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Understanding Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation is a an irregular and/or erratic heartbeat that can increase your risk of stroke or heart attack. 

Some of the possible causes or contributors to AFIB include high blood pressure, history of heart attack, sleep apnea, obesity, type II diabetes, and coronary artery disease. 

High blood pressure has been shown to increase the risk of Afib by 56% and Type II diabetes increases the risk by 40%.  Fortunately, managing weight and blood pressure by eating a heart healthy diet and engaging in physical activity (*with your doctor’s consent) can help you manage your AFIB symptoms and reduce your risk of a heart attack, while also improving your over all health. 

What does a heart healthy diet entail? 

The American Heart Association recommends

  • Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day
  • Chose fiber rich WHOLE grains like oats, bulgur, whole wheat, barley, amaranth and rye instead of refined grains
  • Eat a variety of fish at least twice per week to increased heart health omega 3 fats in your diet
  • Chose skim or low-fat dairy
  • Incorporate nuts and legumes as often as possible 
  • Limit cholesterol to less than 300mg/day by choosing poultry without the skin and prepare it by baking or broiling vs. frying and refrain from eating red meat
  • Limit saturated and trans fat to less than 6% of your total calories. For someone eating a 2,000-calorie day diet, that is about 13 grams of saturated fat or the equivalent of 1TBS of butter. 
  • Limit sodium to less than 2300mg a day, but if possible 1500mg is ideal
  • Limit or eliminate alcohol 
  • Abstain from smoking cigarettes 

In addition to following a heart healthy diet, engaging in 150minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise will improve your heart health as well. That’s the equivalent of 30 minutes of powerwalking 5 days a week. 

Following a heart healthy diet can be beneficial to anyone’s health but in order to empower you to take charge of your AFIB, there a few more specific measures you can follow in order manage your diagnosis.