5 lifestyle changes for AFib
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is one of the most common kinds of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and can put patients with the condition at an increased risk for other heart conditions, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease (CAD), and heart attack.
Following a heart healthy lifestyle and limiting AFib triggers can reduce your symptoms and risk of heart disease.
Here are a few simple habits you can do to manage AFib.
Get enough sleep
About half of people with AFib do not sleep well because they also have the condition sleep apnea–which occurs when your breathing starts and stops repeatedly during the night. If you snore or feel like you are never rested, talk to your doctor about a sleep study to check for sleep apnea.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Limiting caffeine and alcohol can reduce symptoms or arrhythmias. Caffeine is a stimulant and is shown to speed up your heart rate. Changes in your natural heart rhythm can cause an AFib episode. Alcohol can raise your blood pressure and can also trigger an AFib episode. Binge drinking is strongly associated with episodes of AFib. For people taking blood thinner, alcohol would also make you bleed too much.
Eat a healthy diet
A diet focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is always a good idea, but here a few tips for people with AFib.
Avoid saturated fats and salts to help control your blood pressure.
Aim to eat fish two to three times a week to increase your omega-3 intake.
Be aware of your vitamin K intake as it can affect blood clot medication.
Exercise is important for your overall health, especially your heart health. Regular exercise not only helps prevent conditions that can complicate AFib, like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but is also good for your mental health.
Before starting any new fitness programs speak to your doctor to make sure the activity is safe for you. You should also ask your doctor how to handle AFib during exercise. If you get an AFib episode during a workout, stop and rest.
Reduce stress levels
Too much stress can raise your blood pressure and trigger AFib episodes. Rest and relaxation are beneficial to your body and mind. When you feel anxious, try a relaxation technique, such as deep breathing, meditation, exercise, or yoga. If your stress is overwhelming, seek out help from a therapist or support group.