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
outofafib avatar

I am a new writer here so greetings all. My Afib attack was of the stealth variety. I was not aware of anything until my stomach began to bother me. This was approximately five weeks before I landed in the hospital. It was on and off with some bouts of constipation. The condition began to worsen. The feeling was as if a hand was squeezing my stomach. I wondered if I had ulcers or something wrong with my intestines. I made an appointment to see a gastroenterologist. I never made it. The constipation became so bad I went to an emergency room to get medicinal relief. While there I took off my shoe and showed the doctor my right foot. It was swollen. Both feet were swollen. That was that. I was hooked up every heart gizmo in the room. I was informed that my ejection fraction and spiked downward to an eight and then bounced up to a fourteen. My official reading once I was in the cardiac ward clocked me at eighteen. My heart had been hammered so badly that I was in Congestive Heart Failure.  I was informed that my heart tissue was thin. My heart had dramatically increased in size. The expectation was that I would need electronics and a heart transplant. I was informed I would need to live in an assisted living facility. This was a lot of grim news coming in fast.

I had all the drugs that are used to treat someone with my condition. I did have one catheter ablation.

As I was in the hospital events gradually turned in my favor. I have been a gym ****** most of my life. My diet and nutritonal supplements follow that kind of habit. I commented on that to the nurse on my case. She stated that may be why I was as I was. She stated that others on the ward at the same level as me could not walk or talk.

I was released from the hospital under my own steam. At that point I went off script. I continued to use the traditional meds but studied nutritional supplements specific to heart and brain health. I used extreme doses. When I had my second heart scan fourt months after my ablation my heart ejection fraction was clocked at sixty-five.  I had made it. No electronics, no heart transplant, heart tissue and size in normal states. I have been able to successfuly maintain my state up to present time. I have not informed my cardiologists of what I did in the shadows. They know I did something. One of my cardiologists told me I was an odd patient. I heard a lot of Wow, Wow, Wow over and over.

This battle took place from 2012 until the winter of 2017. I was fifty-seven and as of this writing I am sixty-five. No more heart meds. No more Afib episodes. I still have to monitor my blood pressure. This is responding to exercise and nutritional adjustments.

I really do exist. Take care all.



Tmariez avatar

Hi everyone!  I had my first ablation on Friday October 30th.  I was nervous going into it but everything was over quickly and went smoothly.  My recovery was not fun but it could have been worse.  I had to lie still for 6 hours, which I know is a common thing.  My back wasn't too happy though 😊 Anyways, I stayed overnight to make sure everything was good and I was discharged in the morning.  I'm now home taking it easy.  I'm taking a couple of days off from work but I'll prob take rest of week off since I'm not in rush to go back 😊. Thanks for the encouragement and making me feel at ease of my decision.

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!


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