Creating an Environment for Heart-Healthy Living

Creating an Environment for Heart-Healthy Living

Many issues related to AFib may be outside of your control, but there are some ways you can reduce your risks that may even reduce your experience of AFib symptoms. A person’s environment can either increase or decrease your likelihood for making consistently healthy choices. The good news is that by being intentional and creating room in your life for healthy habit development, you can help set yourself up for not only making overall healthy choices, but also for managing your AFib well.

Key Opportunities for a Healthy Home Environment

Go Smoke-Free at Home

Can cigarettes be a trigger for AFib?: Cigarettes are a stimulant that has been linked to increased atrial fibrillation. If you have been diagnosed with AFib, it is critically important that you stop smoking. The list of reasons to quit smoking is very long but avoiding atrial fibrillation is a very important reason for anyone interested in AFib wellness. People who regularly smoke are about 50% more likely than nonsmokers to develop atrial fibrillation. Additionally, treatment options become much more limited for people who smoke.

AFib, Smoking, and Stroke Risks: Smoking can double your risk for stroke. Smoking cigarettes also raises your blood pressure, which is a risk factor related to both atrial fibrillation and stroke. Talk with your healthcare provider to learn more about the best smoking-cessation plan for you. Learn more about how "quitters win!"

Create a Restful Bedtime Routine

Getting a good night’s sleep is not just a “nice idea.” It’s important for your cardiovascular health and some sleep problems, like sleep apnea, are directly correlated with atrial fibrillation. Even if you are not one who suffers from sleep apnea, giving your body a chance to rest will help your overall heart health and your symptoms and experience with atrial fibrillation.

Quality sleep helps stabilize our mood and reduces our experience of stress while psychological distress, like anxiety and depression, has been linked to an increase of symptom severity and more frequently recurring episodes of AFib. But don’t let those facts keep you up at night worrying! Instead, practice habits for heart-healthy sleeping.

Create a Plan for Medication Success

Keeping your medications filled and taking them at the same time every day will give you better and more consistent results with AFib management. Many people successfully add a medication routine to their lives by making a certain time and place for it in their home and schedule. Provided your medication instructions do not require that you store them in their original packaging, keeping a pill-a-day box can help, as well as setting a special alarm to help you remember to take it at the same time each day. Some people pair their medication with something they do every day, like brushing their teeth. When you pick up a new prescription, set reminders two or three days beforehand so you don’t forget to pick up your refills. Find what works for you and set up your environment for success.

If you are taking warfarin and self-monitoring your blood coagulation time (or INR) at home, look at what you can do to create a convenient space for testing and recording your results. Setting up organized systems is easy for some people and others may appreciate guidance. Find an appropriately-sized container where you can store all supplies and any tracking tools you may be using. Additionally, you may find it helpful to keep a notebook handy to write down any discoveries or questions that come up. Store it in a handy location so that you can access it as often as directed, and make a system to remind yourself when it’s time to remeasure, call in your results to the monitoring company, or touch base with your doctor’s office.

Communicate Your AFib Management Routine

Some people are more reluctant than others to share their progress, invite friends and family to accompany them to doctor appointments, and allow people who care about them to help. Regardless of your personal style, it may be a good idea to let someone know where you keep your medications, what pharmacy fills your prescription, and what you’re doing to manage your health.

If you’re having surgery or procedures, the time you’ve spent to make an organized system of care, medication-taking, and note-keeping can help you feel better about asking for some help when you may need it most.

There are many more ways to help you set up your environment for success. Join us in the community forum to continue discussing this with peers who are also working to build their healthiest lives.

Recent Discussions From The At Home Forum
rfedd avatar

Home from hospital today. Had a spinal fusion done on Monday. L5 S1. I was off Pradaxa for 10 days, which was a bit nerve wracking.  But back on tonight. Seems surgery went well, and I am able to take short walks. My thanks to the surgeon and staff.

wsjuly avatar

Hello, ladies. Know I've been away quite a while. Guess you could say that things have been somewhat busy; the usual chores and daily things and such. Hope all's well with you and everyone else on the forum. My heart is basically the same, not too weaker and, of course, not too much stronger, either. Generally the same. The defibrillator keeps a close eye on my heart rhythm. I thank God for this day especially because it is my birthday. I made it to 54 years because of God's grace and mercy. You all take care of yourselves and we'll talk again soon. 

Patio avatar

Anyone have experience with this? I began a low dose  of topamax this past week , at the direction of my neurologist, and approval of my EP, for essential tremors that have become worse over the past two years since my diagnosis of afib and aflutter. The usual beta blockers aren’t a good option for me as I am bradycardia except when in afib or aflutter. Today when I took the first full dose of 50 mg I knew I was in trouble as I felt OFF all day and finally as my rhythm med wore off went into full blown aflutter with HR of 148. After an hour of deep breathing,drinking water,  etc, I felt close enough to-my next dose of  Tikosyn so I took it, as well as my dose of Magnesium and within half an hour I was in synus rhythm. I have not had an episode for many months and have no doubt what started it. I am upset that i had no warning..but perhaps I am the outlier. Anyone else? And what do I do with this information? And no I will not ease myself off this..I am done! It was awful!

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