I have not been so active on my blog because we moved to a small holding (something like a very small farm)outside Bloemfontein. Busy with planting stuff, it was a nursery loooong ago and making the house and “plot” liveable.
I enjoy being afib free for more than three years and doing the things I want to do. I have a few ectopics every now and then but that I can handle. I want to put more time into my blog, but for starters here is a short video of me on our small holding.
Would you agree with me that feeling your heart going crazy in your chest makes you think about……. the big D? Death yes, but the flip side is life! Afib and TOF can be a blessing.
So what can you do with this new friend called AFIB? I believe it can inspire you to be more, do more and hope for more. Can AFIB or a CHD(congenital heart disease) give you a bigger better life? I think so and these are my reasons!
But first some background info.
Born with a CHD called Tetralogy of Fallot.
Thanks to Surgeon Alfred Blalock, Pediatric Cardiologist – Helen B. Taussig and Surgical Technician – Vivien T. Thomas (blue baby operation) that dared to push the boundaries and make medical history in 1944 (also documented in the movie: Something the Lord Made,)
I had a chance in life about 30 years later.
The lesions on my heart did lead to Afib, but I also see this as a blessing.
It’s scary but not terminal/final.
Afib scares you out of your socks but does not kill you(Can AFIB kill you?). This is very good for you if you can channel that thought and fear into something good (Arrest the thought).
Fear can be a very good motivator! Knowing how a sick and out of tune heart feels, only to have a “normal” heartbeat the next moment or day can be a very good motivator. Both AFIB and TOF are very scary.
Knowing how oxygen poor blood feels in your body, and then getting that boost of power when your heart goes into sinus rhythm, when you have a afib spel, motivates me tremendously. But is can paralyse you too.
You know there’s a “deadline”
Nobody really wants to think about it, but there is a line.
A line where your life ends – the big DEADLINE!
Afib or any serious illness makes you aware of the that LINE! The final deadline.
And any deadline forces you to work harder, faster and smarter. It propels you to live life with a passion.
You have felt that your body can malfunction and it moves you to get the best out of life.
THE VALUE OF LIFE
Afib and TOF has created in me a great respect and love for life. Where does life come from? How easy can it be taken away? If you think you have something forever, why care for it now? But if you know you have it for only a short time you value it more.
Be happy and enjoy it or them!
It makes me think of our family holidays. We all know it’s there for only a short time. So what do we do?
Swim more! Eat more! Walk more! Drink more?! Love more! Travel and see more! Get more sunburn $%*&#!!
WHY? Because we want to get every little bit of value out of that short and valuable time.
If you value something you take care of it.
I have made the resolution that AFIB and TOF are blessings in my life!
It can also be an “extra” beat from the Atria (upper chambers of the heart) or the Ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). It occurs before the normal beat. These “extra” beats can also feel like “thuds” or “forceful” beats that some people feel in their neck.
Ectopic heartbeats are very common and mostly harmless in people who have no other heart disease, but they are scary and can put some people in a panic attack( that included me for a while). Many people are totally unaware that they have an ectopic heartbeat from time to time.
According to Dr Sanjay Gupta having ectopic heartbeats is normal but feeling them is not so normal. This can be linked to people with health anxiety issues.
HOW CAN ECTOPIC HEARTBEATS BE DIAGNOSED?
Your story! for most of the part.
Yes, sometimes it is difficult to pick up the ectopic heartbeats, and a health professional only has your story to go on. An electrocardiogram, ECG or portable monitor can confirm the diagnosis, but it depends on how regular your ectopic heartbeats are.
These exams and tests which would also include a physical exam (Medline Plus) may often not show ectopic heartbeats. If your ECG is normal and there are no symptoms your doctor may say that no other tests are needed and you are OK.
This does not mean that it’s just in your head! It just means that it cannot be picked up during the examination period. Your health professional will know what to look for if there are any other serious heart or health problems.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS, WHY IS IT SO SCARY?
You feel your heartbeat and the palpitations.
It feels like your heart stops, or skips a beat.
There may be forceful or hard beats that you can even feel in your neck.
Your heart is pounding.
Or there may be no symptoms at all!
TYPES OF ECTOPIC HEARTBEATS.
Premature Atrial Contraction (PAC) which originates in the heart’s Atria (upper chambers) or,
Premature Ventricular Contraction (PVC) when the premature beat comes from the Ventricles (lower chambers) of the heart.
ECTOPIC HEARTBEATS MY STOMACH AND THE VAGUS NERV
I have experienced most of my ectopic heartbeats, if not all, when I had a full or bloated stomach. The feeling that my stomach had something to do with this extra hard beats was always there. To explain this to my doctor always felt so stupid. The way I made sense of it was the following: Because I have an enlarged atrium I thought my heart was larger than normal and because of that, when my stomach was full, I could “feel” my heartbeats.
The real reason is a bit more complex and I will do my best to try and explain it.
The vagus nerve is also called the wandering nerve, because it travels throughout the body. It actually extends from the brain to the stomach. It is also called the “mixed” nerve because signals are going in both ways. An irritated vagus nerve causes symptoms that vary widely.
How ectopic beats happen or start I will explain in another post.
When my stomach expands due to overeating or excess gas my vagus nerve comes under pressure. This sends haywire signals to my brain and heart, and causes ectopics. Usually, my ectopic heartbeats do not last very long.
Burping or passing gas/wind works wonders for me, and rescues me from my ectopic heartbeats.
Everyone is different and maybe taking extra magnesium, probiotics, chewing your food better, taking ginger capsules or just moving around and adjusting your position can help.
I am no Doctor or health professional and am only speaking out of my own experience and research. Please ask your own doctor, caregiver or health professional if you want to take any new supplement or vagus/vagal maneuver. But do ask as many questions as you can.
If this was helpful please let me know, and leave a comment.
Thoughtarrest is my way of examining and evaluating my thoughts. It is not something that I came up with but thoughtarrest is my term for it. You will agree with me that panic attacks, Generalised Anxiety Disorder(GAD) or plain anxiety can paralyze you.
This thoughtarrerst has not only helped me with my panic attacks but it’s use and understanding has had a big impact in my life.
The inspiration is from : 2 Corinthians 10:5 King James Version (KJV), Bible Gateway:
“and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”
WHY MUST YOU ARREST YOUR PANIC THOUGHT?
The Police will arrest someone for a few reason: To prevent that person from doing more harm, to investigate the person and to bring that person before a court of law.
Now why can't we do that with our panic and anxiety thoughts!
Just imagine how wonderful it will be if you could arrest your Panic thoughts before they made your life a living hell! Many of us have wasted hours, days or even months on panic and anxiety thoughts.
Here’s the deal.
Imagine the thought…… You know the normal panic stuff like: I’m having a heart attack, I’m going to faint, Do I have a dreadful disease? Why is there a lump in my throat, is it even a lump? Isn’t it something worse? Is my heart going too fast? Is it going to slow?…..
Did my heart skip a beat, is it in rhythm, when will it go out of rhythm again, what about a stroke, what type of arrhythmia is this, will I be able to handle a cardioversion or ablation, can I be cured?
Ok! enough of that, you get my drift.
These type of thoughts are horrible! and they can kill a moment, a day, event or peaceful setting.
Now just think how glorious it would be if you could make a thoughtarrest on that panic thought and first investigate it before it makes a mess in your head and life!
Do not stop breathing because you want to count your heart beats. Is it just me or do you also hold in your breath and start “feeling” and counting your heartbeats?
With AFIB, or other type of arrhythmia, some sort of panic is usually not far away.
It’s enough to deal with AFIB, but panic and anxiety just make thing worse.
How fast is it going now, am I going to make it, is it going to fast?
Sometimes the shock of a panic attack is so sudden and paralyzing that we forget to breathe, and then we start to take faster breaths and then it does not feel enough and then we take even faster gulps of air!
Rather concentrate on taking deep full breaths. If you are laying on your back you must see your stomach going up and down with every breath.
Breathe less and you go into STRESS! a panic stress.
2.Don’t fight it accept it!!
I do not say accept it as the truth, but rather bringing it closer to see what this fear is made of, and how bad it is.
My attitude was. OK panic bring it on let’s see what you’ve got.
This can be like a light you put on in a room, and see that the monster does not exist!
3.Use your Victoryvault.
Build a victory bank or victory vault and remember any victories you had over panic. Even the smallest victories can help you build this victory bank.
Quickly go to that bank and see all the times that you have overcome a panic attack.
Write it down. Sometimes you are so struck by panic and anxiety that you do not even remember that just last month you had a panic attack, and guess what… You did not die or have a heart attack.
Just a week or so ago you got a panic attack but started breathing, went for a walk, talked to somebody and the panic went away.
USE IT! if you get another panic attack.
Tense and then relax all the muscle groups, one by one, you can start from your feet up to your head or the other way around. This can take up to 20 minutes or you could just do a quick 5-10 minute exercise.
How will this help you?
Steps 1-3 can be taken in a matter of seconds. It gives you the opportunity to think about what you are thinking.
Then it’s your chance!
Do a thoughtarrest. ⇒
Do not deny or suppress the thought.
This step is similar to the, do not fight it step, mentioned previously but with this one it’s more about investigating or dismantling the thought. Look deep into what you are really fearing in the thought or symptoms you are experiencing.
Write it down, or talk about it.
When you write down your thought you “capture” it. Write down how bad it is or was. Don’t sugarcoat it! Even if the idea of writing it down scares you, write it down. It not only helps at that moment but also when you reflect on your panic and anxiety later. You may then see it was irrational.
Write down a “better” statement.
If you get thoughts of “I cannot breathe” rather write down “I feel as if I cannot breathe but I am”. Or just write down “I am breathing” although everything inside you yells “I’m not getting in enough air”. The two statements should not be too far from each other.
Unmask and expose the false thought.
Now that you have your panic attack or anxiety thought pinned down on paper you can expose it as false and not real. It may be that you still have the thought of “I cannot breath” or “I’m dying”, “I’m going crazy”, “I’m going to faint” or “I’m having a heart attack”.
Now you must evaluate them and give yourself the true facts about them!
You’re still breathing
You did not die
No! way! I’m not crazy
I did not faint – Yes it felt like that but I did not.
I did not have a heart attack(Although many people have a heart attack and still lead a normal life afterwards).
Do not give up hope! Keep on doing a few thoughtarrests and you will see that your panic thoughts start to grow weaker and even go away. Some may be more difficult to arrest but keep at it!
I find that the Word of God – The Bible gives me the hope and inspiration to go on and helps me affect an arrest on an unruly thought.
There is also two other important habits that help with killing panic and anxiety:
Be in the habit of eating healthy.
Do regular exercise.
I hope and believe that the thoughtarrest technique will help you in fighting panic and anxiety.
Do make a comment, subscribe.
Which step are you going to try first?
Which step worked for you?
You will agree with me that because atrial fibrillation is so big shock, you will do anything to try and prevent it. Diet tips to prevent afib may only be one of the guns you use to shoot down the AFIB monster, but it is a BIG gun! Here’s the deal.
The best chance you have to beat the afib dragon is……
Know as much as you can about it and then act on it.
We understand that our body is a system and everything is connected, maybe more than we think, THEREFORE!
Can you afford to ignore diet tips to prevent afib?
This post will concentrate on diet tips to prevent afib, with the understanding that your doctor, cardiologist,healthcare worker and healthy lifestyle must always be the center of your management of atrial fibrillation, and most of all.
Diet tips to prevent afib must always be seen as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
CHECK YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE. We’re not just talking about coffee! There are mixed feelings and research about coffee and it’s role as an afib trigger. Some studies say moderate coffee intake is unlikely to trigger an afib attack. The fact that most people agree on is that caffeine is a stimulant and it increases your heart rate. The influence and impact of coffee can also differ from person to person.
Many other products also contain caffeine. Very important! Read the food labels.Although I know about the diet tips to prevent afib and what caffeine can do, I made a boo boo! During a cycle training ride, I drank a caffeine-filled energy drink handed to me from a cycling friend. How bad could it be, I thought, but a day after the ride I was in afib.Rooibos tea is a wonderful alternative to drinking coffee.
AVOID PROCESSED AND FRIED FOODS. They are high in saturated fat, and that can increase the risk of heart diseases and stroke. Their nutritional value is low, and they are linked to obesity.
EAT A HEART-HEALTHY DIET. This means eating a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruits, whole grains, vegetables and limiting saturated fats.
EAT MORE COLDWATER FISH. Coldwater fish include salmon,herring, sardines, and mackerel. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids. According to studies theses, healthy fats can protect against heart arrhythmias.
LESS SALT! Hypertension and high blood pressure can contribute to afib. That is the reason why you should limit your intake of sodium. Processed foods is a big culprit! Read food labels and limit salt when cooking and at the table.
CHECK YOUR WEIGHT. We all know being overweight is not good for your heart. One of the many reasons is that it contributes to sleep apnea. This in one of the big risk factors for afib.
Obesity and high blood pressure can also increase the risk of atrial fibrillation. This is one of the most important diet tips to prevent afib. That’s not all…
NOT TO MUCH OF THE OTHER STUFF! (ALCOHOL)
Check your intake of alcohol. Moderate intake of alcohol usually does not increase the risk of afib, but binge drinking does. Many afibbers have stopped drinking alcohol, because of their personal experiences of the alcohol/afib mix. That is not the case with all afib sufferers. I enjoy light beers and red wine from time to time, but always check my intake. The combination of alcohol and dehydration, that usually results from too much alcohol intake, is very dangerous and creates the ideal situation for an afib attack.
There is a possible link between alcohol consumption and vagal tone which can play a role in afib.
The vagus is a large nerve in the neck, and increased vagal activity can lead to atrial fibrillation.
Another study by Yan Liang and others showed an increase in afib among people aged 55 and older, when there was moderate to high alcohol intake. So be careful with alcohol! Drink Rooibos tea!
DRINK ENOUGH OF THE RIGHT STUFF! Mostly water to stop dehydration. It frequently occurs when traveling
because you are out of your usual eating and drinking habit. Skipping meals usually decrease’s fluid intake. The more dangerous situation is when vomiting and diarrhea occurs. The loss of potassium and the depletion of electrolytes has an enormous effect on the functioning of your heart.
The large volume of fluid loss is not always replaced that quickly.Any person susceptible to AFIB must be very aware of this.A combination of dehydration and exercise or activity where the heart has to work harder (faster heart rate) can trigger an AFIB attack or a worse type of arrhythmia.
Sometimes dehydration is overlooked as an AFIB trigger. Keep water in your diet!
USE HEART-HEALTHY COOKING. Healthy food can become very unhealthy if you cook them the wrong way. Make more use of methods like roasting and broiling. Steam veggies for maximum flavor(I like mine crunchy).Limit butter, salt, and sugar in the cooking methods. The best part?These diet tips to prevent afib will also be good for your waist!
WHOLEGRAINS ARE WHOLESOME! They still have their outer shell, and that’s where most of the fiber and nutrients hide. Try whole-grain oatmeal for a starter, and educate yourself on what foods are wholegrain and available in your local shops.
GRAPEFRUIT AND PILLS? The powerful chemical called naringenin in grapefruit juice can interfere with the effectiveness of antiarrhythmic drugs like amiodarone (Cordarone) and dofetilide (Tikosyn). It can also affect the absorption of medication into the blood stream.
FEED YOUR BRAIN.
Not only with the most nutritious food, but also with knowledge. Prevention is the best cure! So the more you know about what to eat and what to avoid, the safer you will feel and become. Know what works for you. Alcohol and coffee intake are good examples of knowing what you can handle and what not.Talk to your doctor and ask many questions.With new research there may be new diet tips to prevent afib, so keep up to date with blogs and news on afib.
KEEP UP THE POTASSIUM! There may be an increase in the risk of arrhythmia if your potassium levels are low. It is an important nutrient for cardiac health, and allows muscles to work efficiently. Enough potassium is usually consumed with a balanced diet. The problem is excessive potassium loss, mostly from vomiting or diarrhea. There are also some other causes of potassium loss.
LOOK OUT FOR TYRAMINE. Tyramine can raise your blood pressure and bring on an afib attack. It can act as adrenaline on the heart and over-stimulate it.These are just some of the foods that have high levels of tyramine: Blue cheeses like Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Camembert. Aged cheeses like cheddar and Swiss cheese. Cured meats that include pepperoni and salami. Fermented cabbage like sauerkraut and kimchee. Certain sauces like soy and fish sauce. Yeast extract spreads such as Marmite and also broad bean pods like fava beans.
Tyramine will not be listed on food labels because it is a naturally-occurring compound.If you want to learn more speak to your doctor, dietitian or Mr Google.
AND VITAMIN K? If you are taking warfarin (Coumadin) to thin your blood you must be careful about how your intake of Vitamin K may reduce the effectiveness of warfarin. According to Greg Feld, MD, patients can keep on eating veggies and salads. They must just not make any sudden changes in their diet, and keep on talking to their doctor about it.
AVOID FOOD POISONING. OK! none of us go out and try to get food poisoning. The reason I mention it under diet tips to prevent afib is because food poisoning can quickly deplete essential nutrients. Symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and fever make you lose nutrients like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium.And therefore, during and after symptoms like these you must re-hydrate with an electrolyte solution.
If electrolyte imbalances are not rectified quickly they can affect the normal electrical activity in the heart. This can cause atrial fibrillation(AFIB).
GET MORE MAGNESIUM IN YOUR DIET! Your heart needs and loves magnesium. It is one of the electrolytes that helps the electrical functioning of the heart. If you have afib or any arrhythmia the doctor will most probably check your magnesium levels, as a standard test. If your levels are low you may even get magnesium intravenously (and it works!) Most people in America do not get in, enough magnesium. You can test your magnesium levels with three types of test. The Serum Magnesium test is the standard one but can be inaccurate. The EXAtest is the best one, but more expensive.
WHAT ABOUT MSG? MSG is, Monosodium glutamate, and is commonly added to Chinese food, soups, canned vegetables and processed meats as a flavor enhancer. It is “generally recognized as safe”and it must be listed on food labels according to the FDA.
Researchers have found no link between MSG and heart palpitations, but there have been countless anecdotal reports of a possible link.There may be short-term reactions to MSG according to researchers. Can this short term reaction put your heart into AFIB? Many people say Yes! Specific research must be undertaken on this.Cut it out of your diet, if you are unsure. If you are brave, experiment!
ASPARTAME? People prone to get afib were found to be sensitive to MSG and the artificial sweetener Aspartame in two “Lone” AFIB surveys . Dr Burkhart mentioned that both of these two chemicals excite cardiac tissue, and therefore…….
He further suggested that is would be beneficial to eliminate MSG and Aspartame from an AFIB patients diet.
DO NOT OVERINDULGE! BE KIND TO YOUR VAGUS NERVE. This vagal or vagus nerve that extends from the base of the skull to the abdomen helps regulate heart rate. Reduction in heart rate is usually the result of the activation of the vagus nerve. Overindulging in food, and specifically spicy food, as well as alcohol, can lead to the vagus nerve misfiring, and ending in arrhythmia and AFIB.Many AFIB forums are full of people talking about this vagal-afib symptoms, due to a bloated or full stomach, but it can not always be proved scientifically.My own experience is that I could not explain this vagal-afib feeling to my doctor, because. I always felt so stupid for thinking that my stomach had something to do with my heart.
The conclusion that I made (my own explanation, don’t know if it makes sense) was that because my stomach was full or bloated it touched my heart and that was why I “felt” my heart.
So far as I can recall I never went into AFIB because of a full stomach but I did experience an irregular heartbeat in many cases when my stomach was full or bloated. In this short video Dr Sanjay Gupta of York Cardiology gives valuable information about Vagal Atrial Fibrillation. Trying to understand the vagus nerve has given me new insight into my “hard heartbeats” and irregular heartbeats when I’ve had a full or bloated stomach.
YOUR COMMENTS SHARES OR LIKES
Remember to always consult your doctor about any diet changes.
Please give any comments about your own afib-diet experience, share if this post may be useful to other afibbers and like if…..well you liked the post!
In conclusion, I did not include lifestyle issues like smoking, exercise, cough medicines, prescription medicine, drugs, inhalers in this post, but may delve into it on a later stage.
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that dealing with AFIB or any palpitations is actually a type of heart arrhythmia management. People that have had some experience with AFIB know that the end of it is not always the end of it. The promise of a cardio version or even an ablation may not be the final word on your arrhythmia.
That is why journaling may be one of the best ways of heart arrhythmia management for you. And the best part? you can start it here and now!
You can actually improve your heart palpitations management by writing more about what your heart is doing, and what you are doing. On Newlifeoutlook I read a very interesting article written by Eric Patterson on how journaling can help you cope with AFIB. Thanks to his article I have yet again seen what the benefits of journaling are especially in heart arrhythmia management, and how I have applied it in my life.
Thanks to his article I have yet again seen what the benefits of journaling are especially in heart arrhythmia management, and how I have applied it in my life.
WHAT CAN JOURNALING DO FOR YOUR HEART?
The two main benefits mentioned in his featured article are very important. He mentions that a journal (this can be your own website or blog) can help with data collection and stress reduction.
How can you actually use this?
My own experience with heart arrhythmia management is that I wrote down how I felt, what my pulse was, what I ate or drank and what I have done that day. I did not keep a daily journal, but I did keep it most of the “out off sinus” times.
With journaling, you will be able to tell your doctor what really happened, and stop “thinking” what happened and why. It is like your own personal heart arrhythmia management checklist.
Some of the most important things to jot down is the following:
HOW AND WHEN
How and when did your heart go out of rhythm? This is not just important for future correction of “trigger habits” but also of utmost importance to your doctor. This information will help him make the decision to cardiovert immediately or not.
The shorter the time span that your heart has been out of rhythm the greater the possibility that the doctor can give you a cardioversion.The chance of your heart “converting” back into normal sinus rhythm is then also bigger. The other variable that the doctor must take into account is the possibility of a blood clot, this I discussed in STROKE PREVENTION.
TYPE OF EXERSICE
In my case, this has been very important. Some exercises have been documented as not being very rhythm friendly to me. I play much less squash (racquet ball) now. During a normal squash came I noticed that my heartbeat went up to 190 beats per minute like a flash! With cycling, it took me a while to get it up to about 160 b/m and it did not go up much more than that. Running was sort of in the middle of these two sports.
The nature fo squash is just that you chase a ball, start and stop, and most of the times (well for me) I do no not think about what I’m doing to my heart, but just chase the ball.
Exercise is very important for any heart! Find an exercise that you enjoy, that is heart friendly.
SLEEP ….. zzzzzzzz
Track how many hours of sleep you have had the night before. The type of sleep that you had is also very important. Lack of sleep can have an influence on the heartbeat rate and rhythm of your heart.
Alcohol is a stimulant! The impact that alcohol has on every person will differ. Most people drink alcohol for the stimulant effect, but it is actually classified as a depressant. Note the type of alcohol that you drink and the volume
Note the type of alcohol that you drink and the volume, in your journal (if you can remember?!*%$). It is also important to know the alcohol content or percentage in each type of drink.
I drink light beer and red wine, but some afibbers have to stay away from alcohol altogether.
There is a big debate about coffee and how it can or might affect your afib. Do your own research with your journal at your side. You can even go so far as to mention how big the scoop on your teaspoon was.
Coffee is only one place where caffeine lives. When writing your journal, and having to take note of what contains caffeine you make be surprised. Look for the phrases “added caffeine” , “energy drink”, “psyched up” or “wired” and look at the amount of caffeine added.
If you are an afibber be careful of caffeine! It is the most commonly used drug in the world today, according to MNT (Medical News Today).
Where you stressed out when your heart went out of rhythm, or was it just after a stressful period that your ticker went out. Stress can be an important factor in your heart arrhythmia management journey.
The benefit of a journal is that it can help paint a better picture of what your stress levels were during a specific time. This is not always that easy to understand if you just have to rely on vague memories.
Something I have found is that during a specific stressful time in my life, I really feel that pressure and can pin that down in a journal. Just thinking back and seeing a positive outcome, the stress does not seem that bad. You have the benefit of looking into your mind during that “stress time” if you put it down in words.
With the thoughtarrest technique, you must also write down your emotions and fears.
PEOPLE, PLACES AND SITUATIONS
Need I say anything about this? Writing down your PPS palpitation triggers may not be news to you, but it is good to get it out!
TIME OF DAY
My heart rhythm has never gone out while I was sleeping (and most of the times during the day). I know of other people that mostly go out of sinus (NSR) while they are sleeping.
This is important information that your doctor must know, to try and establish what your triggers are. That’s not all……
This is the “soft” side of heart arrhythmia management that is not so easy to explain or measure. You can see writing as your own stress release therapy. The stress reduction part of writing your journal is aimed at emotional and confidence building.
Some of the reasons I believe writing your journal will reduce your stress levels are:
THE BEST PART!
YOU ARE STILL ALIVE!
Your journal confirms that your doctor was right. Afib is not life threatening, but you have to take care of yourself and monitor what your heart is doing. Celebrate life by writing down how good it feels to be alive, even if you may still be in afib…..there is hope!
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?
You can describe to yourself what really happened during an afib attack. Try to make sense of how things happened. Where you scared, relaxed agitated or indifferent about the whole AF thing.
WHAT SHOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
We all know that feeling. Man, I should not have done that! Sometimes you are guilty. Take stock of what and why you drank too much coffee, over trained or stressed too much. Identify what could have been a trigger and figure out what you are going to do differently.
GETTING IT OUT!!!!
This one is wonderful and liberating. Only afibbers know how it feels when the life gets sucked out of you, that kryptonite that takes away supermans power. Yes, that’s how it feels. It’s good to get it out and onto paper, sometimes scary. It also seems more real when it is on paper or on a computer screen.
It may help you to communicate your symptoms and feelings better to a family member or doctor. This is very important with heart arrhythmia management. We have all heard or used explanations like, flopping fish in my chest, racing heart, a hard heart beat, changing gears heart, it beats and then when the next beat must be there it’s not, skipping beats.
And that is just the heart! We have not even begun to describe the symptoms yet. In many cases, your doctor must make a call on how to treat you based on your description of your heartbeat and your symptoms. He may not have any hard and fast data to work from. Write your own STORY ON A BLOG
If you have paroxysmal afib (occurs sometimes and then stops by itself) or ectopic heartbeats (extra or skipped heartbeats) it may take your doctor a while to pick them up.
READY FOR TOMMOROW?
Plan for tomorrow by thinking how to cope with a possible skipped heartbeat, or symptoms that you experience from being in afib, or getting an afib attack. Try and take the shock and panic away from a sudden skipped beat.
TIME TO REFLECT
Be thankful that the thing you thought was a fatal heart attack, was a treatable thing like afib. Concentrate on all the positives and opportunities. Doctors may sometimes only give you the worst case scenario, it is their work to tell you what can go wrong.
Do we really understand how important our mornings are? Do we know that it sets us up for the whole day? This can be a good or bad setup. You do not have to be a victim of your mornings, take charge! A quick morning routine can and will make a huge difference in your day and life. The tone that YOU! set first thing in the morning will be with you most of the day. So it does not have to be a long thing, and you can make your own groove.
YOUR GOODNIGHT ATTITUDE
Your morning begins with the attitude and fears that you take to bed with you.
Train your mind in thinking positive thoughts before you go to sleep, and the morning will be easier to face. What’s the real story?
YOU WAKE UP THE WAY YOU WENT TO SLEEP.
My own experience is that if I go to sleep excited about something I can wake up so easy. If I go to sleep unsure or full of fear the morning can turn into a nightmare. Think about what you are thinking about before you go to sleep. This quick morning routine may even start before you go to sleep. The best part?
YOU CAN DECIDE HOW YOU WAKE UP
Try this a few times. Is it working for you? It is something you must consciously think about before you go to sleep.
Hal Elrod wrote a wonderful book about what a good morning routine can do for your life, it is: The MIRACLE MORNING
AN NEW MORNING HAS BEEN GRANTED TO YOU! TAKE IT.
DON’T THINK! (REALLY)JUST STAND UP – WAKE UP
YOUR EYES MAY STILL BE CLOSED BUT TAKE A GULP OF WATER
I PRAY, I THINK IT’S THE BEST WAY, BUT YOU DO YOUR OWN FOCUS/MEDITATION/CONCENTRATION/MOBILISATION
EXERCISE. NEED I SAY MORE.
EAT BREAKFAST, SOME PEOPLE GO FOR A SMOOTHIE OR SHAKE
I READ THE BIBLE, WHAT CAN YOU READ THAT GIVES YOU HOPE?
I’M CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON – COME HERE NEWSPAPER
MY INFOGRAPHIC ABOUT MY QUICK MORNING ROUTINE.
Hal Elrod wrote a wonderful book about what a good morning routine can do for your life, it is: The MIRACLE MORNING
The health benefits of rooibos tea may not be known to many people, but it may be one of the healthiest drinks around.
A few of the reasons why I and my family use rooibos tea are:
It is totally CAFFEINE FREE, no it is not some sort of decaffeinated version of rooibos, the real “thing” is NATURALLY CAFFEINE FREE! This may be one of the most important health benefits of “redbush” tea. For my afib heart, that is very good news. I know that the jury is still out about if too much coffee can trigger an afib attack, maybe or maybe not. With “Redbush” you are certain – there’s no caffeine. I drink coffee daily, but also enjoy the benefits of “redbush tea” a few times a day -STRESS AND CAFFEINE FREE. Are you worried about taking in too much caffeine? Try ROOIBOS TEA
IT IS NATURAL. No colourants, preservatives or additives. It is so good they do not have to add anything. For convenience, they package it in a bag and you can use it any time any place. You just need a cup.
It is full of ANTIOXIDANTS. The defence of our body starts with the fighting off free radicals. Antioxidants mostly come from fresh fruits and vegetables, but also from this wonder “TEA”. Antioxidants inhibit the oxidation of other molecules.
These are only a few benefits of rooibos tea, and I have made an Infographic with a few more benefits of rooibos tea.
If you want to know more about this wonderful tea you can visit these pages: Rooibos Council or Annique
If you have never heard of this tea you have to try it today!
HOW TO DRINK ROOIBOS TO GET THE HEALTH BENEFITS? ⇒
Boil the water.
Pour the water in a cup.
Put in your favorite brand of pure rooibos tea.
Leave it for 3-4 minutes.
Take out the tea bag (U can use it for many things – great story for another day)
Add sugar, honey or any sweetener and milk if you want to.
THERE IS NO SPECIAL METHOD!
On my AFIB RESOURCE PAGE, there are links to buy Rooibos, if you want to reap the benefits of this “herbal” tea today, but there are many other brands and places to buy Rooibos tea and other related products (eg. Skincare).
CAN ATRIAL FIBRILLATION KILL YOU? WHAT YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT HEART ARRHYTHMIA STROKE PREVENTION
The first time I experienced an AFIB attack, I thought that I was going to die of AFIB, but I knew nothing about heart arrhythmia stroke prevention or any of the side effects of Afib.
Afib has attacked me in different ways during the years. I must say that these episodes have become less violent/severe for me and for the past three years nearly absent. Everyone could experience an afib attack differently, the reasons why my episodes have changed during the past 20 years include:
1. Change in medicine that I have used
2. My level of fitness
3. My level of stress during the attack, or during that preceding week and month.
4. Food or alcohol that I consumed that day or the previous day.
5. The activity (sometimes sport) I was taking part in.
Mostly the attacks have been less severe because I have had an ablation and because of the drugs that I use now.
The main thing is that in the beginning the doctors did not really know how to treat me and the attacks were bad! I mean stuff like passing out and a heart rate going over 200 beats per minute.
HEART ARRHYTHMIA IS NOT THE END!
I remember one episode where I was at work and suddenly my heart just went crazy. I did not know very much about Afib then and I thought “this could be the end”. A co-worker rushed me to hospital in her car because they did not want to wait for the ambulance and (the scary thing for them) they could see my heart beating in my chest.
When experiencing this for the first time I can understand that you may think “how will I survive this thing”. It was here that I started my heart arrhythmia stroke prevention journey.
Fortunately, you can find courage in the fact that I have had AFIB for more than 20 years, and have lead a normal life , like many other afib sufferers.There have been good times and bad times, but the very good news is that AFIB itself will not kill you, but you must equip yourself with heart arrhythmia stroke prevention knowledge .
The bad news is that AFIB is not good for you and that it must not be left untreated. It is important to know more about heart arrhythmia stroke prevention. If AFIB is left untreated it can be very bad for your health and yes then it’s side effects can kill you.
The most serious risks from Afib are:
ADDITIONAL HEART RHYTHM PROBLEMS
INCONSISTENT BLOOD SUPPLY
But the main and most serious problem is the risk of stroke.
In short a stroke is a brain attack, and happens when the blood supply to a part of your brain is cut off, according to STROKE.ORG .
This can happen if you have afib, because the upper chambers of your heart (atria) do not contract properly, they only quiver. Without proper contractions of the atria (two upper chambers of your heart) some blood may remain in them and pool.
If your blood gets the opportunity to pool it can clot.
If a blood clot formed in your atria (upper heart chambers) is pumped out of the heart into the brain it can block the blood supply to a part of the brain and cause a stroke according to HEART.ORG.
Knowing this is one of the fundamentals of heart arrhythmia stroke prevention and management.
Atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of stroke by 5(five).
If you have afib, how can u prevent a stroke?
1. The best option is to try and cure the afib first.
2. Know what your CHADS-VAS score is:
C- Congestive Heart Failure
A- Age 75 and older
D- Diabetes Mellitus
S- Stroke, Tia or Te
V- Vascular Disease
A- Age 65 to74
S- Sex Category
Check your own score at: YOUR CHADSVASC SCORE, but do consult your own doctor or cardiologist because there may be some patient-specific considerations that must be taken into account.
3. Use anticoagulants, like warfarin, or new/novel oral anticoagulants (NOAC’s), like dabigatran(Pradaxa), apixaban and rivaroxaban as prescribed by your doctor to keep your INR at the right level.
The use of anticoagulants is one of the main pillars of heart arrhythmia stroke prevention.
There is an interesting study that suggests that warfarin may not be the best choice for Asian patients, and that they would rather benefit from using NOAC’s
The main difference between “old” anticoagulants like warfarin and the new oral anticoagulants (NOAC’s) is that you do not have to test your INR that regularly. Another difference is that the NOAC’s do not interact with other medicines and food that much.
Do remember that warfarin has been used for decades, and therefore, it is known what it can do and also what it’s side effects are. The NOAC’s are new kids on the block and all the side effects are not known yet.
Old and new anticoagulants are mentioned above, but for many reasons like:
The risk of bleeding
Trouble maintaining a normal INR
Certain foods that contain vitamin K that must be limited
Concerns about the cost of medication, and some other reasons
Anticoagulants may not be the best option for some people.
The good news is that anticoagulants do not have to be your alpha and omega because there are other procedures available to stop a stroke.
There is a small ear-shaped sac, in the muscle wall of the left atrium and it is called the left atrial appendage (LAA). If a patient is in atrial fibrillation the impulses are fast and chaotic, and that means that the atria (top chambers of the heart) cannot effectively squeeze the blood into the ventricles.
Blood that collects in this LAA can form clots. If these clots in the LAA is then pumped out of the heart they can cause a stroke, usually in the brain where it can be called a brain attack or, better known as a stroke.
With enough heart arrhythmia stroke prevention knowledge, a clot can be stopped from forming.
To stop this clot from forming your doctor may recommend a procedure to seal off your left atrial appendage (LAA). For more information go to Appendage Closure, or see list below:
A. The WATCHMAN Device. It is a parachute-shaped device and is self-expanding that closes off the LAA. It is implanted percutaneously (through the skin) in an electrophysiology (EP) lab. The procedure does not require surgery but general anesthesia may be used to do the procedure. A catheter sheath into a vein near the groin is used to get to the opening of the LAA. It the seals off the LAA. Usually used in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, and the patient must use warfarin for at least 45 days after implantation.
B. The LARIAT procedure. With this procedure a device is used to lasso, or place a stitch loop around the left atrial appendage (LAA) so that it is closed off. Unlike the WATCHMAN you do not have to take warfarin after the LARIAT procedure. Watch a short video: LARIAT PROCEDURE
C. Surgical removal. This is usually done when other cardiac procedures are done like the maze procedure or mital valve surgery.
D. Amplatzer CardiacPlug. This device is inserted into the opening of the LAA. It seals off the left atrial appendage (LAA).
4. Stay fit by doing regular physical activities.
5. Enjoy a heart-healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats.
6. Keep high blood pressure under control. If you have high blood pressure, examine your lifestyle, speak to your doctor and do your best to control it.
7. Avoid excessive use of alcohol and caffeine. The term “holiday heart” reveres to your heart rhythm going out due to the excessive use of alcohol and binge drinking.
Drinking coffee is not the only way that you take in caffeine, although some research suggests that drinking coffee may not have such a big influence on triggering afib. Every person will differ in this case because I believe that types of coffee, frequency of drinking, and how you drink your coffee will differ very much.
For me the problem was using an energy drink with caffeine in it. I usually take very good care of what I drink, but in this case, I failed the test and was admitted to hospital two days later, with afib. I was on a 60km mountain bike training ride and drank an energy drink of someone else, because I did not have my own that day. So please read the labels on energy drinks or supplements.
Be very aware of any stimulants that you take because they usually increase your heart rate and have many other side effects. Nearly all asthma medications have stimulants in them, and some, pain killers, cough medicines and other medicines also. Nicotine is also a stimulant.
8. Do not smoke, it is bad for everyone – enough said.
9. Control your cholesterol.
10. Control your weight.
11. Control your blood sugar.
Heart arrhythmia stroke prevention knowledge can save your life.
Many if not most of the above-mentioned factors can be controlled. Because many of these factors and actions are easy to control we tend not to do them. In The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson talks about the effectiveness of mastering the mundane. This may mean using only one sugar and not two, exercising every day and not just once a week, choosing broccoli over chips, water over alcohol/coffee, and many other daily choices and then keeping yourself accountable.
One of the best ways that I control most of these factors is by keeping, enjoying and controlling my mornings, and to put myself on the right track every day, I go thru the following routine every (or nearly) every morning in the following order.
My Morning Start-Up for Health:
1. Drink a glass of water
3. Exercise, nearly always a few sit-ups and maybe pushups, usually not longer than 15 minutes. Sometimes when I’m not motivated I only do a few stretches.
4. Eat breakfast, at the moment, it is muesli, yoghurt, honey and cinnamon.
5. Read my bible, first good news, then nr 6 the bad/newspaper.
6. Read newspaper
7. Drink coffee, but I want to move more to Rooibos tea (I WANT TO DO A FULL BLOGPOST ABOUT THIS WONDERFULL CAFFEIN FREE TEA IN THE NEAR FUTURE, BUT GET SOME NOW THROUGH MY RESOURCE PAGE).
8. Shower, and then off to work.
Many successful people use a morning routine to start the day right, and Hal Elrod wrote a wonderful book about how to master it.
You can read more about how to create a Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod at my Afib Resource page.
But to get back to the main point, of surviving afib, and that is that stroke is the biggest problem. It is not the only possible complication that can develop out of afib but it is the main risk. The big concern is that stroke is an attack!, an attack of the brain. It is sudden and can be deadly.
Take note of heart arrhythmia stroke prevention, as well as the warning signs and symptoms of stroke. The easiest way to remember the signs is by using the F.A.S.T method as demonstrated on the Strokeassociation.org website at: STROKE WARNING SIGNS
In short STROKE WARNING SIGNS are:
F – Face drooping: Is one side of the face drooping or numb. Is the person’s smile uneven?
A – Arm weakness: Weakness or numbness in one arm. Ask the person to raise his/her arms. Is one arm drifting forward?
S – Speech difficulty: Is the person’s speech slurred? Is it hard to understand the person or is he/she unable to speak? Can the person repeat a simple sentence like “The sky is blue”
T– Time to call an emergency number, in the USA 9-1-1, Europe 112, UK and other countries 999: Call an emergency number if someone shows any of these symptoms even if the symptoms go away. Get the person to the hospital immediately, and check the time the first symptoms appeared, because it can help the doctors in the treatment procedure.
So afib may not kill you but what you don’t know about afib (blood clots and stroke) can kill you. Get enough heart arrhythmia stroke prevention facts so that you can protect yourself.