Does somebody in your family suffer from atrial fibrillation (AFib)? If so, you and other relatives should be aware that AFib tends to be genetic, meaning your chances of developing this heart condition may be higher than average. The good news is that by having regular screenings and taking measures to improve your heart health, you can reduce your risk.

Understanding Family History and AFib

While age is the biggest contributing factor to AFib, studies have found that those with close family members who have the condition are about 40% more likely to develop AFib at some point in their lives. This family link is likely due to the fact that AFib sometimes occurs due to changes in specific genes, which can be passed on through generations. Other genetic factors such as blood pressure can also make a person more prone to Afib.

Protecting Your Health

There are preventive measures you and others in your family can take if you have a close relative with AFib. Start having regular heart health screenings. These can help you get a better idea of your heart health and know what measures you may need to take to improve your cardiovascular health and potentially reduce your AFib risk. These screenings should be done at least once every few years, but your doctor will be able to give you a better idea of how often you need them based on your age and other factors.

In addition to regular screenings, there are other changes you can make in your daily life to reduce your risk of AFib. From cutting back on your alcohol consumption and quitting smoking to making sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily, small lifestyle changes can add up and reduce your risk not just of AFib, but other heart-related conditions and diseases as well.

If you or a loved one are living with a heart rhythm disorder such as atrial fibrillation, 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.