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
barbara1642 avatar

Do patients with a-fib ever get pacemakers?  I haven't posted lately because I've been fine.......and having other issues:  dental & cataracts.  The joys of getting   

So do we fibbers ever get pacemakers?  2 days ago I had an "incident", and I think my heart wants to go into a-fib, but it doesn't quite make it.  I have an appt w/my cardio this morning.   


I'm just curious..............


live long & prosper

Barbi1 avatar

hi I’m new , I was diagnosed with Ischemic in May , had surgery 8 May I went AFIB on the table , I hope I’m saying this right .  I’m on xarelto . I need advice on eating right .  Thanks Barbi 

maria12045 avatar

This concerns my father.

Age: 62, caucasian male

Location: Greece

Weight: 71kg

Height: approximately 175cm

Diagnosis: dilated cardiomyopathy and atrial fibrillation (he is currently not in a-fib: his atrial fibrillation stopped after ablation)

Other conditions: none besides retinal detachment in one eye, and raised intraocular pressure in the other which he treats with eyedrops; and two instances of bells palsy in the past.

Current prescription:

Xarelto 50mg (rivaroxaban)

Entresto 100mg (sacubitril/valsartan)

Carvepen 25mg (carvedilol)

Eleveon 50mg (eplerenone)

He also took Zyloric 100mg (allopurinol) to manage uric levels which he quit along with the above.


September 2016 my dad went to ER with chest/abdominal pain. They found he had EF of 24% and left ventricle 60mm.

His latest check up, April 2019 he had a cardiac ultrasound showing EF of 55-60%. Left ventricle approx 53mm.

On June 7, 2019 (three weeks ago now) he stopped all meds without telling anyone -not doctors or family- because he feels he doesn‘t need them. He had back pain, joint pain, fatigue and complained of insomnia and cited these as his reasons for stopping. However, I recall him beginning questioning the necessity of meds as soon as he got rid of the AF by ablation. He has been reading studies about the long term side effects of heart medications and this motivated him to quit as well.

Since finding out three days ago, myself, family and his doctors have advised him to restart but he is ignoring this advice because he says he feels great since the side effect symptoms (back pain, fatigue, etc.) have stopped and he is checking his blood pressure regularly as a safety measure.

As to why he would doubt the medicines when it has been demonstrated that they work, I believe the answer is the following: since the beginning, his doctors described the cause of his condition as a chicken and egg situation (did heart enlargement cause the atrial fibrillation or vice versa?). I believe my dad started to attribute the cardiomyopathy to the a-fib. Therefore, since he is currently physiological (despite the fact that this a result of therapy) he thinks he only has to watch out for another episode of a-fib.. He thinks the medications have already done their job and are now just damaging his health unnecessarily. But he needs to be explained that they still are doing their job. And that the risks outweigh the side effects.

I am hoping for information about how the medicines are still contributing to his heart. And about the risks of stopping. But any feedback at all from patients, family of patients as well as medical professionals would be appreciated so much as I am at a loss.

Thank you for very much for reading.

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