Most people experience stress on a daily basis, but realize how it affects their physiological health, in particular their heart health. This is especially true for people who suffer from existing cardiovascular conditions such as atrial fibrillation. With April serving as Stress Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to educate yourself about the health dangers associated with excess stress. You can also encourage high-risk patients to monitor their stress levels and find everyday ways to reduce stress.
The relationship between stress and your heart
Chronic levels of high-stress can affect everyone’s heart health, but people who already have AFib are particularly susceptible. This is because high-stress levels are correlated with other underlying conditions that are associated with AFib, including high blood pressure. Therefore, consistent stress is likely to cause or worsen AFib episodes.
Additionally, when people are dealing with stress they are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as eating poorly, drinking excessively and remaining sedentary. These behaviors can also increase the severity of your AFib, so finding ways to deal with stress in a healthy manner is crucial to your health.
Simple ways to reduce your stress as an AFib patient
We will never be able to outrun stress in the modern world, but thankfully there are many ways that we can effectively manage our stress levels even when things are tough. Here are some precautions you can take to minimize the impact of your stress and control your AFib effectively:
- Physical activity – Getting regular exercise is one of the best stress relievers there is, and it helps improve your overall heart health. The endorphins released through physical activity can make you feel happier, and regular exercise helps you control your weight and lower your blood pressure.
- Mindfulness – Being mindful is a very important part of stress management, and there are several ways that you can engage in it. Practice meditation, breathing exercises, yoga (which also counts a physical activity) or just put down your phone for a while and take a break from the stressful events of the world.
- Maintaining a proper diet – Resist the urge to reach for the junk food when you feel stressed out, and instead eat a heart-healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and minimal alcohol consumption.
- Consistent sleep – Consistently getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night is linked to lower stress levels, so try to keep your bedtime and wake-up time the same every day.
Dealing with stress while living with AFib
Stress doesn’t have to control your life, even when you have AFib. It’s important to have your AFib monitored by a professional, no matter what your stress level is. Contact Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. today to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated cardiac electrophysiologists who can guide you through living a fuller life with AFib.