It is estimated that up to 6.1 million Americans are living with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) in the US, making it the most common form of arrhythmia being diagnosed. By definition, AFib is a type of heart arrhythmia that may increase the risk of several heart-related conditions like stroke, blood clots, and heart failure.
When a person has atrial fibrillation, the two upper chambers of the heart beats irregularly and unsynchronized with the lower chambers which will affect blood flow. AFib can be a serious condition.
Causes and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
The risk of developing AFib increases as a person gets older. Individuals who have a history of cardiovascular problems are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. Other possible causes of AFib includes:
- History of a heart attack
- History of a heart surgery
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heart valves
- Coronary artery disease
- Congenital heart defects
- Sleep apnea
- Sick sinus syndrome
- Respiratory conditions
Overexposure to caffeine, tobacco smoke, and certain medications can also trigger AFib. Atrial fibrillation may either occur in episodes or be a chronic condition. Some may not even show symptoms initially. People with AFib may experience the symptoms below:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Tips in Living with Atrial Fibrillation
Living with AFib can be really challenging. It can affect your way of living as well. You easily get tired and you can’t just do the things that you want to do as it might complicate your condition. However, with the right treatment and the helpful tips below, you can manage your condition and enjoy life.
- Know your stroke risks
People with atrial fibrillation are five times at risk of stroke. You may need blood thinners to reduce your stroke risk. See your cardiologist or electrophysiologist to determine your condition and for the best treatment for you.
- Follow your treatment plan
Your physician will create a treatment plan and prescribe you medications in order to manage your AFib episodes. Make sure to take your medicines, especially the blood thinner, and follow the treatment plan accordingly.
- Eat right
Eating a healthy diet focusing on your heart’s health plays an important role in managing your condition. Lower your salt consumption as well as the saturated and trans fat. Refrain from drinking soda and caffeinated drinks.
- Control your weight
Overweight individuals have a greater chance of developing atrial fibrillation. Losing weight can reduce the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
- Stay active
Individuals with AFib are recommended to exercise. Walking and hiking is good for the lungs, helps lower blood pressure, and improves your mental health.
Stress has become a culprit to many health conditions including AFib episodes. Deep breathing, meditation and yoga are a few techniques to calm your nerves and destress yourself.
- Get support
Don’t let your condition define you. Continue meeting your family and friends. Surrounding yourself with people important to you will help in managing AFib.