While some of the most important AFib risk factors such as high blood pressure are widely known, there are many other potential triggers that can disrupt the natural rhythm of the heart.

Illness

Even a seemingly benign illness like the common cold can put your body through a significant amount of stress. Sometimes, this physical stress can trigger an AFib episode. Physical fatigue and recovery from surgery also sometimes have similar effects on the body.

Smoking

Medical professionals have done an excellent job of warning people of the cancer risk associated with smoking in the past few decades, but many people are still unaware of the link between smoking and AFib. The results are clear, however: a study found that current smokers had a 131 percent greater risk of having AFib when compared to non-smokers, and former heavy smokers had a 90 percent greater risk.

Exercise

It is possible for your body to become so exhausted during the course of physical exercise that it induces a state of AFib. That’s why people who are at high risk for AFib should consult with their doctor before performing any intense physical activity. However, for the vast majority of people exercise remains a vital component of a healthy lifestyle.

Alcohol

The link between alcohol consumption and AFib varies greatly depending on the person, but it does exist. For some patients, a single drink is enough to trigger an AFib incident, while others are largely unaffected unless they are binge drinking. Be honest with your doctor about the amount of alcohol you consume so they can accurately gauge your risk level.

Medications

If you are living with AFib, you must consult with your doctor before taking any OTC medications, even if it is just for a single use. Some drugs commonly sold at pharmacies and supermarkets can cause a heart arrhythmia in people who are prone to them, especially popular decongestants.

Dehydration

All of your bodily functions are affected by the amount of water in your system, including your heart. Monitor your hydration level constantly, and always bring water when exercising, or when you are outside in hot, humid weather.

Hormones

Certain hormonal changes in women, especially those associated with the menstrual cycle, affect the heart rate and therefore make them more prone to AFib.

If you or a loved one are living with a heart rhythm disorder, contact Heart Rhythm Consultants. Dr. Dilip Mathew is board certified in Cardiology & Cardiac Electrophysiology and has been serving patients in Sarasota and surrounding cities including Port Charlotte, Venice, Tampa and Sun City Center for over a decade.