Living With Chronic Atrial Fibrillation with Non-Conventional Therapy

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One of the things I hear most often from my patients is, “I don’t want to take drugs. What are my alternatives? Are there any ways to treat atrial fibrillation with non-conventional therapy?”

When I developed chronic atrial fibrillation in the fall of 2010 I decided that I didn’t want to take drugs aka conventional (FDA approved) medicine for treatment. Conventional treatment of my cancer had gone badly. Conventional treatment of my deep vein thrombosis (DVT) had gone badly as well.

AFib is a common side effect of two of the chemotherapy regimens I took during my cancer therapy. Unfortunately, I did not know if I could live with chronic Afib without increasing other health risks such as my risk of stroke. Everyone I knew of who experienced Afib, temporary or chronic, took blood thinners like Plavix or Coumadin. I knew there were short, long-term and late stage side effects associated with these drugs that I didn’t want to risk (coumadin side effects, plavix side effects).

The question then becomes, how can I reduce my risk of stroke without causing some other health risk?

I learned that I needed to manage my risk of stroke and my heart-health in general. I get a regular heart check up and keep an eye on my “ejection-fraction.” For the record, my EF has been 45 since my first check-up in 2010.

I credit two different types of non-conventional therapy for my living with chronic atrial fibrillation. First, I credit reading about the importance of habit. I encourage you to read Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit” From my morning (moderate) exercise to supplementation (see below), to sleep, most everything health related in my life is powered by habit.

The second type of non-conventional therapy for my afib are the supplements listed below. I’ve learned that there are more than a dozen foods, nutritional supplements and lifestyle therapies that I can add to my life that will both reduce my risk of stroke as well as improve my heart health.

If you determine that you have Afib and your doctor tells you that your Afib increases your risk of stroke, ask him/her these questions:

  • What is my increased risk of stroke? From what percent to what percent?
  • If I take a blood thinner, how much will I decrease my risk of stroke? From what percent to what percent?
  • If I take a blood thinner, what short, long-term and late stage side effects do I risk?

If your doctor’s goal is improving your health and not simply prescribing pills to manage your health then I think he/she would be interested to learn about the nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle therapies linked below.

I’ve linked and excerpted information about what I do and why I do what I do. I developed chronic Afib at the age of 50. I wonder if I will be able to live a long, healthy life with this side effect caused by chemotherapy.

Do you have atrial fibrillation? Please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.


David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

Living With Atrial Fibrillation

“Atrial fibrillation, commonly referred to as AF or a-Fib, is the most commonly occurring arrhythmia, or heart rhythm problem. AF is characterized by an abnormal or irregular heart rhythm that causes a rapid heart rate. The irregular rhythm is due to abnormal electrical impulses in the atria (the upper chambers of the heart) that cause the heart to beat irregularly and too fast…

Natural Remedies and Alternate Therapies for Atrial Fibrillation

Consider Helpful Herbals and Supplements-

  • Fish Oil/polyunsaturated fatty acids:
  • Dietary fiber: 
  • Magnesium:
  • Anti-inflammatory herbal and nonherbal food sources: 

Restore an Energy-Deficient Atrium in the Heart-

  • Coenzyme Q-10: 
  • L-Carnitine:”

Consumption of fish and fish oils and decreased risk of stroke.

“Consumption of fish and fish oils was first associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease almost 50 years ago. Since then, a number of epidemiologic studies have evaluated whether their consumption is specifically associated with stroke…

A significant decrease in the risk of thrombotic stroke was observed among women who ate fish at least two times per week compared with women who ate fish less than once per month, after adjustment for age, smoking, and other cardiovascular risk factors; a nonsignificant decrease was observed among women in the highest quintile of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake…”

Which supplements reduce the risk of stroke? Which increase the risk of stroke?

“Certain supplements have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, while others may increase that risk. In addition, certain nutrients from foods may reduce the risk of stroke…

Keep in mind that there are different causes of stroke. The most common type of stroke, called ischemic stroke, occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked, either by a blood clot or plaque build-up in arteries (atherosclerosis), depriving the brain of oxygen. The second, less common, type of stroke is hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel inside the brain leaks blood or ruptures, creating pressure which damages brain cells…

Supplements that may reduce the risk of stroke: (Use the links for more details such as dose.)



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