A study carried out in 2001 by Kaiser Permanente concluded that the incidence of atrial fibrillation, which now affects 2.3 million Americans, will double over the next 50 years. This estimate may be conservative; a more recent study found that the incidence of atrial fibrillation has increased by 70% over the last 15 years. It is also estimated that 12 to 30 per cent of all cases of atrial fibrillation are of the lone variety. Thus it is likely that as many as 1.5 million people in Europe and North America suffer from lone atrial fibrillation. In other words, LAF is a common condition and yet it has received only scant attention from the medical community.
The fact that there is no universally effective pharmacological treatment for LAF and that it is not life-threatening has led many physicians and cardiologists to classify it as a “nuisance”. As all afibbers well know, LAF is far more than a nuisance! It is a frightening, debilitating disorder that has wrecked careers and relationships and left many of its victims with a quality of life that is worse than that experienced by heart attack survivors or patients with congestive heart failure.
I myself have been an afibber for 12 years now and, like the majority of my fellow afibbers, have received very little effective help from the medical community in dealing with my problem. A couple of years ago I decided that if anybody was going to help me it would have to be myself. So I embarked on an extensive study to find out everything I could about LAF and to come up with effective ways of dealing with it. The results of my research are presented in this book.
I decided early on that I would share the highlights with my fellow afibbers as they developed and, equally important, would provide a forum where we could all share our experiences and help each other in dealing with the condition. The Afib Bulletin Board became this forum and has been inordinately successful in meeting its mission. To date, over 7000 postings have appeared on it and the caring and commitment exhibited by its participants have been extraordinary. The Bulletin Board though is not only a shining example of a “virtual” support group that works, but it has also been an invaluable source of ideas and suggestions that have helped shape this book.
Lone Atrial Fibrillation: Towards a Cure will hopefully serve to
Above all, I hope this book will help instill a feeling of hope and solidarity in the reader. You are no longer alone in the battle with “the beast”.
I make no apologies for including my own ideas and hypotheses as to the nature and possible cure of LAF. Without such, as yet unproven, ideas there will be no progress. Some of them will no doubt be proven wrong, but this, in itself, can be valuable. As Thomas Edison said when yet another light bulb filament failed to work, “Now I know of 1000 ways that do not work.” In the end he did discover a way that worked and so shall we!
This book would not have been possible without the whole-hearted support of my wife Judi who was instrumental in seeing it come to fruition. My deep appreciation also goes to my friend Frank McCabe who originally inspired me to write this book and whose support has never wavered. Andy Auerbach, Randy Lewis, Sadja Greenwood, Mark Murphy, and Erling Waller also deserve special thanks for taking the time to put their afib experiences on paper and permitting me to share them with you.
I would like to express my gratitude to all the afibbers who took the time to participate in the LAF surveys and to the dozens of regular visitors to the Bulletin Board who shared their experiences in their battle with “the beast”. I would also like to thank the subscribers to The AFIB Report; without their support my research would not have been possible.
Hans R. Larsen
In my original introduction to the book I made the following statement: “Like the majority of my fellow afibbers, I have received very little effective help from the medical community in dealing with my problem.” Unfortunately, this statement still holds true. There seems to be no research aimed at discovering the cause of the afib epidemic or to find effective means of prevention short of drugs and invasive procedures. The availability of an effective and safe antiarrhythmic drug is still an elusive goal. New anticoagulants have come on the market to replace warfarin; however, judging by the amount of class action lawsuits claiming serious harm and even death caused by these new drugs, their safety is very much in doubt. Significant progress has been made in perfecting catheter ablation techniques, but with 5 million people or more worldwide currently suffering from afib, it is clear that ablations are not a credible solution to making even a dent in the afib epidemic. I believe it is again up to the individual afibber to find a way of eliminating or at least alleviating their condition - hence this revised edition with updates to links and correction of errors missed in the original edition. May it serve you well!
Hans R. Larsen