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One Old Man's Atrial Fibrillation
Important -- Read this first !
AFib may be an emergency -- Consult a physician.
This page describes my AFib experience as I understand it.
I have no medicaL education.
Some of my understandings may differ from that of our doctors and may be wrong.
This report is not medical advise. It is simply one person's experience with AFib.
Each person is unique. No two AFib experiences are the same.
My story is:
(1) After five days warning, a disabling weakness upon awakening.
(2) The emergency ward, then in hospital January 27-28, 2016.
(3) The discovery of atrial fibrillation, but no certainty as to the cause of my emergency.
(4) After leaving the hospital an inflammation lab test (ESR and C/RP) showed high numbers.
I suspect this was caused by an undetermined inflamation -- the cause of my problem. (I have this test regularly because of my GCA.)
(5)Atrial flutter and, I suppose, atrial fibrillation (AFib) for three months.
(6)Continued arrythym -- missed beats and premature beats through 2016.
(7)Since January 2017, good rythym with occassional misses.
I have more than 2000 30-second ECG's using an instrument described below.
(note: "ECG" is the American usage for "EKG" -- electrocardiograph.)
Here is my understanding of what I see on these ECG's
I use a Heal Force PC-80B Easy ECG Monitor. (Google it) (The Prince 180B does not have long-time recording.)
This $100 hand-held instrument does a 30 second ECG easily by holding it against your lower, left rib.
It can also record as long as 10 hours with the leads and electrodes supplied (a cheapy "holter" monitor).
see Appendix A for details.
My hundreds of tests were not a mad compulsion but an easy one-minute habit conveniently associated with my need to pee every four hours.
My reading of 79 articles on AFib was perhaps a mad compulsion -- but instructive.
Here is a "normal" ECG (a portion of my son's, taken on the PC-80B).
My ECG's look up-side-down because I have 30-year-old lbbb (left bundle-branch block). Our interest is in the spacings (rate) and posssible indications of AFib. My Dec.22, 2016 graph shows premature atrial beats and missing beats.
The graph below is part of my AFib history. The numbers of bad heart beats is plotted over time.
Never mind the details but note these:
A dramatic change about April 4, for the better. The black line is a running average of number of flaws to dramatise this.
Fibrillation and Flutter
Flutter is caused by a circular path, fibrillation by random disorderly paths.
I do not feel either of them. Only the ECG tells me they are happening.
Here is Flutter March 1, 2016:
The Flutter has 4 or 5 neat sawtooth-shaped bumps easily seen in a missing beat.
Here is Fibrillation. See the "noisiness" of the baseline (June 25, 2016)
A ventricular beat (PVC). I've recorded 5 or 6 in a year.
Routinely in Sept. 2016, I had good rhythm before going to bed, then bad rhythm two minutes after going to bed. After 9 minutes of bed rest my good rhythym returned. Explanation?
Atrial Flutter with sawtooth-shaped bumps in each beat:
The ECG Viewer Manager computer screen showing Flutter and bad rhythm on my first continuous scan (22 minute) February 2016.
The heart rate may be displayed and this indicates times of serious arrhythmia by the instrument's confusion.
This displays a range of heart rate, an ambiguous number.
The instrument is also confused by bad connections and body movements, showing a false spike in heart rate.
A heart-rate problem (e.g. tachycardia, bradycardia) would be displayed.
A good time, good rhythym
A bad time, lots of missing beats, premature beats
On a good day the heart rate is clearly shown, except for one false peak.
Appendix A -- Two Useful AFib Instruments
Note: It is difficult to get a good recording using two hands. Beats are shown but no details.
Connection by two-hands or two close pads, as used by some monitors is not reliable.
A connection near lower, left rib ("three inches below left nipple") is imperative.
Here is a recording made over-night on the CMS 50D oximeter:
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Bibliography -- Support Groups
These and other groups as well as many articles may by found by searching the internet.
Participation in such a group may prove valuable, both for medical information and for friendly support.
-- and you should contribute your own experience. Beware of commercial conflicts: selling books, drugs, procedures, supplements and the like.
My Afib Experience forums
My Afib Experience
Atrial Fibrillation Blog
Valuable site; not a forum:
DoctorJohn Mandrola; cardiac electrophysiologist, cyclist, learner