Health Expert Sheds Light on Stroke-Causing Heart Condition during Stroke Month (May) and National Women’s Health Week

May 1, 2008 6:20 AM CT

(DALLAS)—Anticipating American Stroke Month in May and National Women’s Health Week May 13-19, heart health expert Mellanie True Hills speaks out about her near-death experience with heart disease and her life-threatening bouts of atrial fibrillation to raise awareness about the #1 and #3 killers, heart disease and stroke.

Commonly called afib, it involves rapid or irregular heartbeats or quivering of the upper chambers of the heart. Characterized by skipped heartbeats, palpitations, and lightheadedness, atrial fibrillation is so serious that it can lead to a stroke or to congestive heart failure from overworking the heart.

The Mayo Clinic estimates that more than 5 million Americans are affected by atrial fibrillation today, and as Baby Boomers continue to age, those numbers are multiplying exponentially. The effects of atrial fibrillation are dire, leading to 15 to 20 percent of all strokes in the United States (105,000-140,000 per year).

Hills, a former high-tech and high-stress executive and author of A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life: The HEART Program for Health and Longevity, was surprised to find out that women account for 61 percent of U.S. stroke deaths. Stroke not only kills, but is also the #1 cause of permanent disability. Women with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke, especially if they are also on hormones. This doesn’t exclude the impact of atrial fibrillation on men, especially when combined with such risk factors as sleep apnea, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Many doctors know what atrial fibrillation is, says Hills, but don’t always understand how afib impacts patients’ lives. For her, like many others, life with atrial fibrillation was terrifying. The fear of driving, traveling away from home, attending meetings, or even being alone takes over as patients fear their next episode and the risk of stroke or death.

Help for Those with Atrial Fibrillation

After being cured of atrial fibrillation by the new mini-maze surgery that also eliminated her risk of stroke, it was only natural that she would start the American Foundation for Women’s Health and an atrial fibrillation patient resource, This web site helps those with afib deal with this daunting condition by understanding the symptoms, causes, risks, and treatments. also features the latest afib information and news stories, a newsletter that provides information about the latest innovative cures, and an Afib Services Locator to help atrial fibrillation patients find Electrophysiologists, Cardiothoracic Surgeons, and Atrial Fibrillation Centers that can help them. New providers are added daily and providers can find out more at “List Your Afib Services” next to the U.S. map on the home page. also sponsors the Atrial Fibrillation Blog (, an exploration of ways to deal with and wipe out afib. recently received accreditation from the Health on the Net Foundation for honoring the eight principles of the HON Code of Conduct. “ is for patients, by patients, and our goal is to help afib patients find solutions and be proactive partners with their healthcare providers,” says Hills. “Receiving the HON Code seal along with upcoming site additions will help us be among the most trusted communities for afib patients.”

For more information, visit or