Atrial fibrillation is common but can have disastrous effect if not kept in check.
Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia that occurs when electrical activity of the heart is disorganized. As a result, the irregular heart beat upsets the flow of blood through the chambers of the heart, causing blood to pool in the heart. Pooled blood is at risk of clotting and causing a stroke.
The good news is that atrial fibrillation can be managed with the following lifestyle adjustments:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases the risk of heart problems. Extra weight can increase stroke risk when compounded with atrial fibrillation.
- Stop smoking (or don't start). Smoking is a major contributor to heart disease and can make atrial fibrillation worse.
- Eat a healthy, low-sodium diet. A healthy diet will help keep your blood pressure in check. High blood pressure contributes to the ill effects of atrial fibrillation.
- Reduce stress. High stress people are at a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
- Keep your cholesterol levels in a normal range. Clogged arteries caused by high cholesterol can worsen atrial fibrillation.
- Limit alcohol consumption. For some people, alcohol can trigger atrial fibrillation. The risk is increased when people binge drink, or consume more than five (for men) or four (for women) alcoholic beverages in two hours.
In addition to lifestyle changes, your physician may prescribe medications to control the risks posed by atrial fibrillation. Medications, like aspirin and warfarin, are blood thinners that may be prescribed for atrial fibrillation patients to prevent clotting and strokes.
You can learn more about your risk, symptoms and treatment options at an Atrial Fibrillation Lecture presented by cardiologist Dr. Rao Musunuru on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 3 p.m. This hour-long program will be held in the conference center at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. Due to limited seating, reservations are required and can be made by calling (727) 869-5498 or 1-855-534-4325.