Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a condition that causes an irregular heartbeat. AFib is caused by the uppermost two chambers of the heart (the atria) beating too fast due to disorganized electrical signals. Heartbeats may range from 100 to 175 beats a minute. A normal resting heart rate is around 60 beats per minute. This erratic quivering of the heart muscles can cause a shortage of blood reaching peripheral tissue and muscles, which may lead to fatigue or shortness of breath.
It’s crucial to treat AFib, not only to control the symptoms but also because the condition may be responsible for up to 20 percent of all strokes. AFib can also lead to heart failure, and if untreated, doubles the risk of heart-related deaths.
How can I Prevent Afib?
Our goal is to prevent AFib, and thankfully there are many steps patients can take at home to limit the risk factors. Here are some easy steps that can help reduce the risk of AFib and other heart diseases.
Maintain a healthy weight
Sustained weight loss can significantly reduce the burden of AFib. Studies show that losing as little as 10% of body weight can reduce AFib symptoms. Monitor your weight and keep an eye out for a trend of weight increase, particularly if there are no explanations for it.
Engage in regular physical activity
Consistent exercise can help strengthen your body. It improves blood circulation and the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells. It also helps with muscle strength, particularly relating to the circulatory system. As with anything, moderation is always key. Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast. Work with your doctor to determine the right exercise plan for you.
Eat a heart-healthy diet
When it comes to your heart, what you eat matters. The important thing is to maintain a balanced diet, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean protein and whole grains. Salmon, chicken, asparagus, spinach, brown rice and almonds are all great examples of heart-healthy foods. At the same time, limit high-fat and high-sodium foods such as red meat, cheese and processed foods.
Avoid smoking, and limit caffeine and alcohol
Smoking damages your lungs and their capability to intake enough oxygen for your body, which also affects your circulatory system. Caffeine’s properties can aggravate your blood vessels by inducing a short, but dramatic increase in your blood pressure. While the occasional cup of coffee or glass of wine may be okay, consult your doctor or physician first.
Check for family medical conditions
Underlying conditions can contribute to causing AFib, such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, thyroid disease, diabetes, and other heart conditions. Do a thorough check of your family history and possible hidden medical conditions.
Get regular check-ups and screenings
Screening for AFib is very important. Many of the patients we treat at Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. don’t experience any symptoms at all. They are only diagnosed when being treated or screened for other conditions.
If you have more questions about AFib or are concerned that you may be at risk for AFib, schedule an appointment at Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal heart rhythms. Our electrophysiologists serve residents of Sarasota, Venice, Tampa, Port Charlotte and Sun City Center, giving every patient the care and attention they deserve. Make the call today.
About Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A.
The experienced electrophysiologists of Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. have been serving West Florida including Sarasota, Venice, Tampa, Port Charlotte, and Sun City Center for over 15 years. Our specialty cardiologists, or EP doctors, help patients manage their abnormal heart rhythm conditions, whether they suffer from arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation (AFib), or other irregular heartbeats. Dr. Dilip J. Mathew, Dr. Antonio Moretta, and Dr. Rajesh Malik perform arrhythmia treatments like cardiac ablation, cryoablation, and implanting pacemakers or defibrillators. Dr. Mathew has performed nearly 5,000 complex cardiac ablations. View our office locations in Sarasota and Venice, Florida.