Still Working on Detailed Posts About My Afib Story

Yes, I know it has been a long time since the previous post.  I have not abandoned this blog.  I fully intend to become more regular with news and information, but I first want to publish information about my “Afib Journey”.  I want to describe my research path and decision process for deciding to proceed with a surgical approach vs a catheter ablation approach.  Many people have had their afib cured by catheter ablation; they fell at the right point on the probability curve.  Many others have not.

I have analyzed the details of the catheter ablation process and decided that the variations were too great for my taste.  I analyzed the details of the surgical approaches, particularly the TTM/5Box (Total Thoracoscipic Maze/Five Box) offered at the Ohio State Ross Heart Hospital by Dr. John Sirak (see the BlogRoll), and concluded that the chances for a complete cure with one procedure were higher and better than for any catheter ablation.

I want to explain my research and conclusions and share the details so others may come to understand them.  I am not “selling” the 5Box nor dismissing the benefits of catheter ablations.  I want to explain what I chose, and why I chose it.  Along the way, others who read here may come to appreciate some details they did not know about and become more informed and better able to make their own decisions.

The work on writing the posts for coming days and weeks continue.

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Overview and Blog Purpose

If you want to know the topics I will be covering, check out the Overview Page.  I felt it helpful to give a broad view look over the topics I eventually will cover in some detail.  In one form or another, these are health issues I am personally dealing with or helping family members to understand treatment options for some of these.

“Getting old is dangerous for your health”

Not sure who said that, and we hear it everywhere.  As Baby Boomers age, expect to hear it a lot more.

Or:

“Life is a terminal disease.”

Repeating something I said earlier, I plan to dig deep into atrial fibrillation as I am just completing my journey of removing it from my life (I hope).  A number of the other issues are either past or current.  I will cover them all eventually, say within months.

Keep checking back (try out the RSS feed subscription if you use such).

 

 

 

 

 

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RSS Feed Subscription Added

I have installed a box on the right side to enable you to enter your email address and received email notifications of new blog entries.  I am new to WordPress and I read that no email addresses are shared or used in any way; I take this to be true.  Please let me know of any problems with this feature.

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More Sources for Information about Afib

Let’s add to our Blogroll of sites which I believe have good information for people suffering from atrial fibrillation or helping loved ones and friends with the disease.

afibbers.net: This is set up primarily for “lone” atrial fibrillation.  “Lone” means you have afib with no other heart disease or issue.  However, there is much discussion about all forms of afib.  I have found this discussion forum to be the most “scientific” with many members posting many references to scientific journal articles and books to back up their comments and suggestions.  Highly recommended.

af-ideas: This site, written by a fellow afibber, contains good background and scientific information.  Site organization is a little awkward, but it provides good information with references.

A-fibCures – Yahoo Group: One of several Yahoo Groups devoted to afib.  This requires registration to participate.  It is message based, distributed by email although you can read past messages on the Yahoo Groups web site. Requires registration with yahoo and having an ID and Password. There is a Files section on the web site which has various useful documents.  While most afib topics are discussed, many of the participants have had a surgical procedure to fix their afib.

AFIBSupport-Yahoo Group: This is the other Yahoo Group devoted to afib. This requires registration to participate. See description just above for other Yahoo Group.  While most afib topics are discussed, many of the participants have had catheter ablation to fix their afib, and this aspect is more prevalent.

StopAfibAtrialFibrillation Blog:  Associated with StopAfib, this blog provides additional information about afib and usually but not always, points to the main StopAfib web site (see Blog Roll or previous message on sites).

HealthBoards-Heart Disorders Discussion: Listed for completeness, this is one of several discussion forums devoted to Heart Disorders, including afib. It is more difuse, and I have found it sparse in scientific penetration.

There may be other sites offering good information about atrial fibrillation. Certainly this includes the sites of major heart and hospital centers. The following are just a few, and I have no comments about any of them except to say they are additional sources of information about afib.

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Studies and Statistics

In the previous post, I quoted a statistic incorrectly for recurrence of atrial fibrillation after catheter ablation, and a comment from Chuck pointed out the discrepancy.

From an article in Heartwire, on Jan 5, 2011 ( http://www.theheart.org/article/1168671.do), we read:

After a single ablation procedure, arrhythmia-free survival rates were 40%, 37%, and 29% at one, two, and five years. Most recurrences occurred within the first six months…

There is a long term phenomenon called “recurrence”, and it suggests that initial “success” can change into a return of afib later, for some people.

I do not see much speculation or theories of why this happens.  I have my own hypothesis (probably no better than a “wild guess”) about why catheter ablations fail, but will save that description for later.

I have come to learn that the world of atrial fibrillation is replete with studies and more studies.  These vary by doctor, the center sponsoring the study, or by quotes from myriad sources (like this blog) attempting to help folks by collecting and presenting information.

For now, I urge that you do extensive homework.  Find and write down statements of “success rates” for the procedures you are investigating.  Try to determine the method used to determine “success”.  Methods differ among doctors.  Ask anyone you are interviewing to describe the specific method they use to measure the success of the procedure they do.  More on this later, as this is a complex aspect of the entire atrial fibrillation arena.

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Getting Started with Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation — an arrhythmia of the heart.  Not fun.  Untreated, it can have some bad consequences.  We will start discussing atrial fibrillation, or afib as it is commonly known on the various forums and web sites which discuss it.  This has been my most recent health “adventure”.  It is the one on which I have done the most recent, and on-going research.

I cured my afib in September of 2010, and while many say that you can never cure afib, only manage its symptoms, I will describe the details of the solution approach I chose, and why I think it has “cured” my afib.  Recent research, which I will discuss in coming posts, shows that some 11% of  patients who have had catheter ablation to treat their afib, suffer a return of the disease. [Edit: with a hat tip to Chuck for correcting my 11% number, I need to modify that as the long term results of recently released analysis show a larger than expected increase of recurrence of afib. See the post on “Studies and Statistics”.]

But I want this blog to also be a reference for anyone who stops here seeking new and more information about atrial fibrillation.  When I first received a diagnosis of afib and some of the typical medications that are used, I was uninformed.  I immediately began doing research and the trail to the best sources of data was a somewhat long one.  I hope to make that search for credible sites about atrial fibrillation easier and quicker to complete.

Here are the sites I found to be most helpful in learning about and staying up to date on atrial fibrillation.  Some are forums, where you can ask questions and read about others’ adventures in seeking information, advice, and eventually a solution.  Some are useful sites from hospitals, clinics or other institutions which have useful and good programs.

Sites with good information about atrial fibrillation:

A-fib.com — A good, comprehensive site, started and maintained by someone who had a catheter ablation to cure his atrial fibrillation and who remains a supporter and researcher on the latest advanced in improvements, learnings, and advances in atrial fibrillation.  While covering all aspects of atrial fibrillation, there is a small emphasis on catheter ablations.

Stopafib.org — A good and current site for all kinds of information about atrial fibrillation. Started and maintained by another afib sufferer who had a surgical procedure to cure her afib, this site contains the latest information and news about afib, has many video interviews with doctors working in the field, and has associated blog and forum areas for added information.

More sites will be added in subsequent posts and all will be eventually included in a Blogroll  on the right side of the screen.

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More on Purpose and Launch

Launching a Blog intended to share educational and informative content seems daunting.  As an aside, learning the operating environment of WordPress adds another aspect of complexity.  But we are up for the challenge.

The end vision of this Blog is a repository of facts, observations, conclusions, and links to other resources on various aspects of disease.  Disease most prevalent in older folks.  Hence the name “Geezer Health”.  Sure, many who find useful knowledge here might not consider themselves “geezers”.  That is great.  But aspects related to younger folks will not be covered, at least in a direct way.

How to get from the “Start” to the “End Vision”, that is the question.  The answer: one post at a time.  Contrary to a “web site”, where the entire content can be written and published to the world once it is done, the Blog formats requires you to start, publish, and add to the content as time moves along.

Thus, I believe the most effective approach is to provide “Overview” and “Glimpses” of the topics early.  More detail will come later.  Plus, I will “mix” the topics over time, rather than concentrating solely on one health issue until it is “done”.

If you land here looking for afib (the typical slang for atrial fibrillation, a class of heart arrhythmia, you will find part of the story.  But I will change topics (probably weekly) to another health topic, say Prostate health, in order to have the Blog grow with something in each category.

I use Categories to organize the subject matter.  The Search box allows visitors to see if a term or topic they are interested in is on the Blog.

My goal is to provide links, resources, references to other sources about one of the Health Topics.  This is not just opinion, although it is personally based.  Further, it is NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.  I offer my conclusions based on my own circumstances and using my own decision criteria.  How you use the information is up to you.  There may be errors, but usually ones of omission rather than commission.  You must do your own homework.

Now, onto more organization of the topics.

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