Thanksgiving is about friends, family and food—but for people with atrial fibrillation, it also means all that amazing food and drink can trigger AFib symptoms. Plus, the hustle and bustle of the holidays often puts stress on the heart as well. If you have atrial fibrillation, read on for tips to help you manage this condition during Thanksgiving.

Eliminate Thanksgiving Stress

Thanksgiving is a time for thanks, and that means family reunions, festivities and lots of time spent together. However, you have to watch your personal schedule during the celebrations. Some people stay up late to eat and drink or enjoy a game or movie night with their friends and family. It’s all fun and games until a lack of sleep causes an abnormal heart rhythm.

Studies have shown that deviations from your normal sleep schedule and resting periods can trigger AFib. An all-nighter coupled with extreme emotions and AFib-triggering food can lead to worsened AFib symptoms on Thanksgiving. Make sure to take time out for rest and get a good nights’ sleep to help prevent an episode.

Cook a Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving meals are notorious for being hard on the heart, even if they are delicious. But that doesn’t mean you need to skip the meal entirely. There are a few things you can do to make it healthier.

  • When preparing the turkey, strip the skin to reduce fat content.
  • Choose white meat only, as this is a heart-healthier alternative to dark meat.
  • Organic, pasture-raised birds are leaner, which makes them a great choice for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Take the focus off the meats and fatty dishes by making vegetables the star of the show.
  • Prepare mashed potatoes and gravy with heart-healthy recipes that are lower in fat.
  • The same goes for pumpkin pie. Look for recipes that make this treat a bit healthier.

Keep Up With Your Exercise

We know the holidays are busy. It’s often difficult to keep up with regular exercise while doing all the cooking, cleaning and shopping. Still, there are ways to fit in exercise around all the fun. It may help to create new Thanksgiving traditions to help keep everyone healthier during this time of the year. For example, take the whole family out for a walk after dinner. It’s added time spent together, and it’s good for your heart.

Don’t Let AFib Be the Unwelcome Guest

This Thanksgiving, prioritize your heart health. If you think you may have AFib or know a loved one who may be at risk of AFib, schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Heart Rhythm Consultants in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota area. We value your health and wellbeing above all else. Our cardiologists always stand ready to assist you in any questions about your heart health. Speak with a care coordinator today.

About Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A.

The experienced electrophysiologists of Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. have been serving West Florida including Sarasota, Venice, Tampa, Port Charlotte, and Sun City Center for over 15 years. Our specialty cardiologists, or EP doctors, help patients manage their abnormal heart rhythm conditions, whether they suffer from arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation (AFib), or other irregular heartbeats. Dr. Dilip J. Mathew, Dr. Antonio Moretta, and Dr. Rajesh Malik perform arrhythmia treatments like cardiac ablation, cryoablation, and implanting pacemakers or defibrillators. Dr. Mathew has performed nearly 5,000 complex cardiac ablations. View our office locations in Sarasota and Venice, Florida.