AF Association News & Events

Global AF Aware Week: Lifestyle Changes to Live Better with AFib

Some people have AFib all the time, but others have AFib episodes that come and go. Healthy living is important for everyone but it’s even more important for people with AFib. A good diet and regular exercise can help to reduce the number of AF episodes you have, and the risk of AFib complications, such as AF-related stroke.

 Living with AFib

Healthy diet- think about the food you currently eat and the things you could reduce from your diet such as saturated fat, sugar, salt. Also, think about the food that you could eat more of — including fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains. A healthy diet doesn’t mean you can only eat lettuce — it means getting the balance right, so your diet has more of the “healthy foods” and less of the “junk foods”. Pay attention to the foods that trigger an AFib  episode and discuss your diet with your doctor.

Exercise- this doesn’t need to be tricky. Speak with your doctor about how much exercise you can do and how to monitor this. Exercise is important and, with your doctor’s help, you can find what works for you —  every person with AFib is different! One person may find that they like running; another may prefer walking. Find what is best for you.

Doctor visits-when you have AFib you will most likely need to visit the doctor more often. Make sure you don’t skip your appointments. Tell your doctor how you’re feeling and what you’re struggling with.

Diary-it’s a good idea to keep a diary of your symptoms. Write down the things that might trigger your symptoms and things that help your symptoms. This is important to know when you’re speaking with your doctor. 

Sleep - getting enough sleep is very important when you have AFib. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. 

Sex life - If, following a diagnosis of Afib, you are concerned about having sex, speak with your doctor about your concerns. 

 AFib Triggers

Caffeine-some people with AFib drink coffee and tea and are fine, but they can trigger an episode in others. Therefore, discuss having caffeine with your doctor first.

Dehydration-lack of fluids in your system can affect your heart. It’s possible to have an AFib event when you’re dehydrated. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated especially during physical activity and the summer months. 

Over-the-Counter-Medications-certain medications like some decongestants can trigger an AFib attack. Make sure you read the label of any over-the-counter medications you take to make sure they don’t include stimulants . You should discuss with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications. 

Alcohol-most AFib patients can drink occasionally but you should discuss this with your doctor first. Drinking heavily can trigger an AFib attack. 

Smoking-one important thing to consider when you have AFib is not to smoke. Cigarette smoking can cause AFib and it can also trigger an attack. If you’re a smoker, talk with your doctor about how you can stop.  

Living with AFib can be difficult at times but the most important thing is that you are aware of your condition and you can learn how to manage it. The more you know about your condition, the more in control you will feel. This will help to improve your quality of life.

If you’re looking for suggestions, or a place to discuss AFib visit our Atrial Fibrillation Association AF US Forum on Facebook. This is a public group where you can discuss AFib, meet other people with AFib and learn the latest AFib news. 

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