Comedian, actor, and television host Howie Mandel is a hilarious guy, but he does not joke around when it comes to his health. In 2009, Mandel was diagnosed with a type of irregular heartbeat called nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, or AFib. The majority of AFib cases are not caused by a heart valve problem, and this type of heart condition affected approximately 6.4 million Americans last year. AFib not caused by a heart valve problem also carries an increased risk of blood clots and stroke, even if the affected person does not have any symptoms.
“Those kinds of pieces of information are paramount to allow people to at least ask their doctors to check them for [AFib], or if they have any questions to not just be ignorant and go about their day,” Mandel told zoomdune.com. “There are 6.4 million people that are diagnosed— I would imagine that there are many more that aren’t, and aren’t doing anything about it. And I promise you, I would have been one of them had I not got checked.”
To raise awareness for AFib, Mandel partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer to promote the third year of the educational campaign “Fibs or Facts.” The interactive website tests users’ knowledge of AFib, and raises money for the National Stroke Association. For each person that tests their knowledge of AFib not caused by a heart valve problem and its associated risks, the Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer Alliance will donate $1 to the National Stroke Association, up to $30,000.
“For people that don’t have any awareness [of AFib], it’s really good for people just to be aware that this exists,” said Mandel. “When I was told that I had AFib, that didn’t even sound like English to me. Even when I was told I had it, I wasn’t going to take care of it.
“If the guy would have said I had an irregular heartbeat, if I didn’t know anything about it, I probably wouldn’t have done anything about it,” he continued. “I’m okay with being a little lightheaded and dizzy… I really am. That sounded easier to me than going to the doctor. But to find out that I could have a blood clot or I’m at five times more of a risk for a stroke is what scared me into taking care of myself.”
Mandel is one of the judges on the hit reality competition “America’s Got Talent,” which is celebrating its tenth anniversary on May 26. Rather than plug the anniversary season, however, Mandel emphasized that being healthy is of the utmost importance.
“My health comes first, my job comes second,” he insisted. “My health is taken care of due to being aware and education, which is the strongest medicine there is for anything, and obviously the strongest medicine for AFib.”
Take the “Fibs or Facts” quiz at FibsorFacts.com. Since “Fibs or Facts launched in 2013,” it has raised $35,000 for the National Stroke Association.