Control Your Risk for Atrial Fibrillation (Irregular Heartbeat)
“My heart skipped a beat!” isn’t just an expression—it can actually happen. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of irregular heartbeat that can increase your risk for heart failure, death, and stroke. And while you can’t control certain risk factors, such as your age or gender, there are several steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing AF.
What Is AF?
A normal heartbeat begins with an electrical signal. In people with AF, the signal is fired sporadically and the heartbeat loses its rhythm. This can cause blood to pool in the heart and form clots. Sometimes, these blood clots can lead to stroke.
Manage your AF risk by maintaining these healthy habits:
- Eat a diet full of different whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
- Try to get in 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Break down the 150 minutes into as many smaller sessions as needed.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
- Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels within a healthy range using lifestyle changes or medication, if needed.
- Visit your health care provider regularly and take all your medicines as prescribed.
In many cases, AF has no symptoms and is only discovered when a patient receives a physical exam. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or pressure
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Fluttering or thumping in the chest
Get medical help right away if you notice any of these symptoms. And if you think you are having a heart attack or stroke, call 911 and get to the nearest emergency room immediately.
I (Don’t) Got Rhythm
To help your heart find its rhythm, you may need to see a specialist. Click here for information about our renowned heart and vascular care team and the services we have to offer. We’ll get you back to the beat!