Talk with your doctors about how AFib is affecting your life?
Your care team’s main goal is to help you live a healthier life. They will know only what you tell them about how your condition is affecting what you do and how you feel.
Tell your care team exactly how you feel, what your fears are about AFib, and how AFib has changed or limited your activities. They will use this information to better tailor your treatment.
Many people with AFib also have heart failure. Ask about how to pace yourself and when to report in.
Know your Stroke Risk
AFib can increase your chance of having a stroke. Your care team is in the best position to calculate your risk.
Most people with AFib may need to take a prescription blood thinner to prevent clots from forming, but some need no medications. Discuss with your care team in detail to understand the right options for you.
Take your medications exactly as prescribed
Medications are an important part of managing AFib, both to control your heart rate and risk of stroke. But medications work only if you take them the right way. Always tell your health care team about any side effects. Also, don’t stop taking or make changes to your medications without talking to your health care team first.
Over time, AFib can change the shape and size of the heart and how electrical signals are communicated. Medications can help regulate AFib, but which ones you take or the amount sometimes needs to be changed. Therapies such as cardioversion to try to “kick” the heart into a normal rhythm or ablation may be considered to help you improve your symptoms.
Take steps to manage other medical conditions.
These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, diabetes and heart failure. Also ask your care team about sleep apnea because many people with AFib also have this sleep disorder. All these conditions need to be addressed and treated if you have them.
Eat a heart healthy diet.
It’s very important to be mindful about the types of foods fueling your body. Talk with your health care team about how to adopt a healthy eating plan that is low in fat and salt. Ask whether talking with a dietitian would be helpful.
Keep in mind that alcohol and some stimulants can trigger episodes of AFib.Common AFib Triggers
Certain things can trigger atrial fibrillation and acute episodes in people who already have it. For example:
- Heart failure
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Skipping doses of medications aimed to control AFib
- Smoking or taking stimulants
Shed extra pounds
Studies have shown that losing weight, if needed, can help ease symptoms and episodes of AFib in some people. It may even reduce the amount of medication you need to take.
Find an exercise plan that fit your life
Talk with your health care team about what exercise routine is best for you, including the type and frequency of activity. Moving your body also helps boost feel-good hormones and can set you on the right path to make healthy food choices. In fact, studies show that people with AFib who exercise are better able to manage their condition and go about usual activities than those who are not active.
Some people with AFib say they are wary of exercising for fear that it will make their condition worse. While it may not be a good idea to take part in very vigorous workouts, strengthening your heart is important, so find time to talk with your health care team about what’s the best choice for you.
Excessive worry and intense bouts of anger or anxiety can make AFib worse due to faster heart rates. Of course, the start of symptoms themselves can also make you anxious.
Try to find ways to lower stress. For example, go for a walk, listen to music, exercise, or find ways to better manage your time. Research has shown that for some people with AFib, yoga helps them feel better and lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety/depression scores.
Stay connected socially
Don’t let AFib define you. Continue or pursue new hobbies and take part in community or faith-based activities. Many people say doing so helps them to cope and keep a positive outlook.
Get Support and accept help when it is offered
Other people may not understand how AFib makes you feel or affects your ability to do certain things or what to do to help. Try to anticipate your needs ahead of time so you know what might be most helpful if friends and family ask what they can do.
Consider bringing someone to your health visits to help you remember what was said and think of other questions to ask. Also, walk with a buddy for motivation to exercise, or reach out to other people with AFib for support.