Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a condition that affects the atria, the upper chambers of the heart. It can cause irregular heartbeats which can lead to serious complications such as stroke. More than 2 million Americans are affected by AFib and among adults age 65 and over, making it the most common cause of irregular heartbeat.
A study published in the Journal of Atrial Fibrillation showed that AFib can be affected by seasonal variations. There is an increased incidence of paroxysmal AFib in some patients for complications from AFib during the winter and summer months. While the study showed that winter affected patients the most, summer presented increased risk as well. Try these tips to manage your AFib in summer.
Dehydration is a common trigger for AFib. Be careful when traveling to not stray far from your normal eating schedule and make sure you drink plenty of water. However, even at home it can be easy to get wrapped up in your summer fun and forget about hydration. Keep water with you at all times and if you start experiencing dehydration symptoms, drink a rapid hydration drink to give you a boost.
Get Plenty of Rest
Fatigue and sleep deprivation can exacerbate AFib. When you are on vacation or just enjoying activities that summer offers, it can be tempting to skimp a little on sleep. When you are tired, it puts stress on your body which increases the likelihood that you will experience abnormal electrical activity in your heart, so be sure to get plenty of rest.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Caffeine and alcohol are both doubly dangerous for AFib patients. The substances themselves can trigger an episode and they both can contribute to dehydration. They act as diuretics which can quickly deplete your fluids. Alcohol lowers your blood pressure and dilated blood vessels while caffeine increases your heart rhythm. All of these are significant factors in causing AFib.
Don’t Exercise in Extreme Heat
The warm summer months make outdoor exercise very inviting. However, exercise can be a significant trigger for AFib, but when you add extreme heat, the risk is multiplied. There are several reasons, including dehydration, stress from overheating, and exercise itself. If you exercise, do so indoors where you don’t risk overheating and only under your doctor’s supervision.
Avoid Getting Overheated
Summertime means an increased chance of overheating. While you are enjoying summer activities, be conscious of when you may be getting too hot and have a strategy for getting cool. Carry water with you at all times and, in a pinch, pre-moistened towelettes can help you cool down a little.
Enjoy your summer the smart way and if you experience AFib, we offer a variety of effective treatments. Dr. Mathew and his team have helped thousands of patients in the Tampa/Sarasota area take control of their AFib for over 14 years. Contact us today to schedule your appointment with the talented team at Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A.