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
Tmariez avatar

Hi!  I'm new to this group.  Hoping *** help me figure out my health.  A year ago, I was diagnosed with Afib and cardiomyopathy.  I'm struggling With how I got to this point.  Is it from stress or do I really have a heart condition.  That is a question I'm figuring out.  I'm generally a healthy person where I exercise, eat well and get about 7 to 8 hours of sleep.  Recently, I have been recommended for an ablation.  I'm not sure of the recommendation and have questions out to my cardiologist.  I'm in my early 40s and wonder if anyone out there is or was in similar boat as me.  Thanks!

quilabell avatar

Hi all!

I'm post-op day 5 from my first ablation (PVI cryotherapy). Although it has been a rocky road, two things are really concerning me and I would appreciate any input from you.

First, My fatigue is crazy. I feel like I have the flu without flu symptoms. I can only do a few of my ADL's, then pretty much need to lay down again. Is this usual and if so,how long until it improves? Ugh. I feel like I'm 95.

Second, I've had pretty awful headaches since I woke up from the surgery. I do have a long history of daily tension headaches, and these are the same except they do not respond to medication. I now have scintillating scotomas daily and the pain is more severe. I do not have any neurological symptoms, although I did have left hand and left cheek numbness for a few minutes (no motor defecits) that resolved when the scotoma resolved today. The headache pain is bi-temporal, throbbing and radiates to my teeth. Has anyone experienced these symptoms or should I go in? The LAST thing I want to see is a medical facility right now.

Incidentally, I am an Emergency Medicine/Trauma PA-C(Physician Assistant) with 21 years experience, 49 years old, no co-morbidities, paroxysmal a.fib x 5 years (one episode each 9 months until recently when all hell broke loose), history of Rheumatic fever and recent valve repair last month.

And no, I don't want to consult one of the many docs that I work with because this is not their specialty and they are all convinced that I am dying, which equals huge and unnecessary work ups.

Thanks in advance for any input!


hughesrl73 avatar

I have recently returned to active afib after being afib free for 8 years after having an ablation procedure in late 2011. I love my EP and he has given me the choices of: 1) living with it, 2) cardioversion (never had one), or 3) amioderone (sort of scares me).

I've also just learned that I have done some damage to my lungs (not sure of extent yet - still getting tests).  

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed, scared, and trying to rationalize that this is my reality and I have to learn to accept it, but I honestly feel like I need some professional help like counseling.  I have a lot to be thankful for, but at 74, would hope to have a bit more time to enjoy this life.

Has anyone else done this and found it to be helpful. I'm just not sure where to start right now.




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