Into the Heart of the Alps

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Yowza Yowza! 1.5 Years AFib-Free!

May 13 marks the 1.5-year anniversary of my ablation and becoming AFib-free. Maybe I’ll climb “my little mountain” across the street to celebrate.

So many thanks to Dr. Marrouche and the CARMA Center team who gave me my youth back.

The Diagnosed Incidence of AFib is Increasing *

Mt. Van Cott, Salt Lake City
Top row is AFib rhythm; bottom row is Normal Sinus Rhythm.

One thing I learned from my research before the ablation was that everyone who has Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) experiences it differently. I was in AFib 24/7 for over 30 years – my symptoms (rapid irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath) were my “normal”. I only really noticed them when the symptoms got extreme due to exercise or air pollution days, or when I got dizzy.

Many people go in and out of AFib, some experiencing a few-minute episode once a year, while others experience several-hour episodes every day or so, while others are in it for a few days and then out of it for a long time again. From what other patients have shared with me, the emotional wear-and-tear and physical discomfort of going in and out AFib, often with the same symptoms I had, is very scary and debilitating.

Some people don’t even know they have AFib, as they either have no symptoms or they dismiss them as insignificant or unexplained (like I did thinking I didn’t know how to count my pulse). The CARMA Center has been conducting AFib screenings around the West. Based on simple EKG readings, they have found people with undiagnosed AFib at virtually every screening.

Why does this all matter? For people in AFib, their atrium is not beating properly (it’s fibrillating), potentially causing blood to pool in the heart, potentially causing blood clots, potentially causing stroke. People who have been diagnosed with AFib can take medications to manage the risk of stroke, but those medications can also pose risks of adverse side effects. Those with undiagnosed AFib don’t even know they have a significantly increased risk of stroke and can’t do anything about it.

So, take your pulse every now and then just to make sure it’s in normal rhythm. Normal rhythm sounds like thwump … thwump … thwump … . AFib rhythm sounds more like thwmpthwmp … thwump … thwmpthwmpthwmp … thwump … thwump …

* Please note: I am not a doctor and do not pretend to be giving medical advice. These are my personal observations only. If you think you have AFib, go see a specialist.

Via Alpina Training Update

We’ve highlighted the Via Alpina trail meanderings on our topo maps. That makes the forthcoming adventure seem much more tangible (although I’m guessing we’ll still get lost some, which is also part of the adventure!).

This week’s training hike was a quick jaunt up Mt. Van Cott in the break between rain storms.

Mt. Van Cott, Salt Lake City Mt. Van Cott, Salt Lake City
It was harder work in the heat (more out of breath and some heart pounding) until coach Bob pulled in front to keep me moving slow and steady. Ended up at the top with plenty of breath to spare.

Fellow AFib Survivors – send me your story and we’ll add it to the AFib Survivors website that hosts this blog.

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