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
chickie63 avatar

Has anyone experienced "fog head" while on metoprolol? I'm currently tapering off to cardizem.

wsjuly avatar

Hello, ladies. Lots been happening on my end. In January, I went to my regular doctor and he said that everything, including lab results, looked normal. Was very pleased with the results. I shared with him my thoughts concerning the flu and the A Fib being combined causes of my stroke. He said that the A Fib puts one in the danger of having a stroke. Which means the flu could have been a coincidental situation. I did read through the article you gave me about the A Fib and flu and the studies from Hawaii that were trying to determine some sort of correlation between the two.

Hope you all have been having a good year thus far. 

johnnynemo avatar

Hello all. I had paroxysmal Afib (3 short episodes) 12-13 years ago, all within a few months. That was in my mid 50s. Because of that history I bought an Apple Watch, which finally paid off for me. Last Tuesday I went into Afib, this time with RVR. A couple of nights in the hospital to slow me down and home, follow up with my cardiologist next week. I've been on Diltiazem for 4 years, Metoprolol prior. The only change so far is to switch the Diltiazem to max dosage, so 240 twice a day, from 180 twice a day. So now at 67, I figure I'll have persistent Afib with RVR. I'm a USMC Vietnam vet too, if any others are here.

Anyway, I'm going through a period of feeling vulnerable and fragile, which I hate. I got over it for the most part the first time (except buying an Apple Watch shows me it's always been in the back of my mind) but am struggling a bit now that it's back. I'm assuming I'll be on a modern blood thinner/anticoagulant and am curious about others experiences with these drugs. I'm sure I'll feel somewhat better mentally after my cardiologist appointment.

Thanks for listening.

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