If you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, some parts of your lifestyle may affect your diagnosis. Those with this disorder may find that they need to improve their diets in order to decrease the effects of their atrial fibrillation. 

What is Atrial Fibrillation? 

Atrial Fibrillation, commonly referred to as AFIB, is an issue with the heart’s two atria chambers and is characterized by an irregular and rapid heart rate. If the upper two atria of the heart start consistently beating abnormally, and not in sync with the bottom chambers, it can be a sign that you have or may develop atrial fibrillation. Some common symptoms of AFIB include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness

Experiencing any of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you are suffering from atrial fibrillation, however, if these symptoms are felt consistently it may need medical intervention. It is important to get treatment for this disease because if it goes untreated, it can lead to:

  • Heart failure
  • Blood clots
  • Stroke

What Causes AFIB?

There is no one particular cause for atrial fibrillation. There are several theories on what may trigger or start an episode of atrial fibrillation.  Certain groups of people are at a higher risk for developing AFIB. Some of the people most likely to develop atrial fibrillation are those who:

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Were born with congenital heart disease
  • Have heart valve disease
  • Have coronary heart disease
  • Have an overactive thyroid
  • Are diagnosed with a lung disease
  • Have slow heartbeat, sick sinus syndrome

Not all people who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation have any of the above illnesses. However, those with the above diagnosis tend to develop AFIB at higher rates than those who are traditionally healthy.

Food Groups That Should Be Avoided For Those With AFIB

Certain foods can trigger AFIB flare-ups or make a person more likely to develop AFIB. Foods or drinks containing certain chemicals that increase the heart rate are more likely to start afib.  Most frequently this occurs with taking in large quantities. Some of these include:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

It is important to know that in moderation, all foods including caffeine are safe to consume.  

In addition to those food groups, it is important to be aware of medication interactions.  Medications called antiarrhythmics are used to treat atrial fibrillation and can interact with some foods.  Grapefruit in particular can affect the effectiveness of some of the medications and can render it ineffective. 

What People With AFIB Should Eat

Although there are many food groups that AFIB patients need to monitor, there are still many food groups that doctors recommend increasing your intake of in order to reduce AFIB symptoms. Overall a well-balanced diet is most beneficial.  

  • Mediterranean diet is recommended for most cardiovascular patients.  Although it has not been shown to help with afib directly, this has been shown to be beneficial in all patients with overall cardiovascular health.

If you are wondering more about how you can change your diet to be more accommodating to your atrial fibrillation treatment, this article goes further into depth about what is safe and unsafe for patients seeking treatment. You can also contact us at Virginia Arrhythmia Consultants at (804) 410-9749.