Lifestyle Changes for Atrial Fibrillation & Atrial Flutter in Adults
Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter are associated with conditions that affect the heart, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and heart attack, so following a heart healthy lifestyle is important.
Heart specialists at NYU Langone’s Heart Rhythm Center recommend eating healthfully, exercising, and managing sleep apnea to help prevent symptoms of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter.
Manage Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea, in which an airway blockage repeatedly interrupts breathing while you sleep, is associated with cardiac arrhythmias. Doctors have found an association between sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation.
NYU Langone’s Heart Rhythm Center has a remote monitor that can be used to help our experts diagnose sleep apnea. Your doctor may recommend therapies to reduce symptoms. These may include reducing or eliminating alcohol and sedative use, changing your sleep position to prevent gravity from contributing to an airway instruction, or using a device that prevents airway interruptions while you sleep.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet plays a major role in preventing heart disease. At NYU Langone, physicians collaborate with experts at the Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease to help patients understand dietary triggers and learn how to make healthy food choices.
For example, unhealthy cholesterol levels can cause arteries to become fully or partially blocked, which can lead to heart disease and atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter.
You can improve your cholesterol levels by getting regular exercise, avoiding saturated fat and sugary carbohydrates, and consuming 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day. Fiber can be found in apples, beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, oatmeal, and whole grains.
Caffeine and alcohol may trigger symptoms of arrhythmias. Caffeine has been shown to speed up heart rate, and alcohol can trigger sleep apnea and raise your blood pressure. As a result, your doctor may advise drinking in moderation and reducing your caffeine intake.
Studies have shown that too much stress can raise your blood pressure and trigger atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. To better manage stress, your NYU Langone doctor may advise getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and taking other steps to relax. Your doctor may recommend breathing exercises, yoga, or acupuncture, which are available through NYU Langone’s integrative health services.
Ask About Over-the-Counter Medications
Some over-the-counter cough and cold medications contain stimulants, which may trigger an arrhythmia. Ask your NYU Langone doctor which medications or herbal treatments are right for you and use them as directed.
Exercise can help you lose weight and reduce high blood pressure. Taking a brisk 30-minute walk every day can improve your heart health and reduce the risk of triggering an arrhythmia. Your doctor determines the kind of physical activity that’s right for you.