An atrial fibrillation diagnosis requires sacrifices not only from the patient but also from their loved ones who help care for them. Learn more about what you can do as an AFib caregiver to facilitate effective treatment and to keep you and your loved ones healthy.
Learn about medication doses and side effects
Medications such as anticoagulants (also known as blood thinners) are an important part of AFib treatment for many patients. These medications can be crucial for reducing the risk of stroke and managing the dangerous complications of AFib. However, blood thinners also bring an increased risk of excessive bleeding, so watch for signs of bruises or bloody stool that could be a signal of internal bleeding. Also take care to manage the patient’s other medications as necessary, including high blood pressure or diabetes meds, to prevent reactions with anticoagulants and overdoses.
Familiarize yourself with the effects of lifestyle changes
One of the most helpful things that you can do for your loved one living with AFib is to encourage them to implement critical lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, staying active, and eating a heart-healthy diet. However, you should be aware of the effects these habits can have on the treatment for AFib. For example, extreme swings in vitamin K consumption can limit the effects of certain anticoagulants, so it’s best to keep the consumption of foods like leafy greens as consistent as possible.
Know the warning signs of a stroke
As a caregiver for an AFib patient, you work hard to help your loved one reduce the chances of a stroke, but in the event that one does occur, your immediate reaction can mean the difference between life and death. The American Stroke Association recommends learning the FAST routine so you can detect strokes early and seek treatment as soon as possible. It consists of:
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Time to call 9-1-1
Incorporate self-care techniques into your routine
Most caregivers do a lot for their loved ones, but many of these caregivers neglect to properly consider their own wellness. You can only be reliable for an AFib patient when you are at your best, so make sure you are looking after yourself by eating healthy, getting exercise, pursuing hobbies, or participating in mental health activities. Consider joining an AFib support group to help you shoulder the serious responsibility of caring for someone.
If you or a loved one are living with a heart rhythm disorder such as atrial fibrillation, contact Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. Our team of EP doctors has been serving patients in Sarasota and surrounding cities including Port Charlotte, Venice, Tampa, and Sun City Center for over a decade.