If you’ve been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, your EP doctor may have prescribed one or more medications to help control the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat. These pills are a good start on keeping your heart working smoothly, but you can also take steps to improve your heart’s overall health and achieve a higher sense of well-being. For more energy, and improved heart health, make these lifestyle changes:
Stop Smoking. Smoking is the number one enemy of heart health. Even a few cigarettes a day can have a profound effect on healthy living and the severity of your AFib. Try a variety of quitting methods until you find one that works for you.
Drink in Moderation. Limit your intake of alcohol. The key to heart-healthy drinking is moderation at all times. Ask any emergency room technician and they will tell you about “holiday heart attacks,” heart problems that pop up especially near the end of the year from a night of too much drinking. Check with your doctor for guidelines on how much is too much. With most people, one or two drinks should be the limit in one day.
Exercise. It can be frightening to some AFib patients to exercise; getting their heart rate elevated can feel like they’re causing a problem with their heart. In addition, many patients are on medication that cause lethargy and lack of ambition for physical activity. No matter what the reason, you’ve got to break through and develop good exercise habits for a heart-healthy lifestyle. Check with your doctor to see what’s safe for you, but plan to include at least some physical activity each day.
Limit Caffeine. The jury’s still out on caffeine usage for AFib patients. Some people feel no effects at all, while others feel a fluttering and increased heart rate every time they have a cup of coffee. Be honest with yourself when choosing whether to reach for the decaf or regular pot. If you or your doctor do decide to limit your caffeine, remember that it’s also in tea, soft drinks, chocolate, and even some over-the-counter medications.
Time to Seek Specialty Care?
If your primary care doctor has recommended that you see a heart specialist, call for an appointment with Dr. Dilip Matthew, Sarasota’s top heart rhythm doctor serving the Sun Coast including Tampa, Bradenton, Sun City Center and all of West Florida.