Vice President Dick Cheney Is Not Alone—Five Million Americans Live with Atrial Fibrillation

November 26, 2007 6:20 AM CT

Dallas, TX, November 26, 2007—Vice President Dick Cheney is not alone in having atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation, the most common irregular heartbeat, affects over five million Americans according to recent Mayo Clinic estimates. As atrial fibrillation overtakes aging Baby Boomers, the Mayo Clinic estimates that by 2050 at least sixteen million Americans will have it.

If your heart starts racing for no apparent reason, and you feel as though you may pass out, you may have atrial fibrillation. For the millions who suffer from atrial fibrillation this is a terrifying daily occurrence.

Atrial fibrillation, commonly called afib, involves rapid or irregular heartbeats or quivering of the upper chambers of the heart. Characterized by skipped heartbeats, palpitations, and lightheadedness, it is so serious that it can lead to a stroke, the #3 killer, or to congestive heart failure from overworking the heart. This lethal cardiac arrhythmia leads to 15 to 20 percent of all strokes in the United States (105,000-140,000 per year).

For Mellanie True Hills, heart health expert and author of A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life: The HEART Program for Health and Longevity, life with atrial fibrillation was terrifying, but Hills was fortunate to have a surgery that cured her afib. Thus it was only natural that she would start the American Foundation for Women’s Health and a new web site,, to help atrial fibrillation patients and their families deal with this daunting condition.

Help for Those with Atrial Fibrillation

Hills now invests her energy in speaking out about atrial fibrillation and in developing to raise awareness of this alarming problem. This web site not only informs patients and their families about atrial fibrillation symptoms, causes, risks, and treatments, but also about life-saving options such as catheter ablation and minimally-invasive surgical ablation (Mini-Maze), the heart surgery that Hills had. There is even a newsletter that highlights the latest about afib and innovative cures.

According to Hills, doctors often grossly underestimate the impact of atrial fibrillation on patients’ lives. As a former high-tech and high-stress executive, she was paralyzed with anxiety over the risk of stroke during each atrial fibrillation attack, keeping her from driving, flying or traveling far from home, from attending meetings, or from even being alone. Fear took over her life. “Being cured of atrial fibrillation gave me back my life and freedom,” she says.

“Atrial fibrillation takes such a huge physical, emotional, and financial toll that I just can’t stand by on the sidelines and watch others go through afib when I know that there are ways to manage and cure it,” Hills continues. “Our goal at is to help afib patients find answers and solutions.”

To learn more about atrial fibrillation as recently experienced by VP Dick Cheney, or to sign up for the newsletter with the latest about treating atrial fibrillation, go to To interview Mellanie True Hills about atrial fibrillation or, please contact her at