6 Tips for Restoring Your Heart Rhythm and Your Life
By Decline Sood, DO, FACC, Cardiologist - Virtua Cardiology
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) can be challenging, affecting your ability to do everyday activities, not to mention increasing your risk for blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. Using medication and lifestyle changes, and procedures if needed, we can get you back to where you want to be.
To manage your condition:
Take your medicines as prescribed. You may take different medications to treat individual segments of AFib. Anticoagulants thin your blood to reduce your risk for blood clots that could cause a stroke. Beta and calcium channel blockers are used to control your heart rate. Sodium and potassium channel blockers can regulate your heart rhythm.
Be sure to share with your doctor other medications and supplements you take, which may interfere with your AFib treatment. Cough and cold medicines, for example, contain stimulants that can make your heart beat faster.
Eat a heart-healthy diet. Focus on a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and low in sodium and fats. Limit caffeine and alcohol.
Exercise and manage your weight. Shedding extra pounds can ease your symptoms and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Try walking, jogging, or riding an exercise bike 30 minutes a day. If you experience chest pain, breathlessness, or exhaustion, stop. Your healthcare provider can help you set a routine.
Relax. Worry and stress can increase your heart rate and worsen symptoms. Massage, acupuncture, deep breathing, and support groups may lessen your anxiety.
Seek a surgical solution. If medication and lifestyle changes fail to improve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive medical procedure. Catheter ablation uses radiofrequency energy sent through a special wire to destroy heart tissue causing the errant electrical signals. The scar tissue disrupts the abnormal signals and may stop AFib from occurring.
If indicated, other options include implanting a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which detects irregular heartbeats and sends an electrical shock to restore rhythm.
AFib doesn’t go away on its own. A treatment plan that incorporates medication, a heart-healthy lifestyle, and any necessary procedures will help you feel better and restore your rhythm of life.
Virtua heart rhythm specialists use the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic interventions to treat your arrhythmia. To make an appointment, call 856-350-4655.
Updated November 18, 2020