Many individuals confuse atrial fibrillation and anxiety due to the heart palpitations both conditions present. However, there seems to be a link between anxiety and AFib. This means if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may develop heart conditions. So, can atrial fibrillation be caused by anxiety? Let’s discuss anxiety and AFib in detail in this blog.
Can Anxiety Cause Atrial Fibrillation?
Anxiety can bring forth physical symptoms, which may have an effect on heart health. According to research, anxiety is connected to systemic inflammation as well as atypical blood clotting, which increases the possibility of cardiovascular issues. In addition, anxiety leads to an overactive sympathetic nervous system, triggering the fight-or-flight response that allows the body to react to possible threats. Hence, an overactive sympathetic nervous system can increase the chemical known as catecholamine, which functions as a hormone and neurotransmitter in the body. Gradually, increased levels of catecholamine trigger stress cardiomyopathy —- which weakens the heart muscle as a result of intense physical and emotional stress.
All the changes that may occur due to anxiety give way to atrial fibrillation to develop. In addition, people with anxiety disorders tend to live an unhealthy lifestyle, which may create an environment for atrial fibrillation to develop.
So, to answer, while anxiety symptoms do not directly cause atrial fibrillation, they might be connected to the heart condition. You can visit a heart specialist to check if your heart health is declining due to anxiety.
Anxiety Factors that Can Cause Afib
Below, you can find how anxiety can be an indirect trigger for AFib:
- Poor Health Choices: Living with anxiety might contribute to lost motivation for a healthy diet, and the affected person ends up making poor dietary choices. Alcohol consumption, too, takes place in some cases, which only increases the risk for heart conditions and worsens anxiety symptoms. Other than this, smoking, living a sedentary lifestyle, and other aspects result in triggering symptoms.
- Afib Risk Factors: When healthy behavior decreases, it starts affecting your health. As a result, conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, obesity, heart failure, and more may occur, which increases the likelihood of atrial fibrillation. Alcohol consumption and smoking are risk factors for AFib as well.
So, in simple words, anxiety might create an environment for atrial fibrillation to occur.
Managing Afib Anxiety
While mental health issues such as stress and anxiety can cause atrial fibrillation, AFib can also be a cause of anxiety. Chronic conditions such as atrial fibrillation can be a significant trigger for mental health problems due to the uncertainties and risks associated with the disease. So, if you have AFib and feel overwhelmed with the disease, here are some ways to deal with the anxiety:
- Try yoga to reduce stress.
- Regular meditation
- Cutting back on activities that are not enjoyable for you
- Daily physical activity
- Spending quality time in nature
- Joining a support group
- Engaging in your hobbies
- Talking to a therapist
Anxiety can affect physical health in a way that creates the environment for the development of atrial fibrillation. You will need to visit a trusted heart specialist for AFib treatment. Our Atrial Fibrillation Center of America team is here to help your heart beat right. Dial (832) 478-5067 to talk to us, or head to our clinic at 13325 Hargrave Rd. Suite 280, Houston, TX 77070.