 yr old female. it got really bad about a yr ago. I know just what nita Montgomery is saying about the need to urinate ALOT. Happens to me also. My cardio says that the atrium is responsible for that. I had the ablation surgery in Dec. They went in thru my side under my arm pit. It did not work for me, but it did change the attacks so far. Now it only comes on in the evening or at night. I have been having some tests done and have found that my magnesium levels had gotten so low at one point in my life that i cannot absorb it. Magnesium slows the heart and you also need it to absorb calcium. (please read the miracle of magnesium my carolyn dean.) I have just startd on the liquid mag 3 times a day, and am am also taking some braggs natural cider vinigar as some peole dont have the acid in their stomaches to be able to absorb the minerals that we need to keep our hearts functioning properly. I also take a digestive enzye from enzymedica that works really well and seems to help keep my out of afib as long as i remember to take them with EVERY meal and dessert as well.
    I was also on beta-pace, and digoxin and then flecanide at one point. I no longer am on anything. I take flax seed oil to help thin my blood. When i do go into afib.. my doctor gave me some Ativan to take. I take 2 and half and it brings me out of it in about 45 min to an hour. My rate has been up to 200 and that is Very scary. I have been in the hospital 2 times before my surgery and once after. The last time was in Jan of 07. Its now August and havent needed to go back. My attacks seem to be less difficult. I also listen to brain sync before bed every night. I just found this site and its so helpful to see others who are going through the same thing. I think its very strange how afib affects everyone a little differently. Guess thats why its so hard to fix.

    • sabiha

      I have the same situation and I believe in alternative medicine…even right now Iam having an episode, trying to keep my mind off of
      it. I could not find the reasons yet,I take atenanol and pill in- pocket when I get into it. My father had it long time, so it is genetic. I have read a book called “Liver causes Hearth Attacts” and it makes a lot of sense. I would recommend it to any one with Afib.
      How is your progress, have you find anything new to prevent it?
      I take mag., fish oils,bitters for liver, some other supplements alternatelly.
      I would like to hear your findings….
      Take care

  • AniTa

    I was recently diagnosed as having paroxysmal Afib after approximately 18 months of occasional SVT’s I went for 6 months without any so ithought i was better, however about 8 weeks ago i started getting them again ….and approx every ten days. I am an otherwise very healthy young 56 year old ! Since they usually happen early am I have taken a valium and sat thru them and they have lasted up to 3 1/2 hours with a rapid HB of about 160-170BPM. The cardiologist told me not to worry as ‘they are not life threateing’ and suspected SVT’s. I went to ER last week as i had an episode early in the evening and wanted to find out what it was. I was also terrified. I am wondering just HOW LONG one can go in A-fib with a rapid HB before one should go to the ER. My doctor told me i have to go on flecainide. I do not want to take this drug as it is actually pro-arrythmic. ..so against his orders.. i am taking a small dose of atenolol. I really don’t trust doctors that much. They are too quick to dole out toxic drugs.
    Can anyone give me some feedback please? I am scared.

    • sabiha

      Dear Anita
      Please read my reply to RC above. My afibs are like yours and I take 25 ml. atenelol and take flecainide only when I get into a afib. I just found the site tonight and hope you still read this blog.

      Naturopath or homeopath is my choice of doctor and if you listen to your body you will understand what is suffering from….Get a blood test done for your hormones as well…you must be perimenaposal like me, unbalanced female hormones are reasons for hearth problems, liver detox is very much recommended for any health issues.

      Take care,

  • T

    I started having paroxysmal afib in my late 30s. I have had every test under the sun and am healthy a horse. No heart problems whatsoever. Thyroid great, cholesterol great, BP is normally very low, resting heart rate about 54. I am now 40 and still get it. My cardiologist is triple board certified, including in EP, and is out of Michigan–one of the top centers, along with Cleveland Clinic. A doc at Cleveland clinic indicated that she thought my afib was genetic, given my age and no other heart problems. My cardiologist is not sure–he said there are so many triggers for it. He also said that abalations often do not work and there is a mortality factor to consider. Mini-maze looks like my best bet, but this has not been done very long and we don’t know what the long term effects are. If I was 80, it would be one thing, but I am only 40. Those procedures are actually damaging your heart from what I understand. They create scar tissue through radiofrequencies that inhibit the bad impulses from getting through. If it doesn’t work, they have to do it again. But, over time, if there is too much scar tissue (which was created through the procedure), my understanding is that you’re just out of luck then. A non-damaged heart is now damaged. I take only 50 mg. of atenolol per day. My doc says this does not rid of fib, but should help keep the rate down when you get it. He is against blood thinners, indicating that for someone like me, they do more toxic harm than good. My chance of a stroke is very low because I have no other indications and, when I do get fib, I always convert on my own within 48 hours. I am a doctor, too, but not a MD. My fib seems to be vagal. I either wake up with it; or, the few times I have gotten it during the day, it was when sitting or eating. I eat very little on purpose and am very thin, no sleep apnea, etc. Triggers for me include stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep. I’ve found in my research that many who are like this tend to be Type A, overachiever type of folks. Thus, it is not uncommon to have a lot of stress or sleepless nights due to work. I have not heard the cold water one, but I will attend to it. I drink over a gallon of water per day and take about 20 vitamins a day. I, too, take a ton of calcium and magnesium and also CoQ10, which is supposed to be a natural antirhythmic. I’ll do a baby aspirin, but not blood thinners. I have read that beta blockers, such as atenolol, actually increase chance of fib with vagal folks like me. Anyone else hear that? I will ask my cardiologist the next time we talk. Also, I get extra beats now and again. This is normal. However, in my case, my doctor said that this triggers fib for me. One of them gets “away” and starts a fib episode. This blog has been helpful, I look forward to comments.

    • Paul Schuster

      Careful drinking too much water, you can drive your sodium blood levels way down and cause the problem your trying to stop. I ended up in the ER one time from drinking too much water. Read my post on AFIB and Low pressure weather fronts posted under Paul Schuster, today

  • AniTa

    Hi T..I enjoyed reading your comment. Lik you, i have always been very healthy, my weight is excellent and my eating habits and exercise too. I want to travel and possibly reclocate in Mexico or even South America but i am concerned about my condition. I had all my tests done. Good thyroid, cholesterol, blood, echo….everything good! I am a worrier, and recently have been on a downslide financially which of course is a trigger..I believe stress has caused all of this. I take coQ10, Hawthorn, magnesium (pure calm) vitamin B, alpha lipoic, and Lcarnitine as well as fish oil and vitamin E. When i saw my cardiologist in Janauary he wanted to put me on flecainide which is a very toxic ‘pro-arrythmic’ drug. I will not take this and have since changed docs but still waiting for appointment with new doc. It seems they all want to use drugs..I can barely tolerate atenolol because even at 6 1/2 mg my pulse comes down to 54…which is unbearable for me ..it makes me tired and besides..my normal pulse runs 72-80. I have resorted to taking 6 1/2 mg every other day along with aspirin. Any feedback is welcome. Personally i feel depressed and scared that my life will be cut short. I still have so many things i want to do!!

  • Terry

    I started experiencing a-fib in March 2006. I didn’t know what it was. I have no idea what would trigger it. I was already off caffeine. My heart would often flutter for 6-7 hrs at a time. Everytime it would start, it seemed like walking would help, so I would walk. On the last Sunday in April 2006, during church in the choir I was trying to sing and went into a-fib. After the service, one thing led to another…the church medic team wheeled me back into their treatment room and called an ambulance. I spent the next few hrs in the hospital. I was put on cardizem and rhythmol. When I saw the cardiologist the following week, he said I probably had both a-fib and a-flutter. He kept having to increase the rhythmol dosage. He said I could 1)stay on medicine if that kept everything under control or 2)consider a card. cath ablation. He gave me plenty of time to think about it. By Jan. 2007, I was having lots of episodes. I was coming home from work exhausted. I opted for the ablation. They added coumadin to my medicine diet. (I was already on Nexium and Zyrtec plus a multi-vitamin and various supplements, incl. Co-Q 10.) I had my ablation at Wake Forest Med. Center (NC) in July 2007. It ended all the a-flutter but I still had some a-fib. My dr. stopped the rythmol and started me on flecainide 100 mg. 2x/day This helped a lot. At least I was able to start walking again, although it took me 3 mths to regain my strength. Plus I gained 10 lbs. I was already overweight. I didn’t need anymore but I hadn’t been able to exercise. Although I basically had a life back, the a-fib still didn’t stop completely, even after the dr. increased the flecainide to 150 mg 2x/day. I had another ablation 4 1/2 wks ago. The 1st 2 wks were great…no a-fib. The last 2 wks have been strange. I’ve had lots of episodes at work (M-Th) and basically nothing on the weekends (F-S-S). The only thing I can figure out now is that my a-fib is brought on by stress. I can’t really afford to quit work but I sure do enjoy those weekends without any a-fib! I haven’t been back to my dr. for a follow-up yet….but I will ask him about the stress factor. This week, I’m trying to add some walking into my schedule and taking breaks at work and walk…even when it’s just a couple of minutes. It worked well for half of today….the a-fib kicked in @noon. If anyone has any ideas about that, I would be interested in hearing them. I found it interesting about those who experienced episodes after eating certain foods. It seems like now, if I eat too much, the a-fib kicks in. But I think stress is the main culprit.

    I would also advise anyone who is having an ablation to exercise, if you can, regularly before the procedure. My recovery time after this 2nd one has been dramatically improved compared to the first one because I was walking regularly. Thanks for all who have posted. This blog has been enlightening!

  • Andrea


    My partner has had several afib episodes. His seem to be triggered by drinking. The weird part is, it can be set off by 1 or 6 drinks, but never all the time. I will keep my eye on what he eats the day of an episode though to see if your “cold food” theory can be applied to our situation.

    I’m glad I stumbled onto this site because right now we are feeling very alone with this condition. Although there doesn’t seem to be any cure it’s a small comfort to know you are not the only one.

  • barb

    I am another ice cold drink = At Fib sufferer. It has happened at least 3 times in the last 5 years. It is very infrequent, and when I would go to a cardiologist, nothing would show up. They thought I was crazy as I had never caught the actual rythm, until last night. 156 heart rate for 7 hours is not fun.
    Finding this blog has made me feel less damaged. Certainly and gratefully, not alone now. I will now stay away from slurpees, icees, fruitistas and all other icey drinks. I hope this does not progress to full blown at fib.

  • Di

    Thanks everyone for putting me at ease! I’m glad that old posts are left on here, as Danny Glover had the exact same thing as I just experienced. I just at two fudgesicles in a row, and I could feel my heart race. So I came in and used my bp cuff…sure enough….140 heart beat, and bp high, high. I don’t feel like I’m going to die now. Thanks everyone for your input.

  • Eugenia S

    I found this blog today after googling “brain freeze & a-fib”. Wow. I had an A-fib episode about a year ago that scared the tar out of me. I started seeing a cardiologist, and after 9 months without another episode, agreed to see her in 6 months. I do not want to start on drugs unless I absolutely have to, since in today’s world, that seems to be a train that’s hard to get off of. While on vacation last night, I order a Blackberry Margarita at a restarant. Let me say that I don’t drink Margaritas, because of the sugar content, and don’t like the frozen ones at all. Well, I took a sip, got one of the worst cases of ‘brain freeze” that I have ever had in my life, and within minutes starting having that funny feeling that A-fib causes. I finally told my husband, but said I did not want to go to an ER right away. We then ran some more errands, and took care of chores when we got home (horses, dogs) while I was still experiencing the A-fib.I checked my blood pressure, and it was only slightly above normal, but my pulse was 133. I went to sleep sitting up, as it was just too weird a feeling lying down. I awoke during the night and realized that the heart rhythm was normal. Since I rarely eat anything ice cold, I will avoid that in the future!

  • Paul Schuster

    I have Paraoxsysmal AFIB, which means it occurs at random times, with various triggers. It is treatable most of the time with Toprol which is a beta blocker. I keep accurate records as to date and time and the specifics of the occurrences. I have discovered that incidences of AFIB, and skipped heart beats, not well controlled with the Toprol, have their highest frequency in the fall and winter months, and the least in the summer. I can feel a pressure coming on in my chest, followed by hours or days of periods of skipped beats, followed sometimes by a full AFIB attack. Lying down increases the skipped beat occurrences during these periods, and sometimes I am unable to go to sleep. I take increased dosages of Toprol and it barely controls the attacks when I sense this pressure. I have correlated the attacks, when there is a low pressure weather front approaching and may be at a distance of 200-400 miles away. There has been research out of Norway and Sweden about low pressure cold fronts, possibly generating VLF (very low frequency) or Low Frequency magnetic waves. (200 Khz to 3500 KHZ) that penetrate buildings and the heart. This explains the seasonal variations. I would be happy to share my data and work with anyone interested. If you have Paroxsymal AFIB and feel it coming on, despite your medication, check the web for LOW PRESSURE / cold/weather fronts. These electromagnetic waves travel faster than the fronts and reach you 24-48 hours ahead of the front passing over you. In my case the skipped beats and pressure in my chest lasts until about a day after the front passes over.

  • Ruzam

    Sharing my fortunate experience to hopefully benefit others…about a year ago I was a frequent reader of this blog.
    My first AF episode was 20 years ago in my mid 30’s. It occurred every few years thereafter and would convert with rest and Diltiazem after a day or two. Then a couple of years ago the rate and duration increased greatly, with some episodes lasting over a month. The trigger was usually a cold drink. Typically when in one of the prolonged episodes there would be an irregular heart beat every 10 to 30 beats. After a meal the irregular frequency was much higher. I lost 20 lbs!
    My cardiologist is the best and tried to help by recommending stronger and regular prescriptions but I suspected the root cause was some physiological imbalance. I am active and exercise regularly (though not when in AF – a flight of stairs was all I could manage).
    I researched on the Internet and probably read hundreds of articles and blogs. The best find was “Naturopathic Medicine for a Common Condition” by Dr. Paul R. Saunders. Based on the research I started on a daily dose of supplements (Fish Oil, Multivitamin, CoQ10, Potassium Iodide, Low dose aspirin, Taurine, Magnesium, L-arginine). I greatly reduced hard liquor consumption, though still drink beer and wine regularly. I avoid cold drinks of course though still have in some social situations, but take it slow with small sips.
    It has been a year since my last episode. After starting the new regiment it took about a month for that episode to clear, and I had one short reoccurrence shortly after that. I am now healthy, and have put most of those 20 lbs back on unfortunately. I recently completed my first triathlon and am looking forward to the next. Perhaps I am not cured but have at least delayed any pharmaceutical or surgical approaches.