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
Duchess avatar

Had an ablation at Loyola in Chicago 13th of December I'm now in afib 90% of the time the most painful I have ever had. It's completely debilitating I'm out of AFib for a few hours and then right back into it  one right after the other. until January 1st. January 1st through the 15th I had no a7 no symptoms and then it started all over again 18 days of pure hell . A week after the  ablation they did the thyroid test I was in  the hyperthyroidism. I had told them that I had been diagnosed with Graves disease  . When I first went in for the consultation they took notes. Roughly a week after the ablation. I was in such bad shape my husband and I went in to talk to him. He told us I was just healing. never took a blood test before the surgery. I am an absolute misery I cannot get out of bed I'm out of a afib for to three hours and then in afib 18 hours or more I have severe pain in the right side of my chest and they told me it was all in my head I don't know where to go from here has anybody got any suggestions. I cannot lie flat on the bed my chest hurts so bad I have to sleep sitting straight up of what little sleep I can get please has anybody got any kind of suggestions

Jeanamo815 avatar

Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you this week and hope all goes well!

Your friend,


LuisT avatar

Good evening,

 I am a 45-year-old male who was diagnosed with Afib  on December 18, 2018.  I now have gone through a second cycle of medications and don’t believe in their positive affects.  My cardiologist started me on Diltiazem 30mg 3x a day,  after multiple hypertension episodes and negative side effects I discontinue the medication.  My doctor went on the next regimen of Losartan 25mg, Metoprolol 25mg and Eloquist 5mg during all this time. 


 I have talk to my cardiologist concerning the side effects, I have also done my research as well. But it seems as though some of the side effects that I have explain to my doctor or not necessarily due to the heart medication. She and other doctors believe it is potential anxiety.   My side effects include the following;  headaches, dizziness, jitters,  stomach discomfort (gas), uneasy feelings,  A cool sensation on left chest and sometimes radiating to center of chest, head pulsating, weak, weight loss (20+ lbs).  I have always been athletic and would go to the gym regularly. Now on these new meds I do not find the desire to get into the gym and work out. 

 My question to all of you that have taken these medications is this. Have you felt these types of side effects or anything different from what I have described.  I have not had another episode of proximal Afib  since it was noticed in the hospital the first time. My echo cardio gram and a stress test reveal that everything is fine and strong with my heart and no blockages. So another question would be why am I on these medications?  I do understand the preventative philosophy concerning the condition but it seems like the only thing that is going wrong with me is hypertension. Is hypertension a side affect of  Afib? 

Any insight to my question would be greatly appreciated.

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