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
Azboomer avatar

Hi A-Fibbers, 

As an active, semi-retired 72 year old, I have been recently diagnosed (April 2019) with paroxysmal AF and my cardiologist has had me on Metoprolol (25mg) and Eliquis for 2 months with minimal side effects. However, I do have a slow H/R at times in the mid-40's.I have had 24 hour+ AF episodes about once or twice per month for 3 months. My sleep apnea is well managed on a CPAP. I exercise at the gym about 4-5 times a week and just started a Yoga class which may help my AF.

Today, my new EP told me to drop Metoprolol and start Multaq (400 mg) twice a day. He said it should correct my slow H/R and has a good chance at stopping my AF episodes. However, my concern is the possible side effects (especially GI effects) from Multaq that I read about on this forum. On one hand, I could stay with Metoprolol which I have safely adjusted to--"if it ain't broke, don't fix it". On the other hand, I think Multaq may have a better chance of long term AF success, if I can handle the side effects.

Fortunately, my cardiologist and my EP are both top rated and highly respected in their medical fields in the Phoenix area.

What advice would you have for an AF newbie like me?  Stay with Metoprolol or try Multaq? I appreciate your inputs.

Thanks for making this forum a very valuable resource for us new A-Fibbers!

Best Regards,


Salitria1 avatar

I was diagnosed with AFIB on May 10th, 2019. I am  42 years old, and I am a single parent to my five year old son. I am terrified. I don’t know what the future holds for me with this condition. I have never been ill before and never been on meds until now. I’m now on Eliquis and Amiodorone. When I first began taking theses meds last week they made me nauseous and gave me headaches that wouldn’t subside. I work in corrections and I’m afraid to be in such an aggressive environment while on blood thinners. I have to work and make a living. I’m also scheduled to start nursing school in September. Due to AFIB, should I put School on hold. I want to see my son grow into a man. I feel devastated by this diagnosis. I see a EP at The University of Chicago Hospital in June. What kinds of questions should I ask!!! I thank everyone in advance for their time.

rtrigo avatar


I am new to the group.  I had an epidode in 2013 after working out where my heartbeat got up to 235bpm.  I was given a hit by the defib in the amublance, two months later I had a catheter ablation.  Doc basically told me to try and live a stress free life.  (yeah sure)  Fast forward six years to 2019, I have another episode and have to get hit again by the defib in the amubalnce.  No surgery this time.  The doc pumped me with adrenaline but could not duplicate what happened.  He said the only link to the 2013 episode was the low level of potassium. He changed my BP meds and eat leafy greens.  Since I've been hit twice by the defib I've noticed my hearing isnt so great.  I've experienced flashback where I can feel the electricity run through my chest.  Just wondering if anyone else has had such side effects.  That defib is no joke and I felt like a mac truck hit me but i survived.

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