What Can I Do to Naturally Prevent Atrial Fibrillation
September 15, 2022
Atrial fibrillation, or Afib, is the most common arrhythmia in the United States and is estimated to affect upwards of 5 million Americans. Every year a greater number of patients are diagnosed with this condition because of several factors. While there are a few non-modifiable factors – those that cannot be helped (like age and genetics), we can go a long way in reducing the likelihood of developing Afib by making simple but meaningful lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, many of us have developed bad heart health habits over the course of years or even our entire lifetime, so while straightforward, we understand how difficult these changes can be to implement.
Diet is a critical part of improving heart health and preventing or slowing the onset or worsening of Afib. Unfortunately, our diets have seen better days, and most Americans overeat sugar, saturated fat, and not enough of the healthy, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean meats we should. The result can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. Not only can this lead to severe heart disease, but Afib as well. As a double whammy, this occlusion of the arteries can lead to high blood pressure, yet another risk factor for Afib.
Exercising is essential for virtually every function of the body. We derive physical, emotional, and psychological benefits from a proper exercise routine which should include several days of moderate exercise each week. Of course, your medical team will let you know how much exercise is appropriate, so you don’t overstrain your heart. However, exercise is crucial in ensuring the heart stays healthy and burns calories. Exercising correctly and consistently can prevent heart disease, including many common arrhythmias.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or any other marker or risk factor for heart disease, it is essential that you handle it as soon as possible to avoid follow-on problems, including Afib. Knowing your risk means visiting your primary care physician or cardiologist to get the appropriate screening.
Eliminate Bad Habits
Smoking, drinking, and drug use can all contribute to an irregular heartbeat and Afib. Whether you try to cut down on your own or seek professional help, your body and heart will thank you for eliminating these substances.
Certain medications can cause or worsen Afib and other arrhythmias. When you visit your electrophysiologist, they will take a complete medical history and evaluate it for potential red flags related to Afib. If medication is causing your Afib, your electrophysiologist can work alongside your other medical specialists or primary care physician to address the issue, if possible.
Speak to Your Electrophysiologist & Get Early Treatment
Afib is a progressive, chronic condition that needs to be appropriately identified and treated early. Usually, Afib starts as paroxysmal or occasional. If you are experiencing any symptoms, you should visit your medical specialist and speak to them about a referral to an electrophysiologist for evaluation and treatment. Left untreated, Afib can progress, and become persistent, which is far harder to treat.
Afib and other cardiac arrhythmias may not always be preventable, or the lifestyle change you implement may not be sufficient to ward them off. However, Afib is often treatable with very safe and effective medical or minimally invasive catheter-based protocols. Most importantly, it would be best if you had an appropriate diagnosis, after which we can see what treatment options are best for you.
Please get in touch with us for more information and a consultation with Dr. Tordini.