Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition in which your heart rate gets abnormally fast and irregular.;When you are resting your normal heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute. In atrial fibrillation heart rate can go significantly higher than 100 causing dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness.
You may begin to notice that your heart is pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly but in some cases of atrial fibrillation you may not experience any symptoms. Atrial fibrillation is not a life threatening condition if its treatment is done properly.
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Any damage or abnormality caused to the basic structure of your heart can distort the electric signals reflected as atrial fibrillation.
In some cases of atrial fibrillation there is no damage to the heart, so the actual causes of irregular Heartbeat are also not known. Such condition is called lone atrial fibrillation and it doesn't cause any serious complications.
However, in most if the cases of atrial fibrillation the damage to your heart is generally caused by
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease
- Congenital heart defects
- Lung disease
- Heart surgery
- Overactive thyroid gland
- Viral infections
- Sleep apnea
- Certain medications
The symptoms of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter which is a less severe form of abnormal heart rate condition are similar and are as under.
Some people with atrial fibrillation do not have any symptoms their condition is generally discovered during physical examination of their heart condition.
Following factors can contribute or increase the risk of you having atrial fibrillation:
- Family history - genetic plays a vital role in developing atrial fibrillation. If your parents or grandparents had it then you are likely to inherit it.
- Age - old age due to wear and tear of internal organs is a cause of many heart related problems and atrial fibrillation is no exception.
- High blood pressure - uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to atrial fibrillation. You can control your high BP with Lifestyle changes and medication to reduce the risk.
- Heart disease - any heart condition can be a big risk factor for atrial fibrillation. Heart conditions such as congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, heart valve problems, heart attacks and heart surgeries are done of the most common risk factors.
- Obesity - your excess weight puts extra pressure on your heart. Over a period of time he can turn into atrial fibrillation and other heart related complications.
- Chronic diseases - many other chronic conditions such as overactive thyroid, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, chronic lung and kidney diseases and sleep apnea can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is not a life threatening condition but it does produce a lot of discomfort. Doctors generally use one of the following methods for treatment
- Preventive Medication - to prevent stroke as people with Atrial fibrillation are at higher risks of stroke
- Medication -to control heart rate
- Electric shock- to resume normal heart rate and rhythm
- Pacemaker - pacemaker is fitted to normalise the heart rhythm.
1. Exercise Daily
Indulging in daily physical activities which involves stress reduction, muscle flexing such as walking, jogging and swimming helps to reduce high blood pressure. High BP is one if the main risk factors for atrial fibrillation.
2. Practice Relaxing Breathing
Stress is another big contributor for all kinds of heart diseases. Learn to control stress by practicing breathing exercises on a daily basis. Breathing and meditation no only reduce your risk of atrial fibrillation but also improve your overall quality of life.
3. Eat Protein Rich Diet
Eat fruits and vegetables that increase your magnesium and potassium levels. Both these minerals our heart healthy elements. Both magnesium deficiency and potassium deficiencies can cause many heart problems.
4. Limit Caffeine, Alcohol and Tobacco
Where is research have found a strong correlation between caffeine, alcohol and tobacco with atrial fibrillation.
Reduce consumption of alcohol and if possible completely avoid it if you are suspecting to have heart Rhythm problems.
Caffeine consumption is a very debatable topics as it offers both benefits and disadvantages in almost equal quantum. So depending on your condition you have to increase or decrease caffeine consumption. Since you have atrial fibrillation or are suffering from risk factors that may contribute atrial fibrillation then you should reduce your caffeine consumption below 400 ml daily.
Smoking is bad for your lungs and heart. Quit smoking if you are a smoker and avoid passive smoking even if you are not a smoker.
5. Reduce Inflammations
Inflammation caused by free radicals induces oxidative stresses and cause heart problems. Eat and drink anti-inflammatory foods. Avoid fatty foods red meats and other high fat and cholesterol containing foods to reduce the risks of atrial fibrillation.
Be careful of certain lifestyle and food habits which can trigger atrial fibrillation. Take following precautions.
- Reduce Alcohol - Excess alcohol consumption can increase your risk of atrophy atrial fibrillation my 35% as compared to a non drinker according to you a study published in the American journal of clinical nutrition in 2010 (1). So control your alcohol consumption or give it up.
- Control Caffeine - the same study indicated higher consumption of caffeine above 400 milligrams increase risks of atrial fibrillation significantly. So take control on your coffee consumption.
- Avoid Cough and Cold Medicine - medications such as dextromethorphan and other similar cough syrups can trigger atrial fibrillation.
You can use the following tips to deal to stay healthy with Atrial fibrillation
Get get yourself early check up to avoid atrial fibrillation become complicated.
- Eat heart healthy diet
- Stop smoking
- Reduce weight
- Increase physical activity
- Reduce stress
- Avoid over the counter cough and cold syrups
Though atrial fibrillation is not a life threatening condition, you must still control it to stay healthy for a longer period. Uncontrolled Afib can lead to other complications that can be serious and life threatening.