The Mediterranean Diet and Afib
January 5, 2022
By now, you probably know that lifestyle plays a part in the development and severity of atrial fibrillation or Afib, much like it can affect several other cardiovascular processes. And, with a full 30% of the adult US population being obese and upwards of two-thirds overweight, the need for improved diet has never been greater. Unfortunately, this distinct deterioration of our collective health has led to a significant increase in Afib, even in younger and seemingly healthier patients. Many patients look for the best diet program and with so many out there, it is difficult to choose the best.
One diet has withstood the test of time. It is neither extreme nor revolutionary – the Mediterranean diet. Researchers looking for the “fountain of youth” found that many people in Mediterranean countries live longer than their more central and Northern European counterparts. When they looked for a cause, it became clear that diet may play a significant role.
In fact, the Mediterranean diet consist of healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, legumes, and fish. Red meat is a rarity versus a daily staple. Further, as we are learning more recently, measured drinking, especially red wine, can be protective for cardiovascular health as well.
But Does That Translate to Treatment for Afib?
Whether a patient is suffering from Afib or any other arrhythmia, their underlying heart and general health plays a significant role in both its progression and severity. While these arrythmias may not be cured with lifestyle change alone, such as following the Mediterranean diet, we have plenty of evidence that patients who lose weight through an improved diet and exercise program tend to not only improve their arrhythmias but make interventions more successful and longer lasting.
For example, excess weight and a diet high in processed foods, cholesterol and saturated fat can lead to high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension, in turn, is a significant risk factor in the development of any arrhythmia, but especially Afib. It stands to reason, therefore, that eliminating or at least improving hypertension should have a positive impact on Afib.
The Bottom Line
Following the Mediterranean diet, and it doesn’t hurt to throw in some intermittent fasting, is a good idea. Not only does losing weight and eating more healthfully improve your heart health, but it reduces pressure on the joints and can significantly improve your mood. Whether it is a treatment option or cure for atrial fibrillation depends on a patient’s particular case, but it surely can’t hurt to improve your diet, thus improving your overall health.
With that said, even paroxysmal or occasional atrial fibrillation should be properly diagnosed and monitored by qualified electrophysiologist such as Dr. Tordini. Afib is a progressive condition meaning that it may get worse…and it is a significant risk factor in stroke, heart attack and long-term heart failure. It is better safe than sorry and during your consultation with Dr. Tordini you can speak about the best options for dieting and losing weight.
Dr. Tordini is a part of Florida Medical Clinic in Tampa