Tips for Living with AFib

Posted on: 28 November 2016


A diagnosis of AFib (atrial fibrillation) means that you have a form of heart arrhythmia caused by electrical misfires within the atriums of the heart. The result is fluttering sensations and racing heartbeats, which can affect both your peace of mind and your stamina. Fortunately, the condition can be managed so that there is minimal impact on your daily life. The following tips can help.

Treat companion conditions

AFib symptoms can become more severe if other conditions aren't properly treated. For many, high blood pressure, diabetes, and thyroid conditions go hand-in-hand with an AFib diagnosis. If this is your situation, you can help lessen the AFib symptoms by following through on your prescribed treatment plans for the companion conditions. This means following dietary restrictions and taking medications as directed by your doctor.

Skip common triggers

Certain behaviors can trigger an AFib episode. These include consumption of too much alcohol or caffeine, tobacco use, use of stimulants, and missing sleep. It's best to abstain from the common triggers, but, if you must partake, do so with moderation so that you are less likely to aggravate your condition.

Continue to exercise

It's tempting to give up exercise since exertion can lead to serious fatigue or even an AFib episode. Unfortunately, the temporary relief of a sedentary lifestyle is far outweighed by the long term effects. Instead, work with your medical professional to develop a low-impact exercise routine that doesn't over-exert your heart but still provides you with cardiovascular benefits. Walking, yoga, and swimming are a few options that tend to work well for those with AFib. It's important that you consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise, since you need to make sure to approach it in a manner that doesn't aggravate your AFib.

Change up your diet

A healthy diet will increase overall heart health. Although this won't cure AFib, it can result in fewer or less intense episodes. Proper diet will also help you avoid many of the companion health conditions that can complicate your AFib. Plenty of vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins, with a moderate amount of whole grains, is the best way to eat for overall heart health. Avoid added sugar, high-sodium foods, and fats. You can work with a dietitian or your doctor to develop an eating plan that leaves you feeling satisfied without any feelings of deprivation.

For more help, talk with a heart doctor at hospitals like Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital.