Atrial Fibrillation - Living With Atrial Fibrillation
atrial fibrillation is often the result of a heart
condition, making changes to improve your heart condition will usually improve
your overall health. Some of these changes include:
- Not smoking. If you smoke, try to quit. Medicines and counseling can help you quit for good.
- Controlling your cholesterol. This can be done by diet and exercise, and
medicines if needed.
- Controlling your blood pressure. Follow a
low-sodium, low-fat, and low-saturated fat diet; increase your exercise;
decrease alcohol intake; and take medicines, if needed, to control your blood
- Eating a heart-healthy diet. This includes eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit sodium and saturated fat. Eat fish, especially oily fish like salmon and tuna, at least twice each week. For more information, see:
- Heart Disease: Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet.
- Not using alcohol, caffeine, or stimulants, such
as methamphetamines or cocaine. Be aware that some nonprescription medicines,
especially cold and herbal remedies, contain stimulants that can trigger atrial
fibrillation. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new
- Trying an
exercise program. Exercise has many positive effects:
weight management, cholesterol reduction, blood pressure control, blood sugar
leveling in diabetes, triglyceride reduction, mood elevation, and increased
strength. Try to exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week. Talk to
your doctor before starting an exercise program. For more information, see the
topic Cardiac Rehabilitation.
- Avoiding illness from the
flu. Get a flu shot every year.
- Being on
the alert for signs of
obstructive sleep apnea. Many people with
atrial fibrillation also have obstructive sleep apnea.
complementary options to help control your stress. Examples include:
Check your heartbeat regularly. To learn how to check your
taking your pulse . If you notice that your heartbeat does not have a regular
rhythm, talk to your doctor. Checking your heartbeat is important, because many people do not have symptoms of atrial
fibrillation. Ask your doctor how often you should check your heartbeat. Once a month might be right for you.
Safety and anticoagulants
When you take an anticoagulant (also called a blood thinner), you need to take extra steps to avoid bleeding problems, such as preventing falls and injuries. If you take warfarin, you also get regular blood tests and watch how much vitamin K you eat or drink. For more information about safety with warfarin, see:
Warfarin: Taking Your Medicine Safely.