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Living and Thriving with Afib

They say you are strong when you know your weaknesses. If you are dealing with a long term diagnosis like atrial fibrillation, knowledge is your greatest tool. The key to living and thriving with Afib is to find out more about your heart. 

  • What makes it tick? 
  • What could trigger an episode of fibrillation?
  • How much can you push yourself, with going overboard? 

Dealing with atrial fibrillation can be overwhelming at first.

Read our previous article - 5 Things You Should Know about Atrial Fibrillation, about how you can pick up the signs of Afib early on. After receiving a diagnosis, how can you manage afib symptoms? 

Treatment options in Atrial Fibrillation 

Once Afib has been diagnosed the aims of management are clear. Your doctor will try to reset your heart rhythm and control the heart rate, in order to prevent blood clots that can lead to strokes. This may be done with oral medications, like beta-blockers or anti-arrhythmic drugs, along with blood thinners. Doctors may also try to reset the heart back to its normal rhythm with cardioversion, which is done by sending electric shocks to the heart tissue using small paddles or electrodes on the chest.

In severe cases, cardiologists may recommend surgical procedures like cardiac ablation which uses heat from radiofrequency energy, or cryoablation which uses extreme cold to create scars in the heart tissue. This blocks the abnormal electrical impulses and restores a regular heartbeat, sometimes with the help of a pacemaker. 

While a diagnosis of heart arrhythmias can shake things up, with the right plan in place, you can live a life that is BIGGER than Afib! 

Here are 6 ways you can learn to live safely and live well with Atrial Fibrillation. 

1. BE FAST, Be Aware. Know your stroke risk. 

Living and thriving with Afib

Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke by 5-fold and AFib-related strokes are 2.5-fold more likely to be fatal. Medicines like oral anticoagulants (blood thinners) can reduce the risk of stroke by 64% and the risk of death by 26%, in those with Afib. However, they do come with their own side effects as they may increase your tendency to bleed if you get hurt. It does help if you know how to spot the signs of a stroke as early as possible and be careful to avoid trauma while exercising. Be compliant with medication.

2. Eat Smart for a Healthy Heart! 

A  study revealed that diets rich in saturated fat were associated with a greater risk of persistent or chronic atrial fibrillation. It is advisable to increase your intake of monosaturated fats like nuts, avocados or olive oil while eating a well rounded wholesome diet. 

3. More Smiles, Less Stress! 

Studies have shown that anxiety and stress may act as triggers for atrial fibrillation. Strong emotions can cause your heart to race and skip a beat, which may in turn trigger AFib episodes. Finding coping mechanisms like breathing exercises or meditation to calm your nerves may help in the long run. 

4. Say No to Cigarettes and Cocktails 

Alcohol can also trigger Afib. Some people experience symptoms from just a drink or two, while others don’t feel adverse effects in a cardiac sense unless heavy drinking is involved. This is believed to be due to a possible link between alcohol consumption and the level of activity of the vagus nerve which in turn affects the heart. According to the American Heart Association, light to moderate alcohol intake within limits should not trigger Afib. They suggest up to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men, without binge drinking. Research from the European Society of Cardiology determined that every 10 "pack-years" of smoking saw a 16% increased risk of Afib. 

5. Fit does not Quit. Find a Workout that Suits YOU! 

It’s natural for people with arrhythmias to hesitate when it comes to exercise. A common question they ask is “Can I exercise with a heart condition?”

How do you know if your heart is working too hard?

Afib can make exercise difficult because it does cause your heart rate to rise, and your blood pressure drops. You may experience heart palpitations, dizziness, sweating and breathlessness. In severe cases, it may also cause arm pain, confusion and disorientation. If you do feel unwell or uneasy while exercising with atrial fibrillation,  ask your doctor to confirm if you can take part in regular workout sessions, at a moderate level. 

While initially recovering from Afib, you may be told to consider cardiac rehabilitation, where you exercise at a health facility while under supervision where your heart is evaluated using exercise heart rate monitors, while looking out for changes in  ECG monitoring devices. The specialists there can recommend new exercises to safely try. 

How do I know how my heart is doing during exercise?

A continuous ECG monitor that tracks your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity patterns, can be very useful to understand whether you are pushing your heart too hard.

Here is advice from Scott who uses wearables to help understand his heart health. 

Watch more Frontier X Smart Heart Monitor Video Testimonials.

*The information contained in this blog is provided on an as-is basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy or usefulness. The content in this blog is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is meant for informational purposes only. This blog contains copyright material, the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner.