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
Arline3366 avatar

Does anyone cut the 25mg table of metoprolol in half due to shortness of breath when walking and/or dizziness?  I asked my primary care dr and he did not recommend cutting the tablet because it may lead to AFib.  I plan to ask my cardio dr when I next see him.  I currently take 25mg both morning and night.  I'm in my 80s now and am wondering if it's too much.

Spencer avatar

Thor's final walk was early this morning.  My wife and I walked out onto a deserted beach near the house early this morning and spread his ashes on the beach. He loved this beach.  We had to stay in a hotel right across the street from this beach while we waited to buy our current house.   So we would walk each morning before work (4:30 AM), and he would walk off leash on the beach for miles.  He ran around like a puppy nut.  

Pix is from a few years back; we were coming home from a trail jog.   

 

bshersey avatar

1.) Doctors, EPs in particular, undersell ablation recovery. I had my ablation on a Wednesday. My doctor said I could resume full exercise on the following Sunday and start work Monday. Not quite. I'm four months out now and just starting to feel like doing more than my basic daily walking. I was exhausted and barely functional for at least a month afterward.

2.) Everyone's recovery is different. Some people have no pain. My mom has had four ablations and said she never had any chest pain. Others feel a lot of pain. Some people are up and running quickly. Others say it takes 6 or even 9 months to feel fully recovered. Follow what your body says first. Guidelines are just that. They aren't etched in stone.

3.) Be your own advocate with the medical folks. I took myself to the ER four times in the weeks after my ablation for chest pain. No matter how trivial some of the doctors made me feel, I am happy I did it. It got me to the front of the line for a nuclear stress test and a cardiac cath, which I should have had before the ablation. I passed both and now breathe a lot easier. Now my post-ablation pains are just another pain to deal with, not a potential cardiac event.

4.) Medications have side effects and if one isn't working for you, let your doctor know. You two can always try others.

5.) Forums like this are a big help. Once I found this community I was able to pose questions, get answers and share my pain - literally - with folks who understood. It gave me a lot more stamina and ammunition for dealing with the medical establishment on an ongoing basis.

Those are my top 5. I could easily have done 10. If you have any other knowledge to share, please go ahead and reply to me and the rest of the community.

 

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