As with so many health-related issues, keeping to a healthy schedule for eating, sleeping, and exercising is key to helping manage your afib. Houston’s top electrophysiologist, Dr. Shanti Bansal, recommends maintaining a healthy lifestyle to help keep your heart healthy and to control your afib. In some cases, afib sufferers are not even aware they have the condition. The fibrillation is not noticeable. But, most of the time, afib is both noticeable and poses a health challenge both concerning reducing stroke risks and managing the afib itself.
Afib (atrial fibrillation) is a form of heart arrhythmia during which the upper chambers of the heart are ‘out of sync’ with the lower chambers. Normally, the upper chambers or atria send out uniform, measured electrical signals to the lower chamber. These signals cause the lower chamber to contract and pump blood through the body. A steady, regular signal is essential to maintaining a steady, regular heart rate. However, when the heart’s electrical signals become erratic, an irregular heartbeat occurs resulting in quivering or fibrillation of the heart chambers. The result is afib symptoms. Maintaining a steady electrical signal is a key to keeping a regular heart rhythm.
Below are six steps you can take to help maintain a smooth and regular heartbeat. These might be part of an atrial fibrillation treatment plan, or you can begin these at home on your own. These actions are helpful for everyone but are especially applicable to those with afib symptoms. To help control your afib:
- Eat heart-healthy meals. Eat food with reduce fats and salts, emphasize fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit high-fat foods such as red meats and high-fat dairy products.
- Quit smoking. Smoking raises the risk of developing afib by a factor of 2. People who smoke develop various lung problems which cause pressure in the circulatory system. This is turn enlarges the heart’s atrium which then raises the chances for developing afib.
- Maintain normal blood pressure levels. High blood pressure means more rapid heartbeat with more pooling of blood in the heart. This increases the chances of clotting and stroke. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure reduces the strain on the circulatory system and prevents damage.
- Keep your weight in a healthy range. While obesity is known to increase the chances of afib, the precise connection is not well established. It is believed that obesity results in increased opportunities for inflammations which contribute to afib episodes. In addition, related conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure that accompany obesity also contribute to occurrences of afib. Further, maintaining a healthy weight is a good practice for everyone, with or without afib.
- Reduce stress. Stress and anxiety have a negative impact on afib, so managing stress is essential in controlling afib. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are all useful in controlling stress levels.
- Get enough sleep. Studies have shown that poor sleep, not getting enough sleep, or having trouble falling asleep may all contribute to episodes of afib. Maintaining the proper amount of as well as a regular schedule for sleep can help control afib symptoms. Recent studies indicate that the spring time change (having to arise an hour earlier than usual) increases the incidence of afib episodes.
Overall, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting a reasonable amount of active exercise every week all contribute to helping you control your afib. A program of healthy living is great for everyone, but it is especially crucial for afib sufferers. Reducing the incidence of afib episodes, controlling atrial fibrillation signs, and lowering the risk of stroke are benefits all afib sufferers can enjoy.
If you have afib or believe you may have afib, schedule an appointment with Houston’s top electrophysiologist, Dr. Shanti Bansal, at Arrhythmia Centers of America. Dr. Bansal and his staff can assess your situation and discuss treatment options to help manage your afib. If appropriate, he will develop an afib treatment and management plan. Many procedures, treatments, and medications are available to help both control afib and limit its risks. Call our offices today to schedule an appointment, 832-478-5067.