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Living with Afib – Lifestyle Management

Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is a common type of heart arrhythmia—an irregularity in the heart’s beating rhythm. It occurs when signals to the heart that coordinate your heartbeat fails to work properly. Some symptoms include fluttering sensations in the chest and feeling like your heart is skipping beats.

Getting diagnosed with atrial fibrillation can be daunting at first. It seems like the condition will dictate your way of living from that moment. However, there are many things you can do to control your Afib symptoms and still be able to live your life normally. Here are some practical tips to help you effectively manage your health condition.

1. Talk to your doctor about how Afib is affecting your life

Even the best cardiologist would not know how you are really feeling, unless you tell them. They will not know how you feel inside or if you are getting better (or worse) with the treatment they tailor for you, if you keep mum about it. Do you limit yourself from doing certain activities that might trigger your Afib symptoms? What activities are you allowed and not allowed to do because of your condition? Ask your Singapore cardiologist heart doctor about how you can pace yourself when doing certain activities and when you should call your cardiologist immediately.

2. Take your medications as prescribed by your cardiologist

Just like any other health problem, medication is an important part of the treatment plan. You will be able to manage your heart rate and your risk of stroke more effectively if you take your medications the right way. If you experience any side effect, make sure to let your cardiologist know about it. Never stop or start taking medications without consulting your doctor about it. Over time, the health condition can change the size and shape of the heart and how the electrical signals behave. Your medications will need to be changed or adjusted, and your heart surgeon may recommend getting therapies like cardioversion to help the heart work in normal rhythm.

3. Limit your meat and dairy intake

As what you have probably heard in most health news, animal-based foods, like cheese, butter, ice cream, whole milk and meats, contain an incredible amount of saturated fats, which is not good for the heart. Limit your saturated fat only to 10 percent of your daily calorie requirement by choosing lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Also, try to avoid fried and processed food.

4. Include more fish in your diet

Fish contain unsaturated fats, making it the ideal type of meat for people with Afib. Your cardiologist will likely recommend having first at least two to three times a week. However, when preparing, avoid deep fried and saucy recipes. Stick to healthier cooking techniques, like broiling, steaming and grilling.

5. Enjoy making yourself heart-healthy meals

Do not trick yourself into eating healthy foods, but preparing them in a fattening way. Perhaps, you have lean meat, but instead of say roasting them, you fry them or load them up with lots of seasoning. If you have vegetables, steam them instead of sautéing them and smothering them with butter, salt or sugar. Finally, if your recipe does require some fat, use unsaturated ones like pure coconut oil and olive oil, instead of lard or butter.

6. Keep your exercises moderate

Moderate exercise is good for most people, especially to those with atrial fibrillation. However, make sure not to excessively raise your heart rate by avoiding strenuous exercises. It is believed that Afib risk is higher in endurance athletes, such as cyclists and runners. So, people diagnosed with Afib are encouraged to only perform light to moderate exercises, while avoiding extreme sports altogether. If you feel like an Afib symptom is about to attack while you are in the middle of your exercise, stop what you’re doing and follow the recommendations of your cardiologist in managing attacks.

7. Avoid taking over-the-counter allergy and cold medicines

Many over-the-counter medicines available here in Singapore contain stimulants, which can speed up heart rate and possibly trigger Afib attack. Stimulants can also interfere with the Afib medications you are taking to control your heartbeat rhythm. Some OTC medications to avoid are nasal sprays, allergy medications, some herbal medicines and cough and cold medicine. Always consult your heart doctor before taking any OTC medication.

8. Find ways to reduce stress

Emotional stress is said to be one of the major triggers for symptoms in many people diagnosed with Afib here in Singapore. Having this unpredictable disease is already worrying; add in the stress you get from your day-to-day life, and you’re on the way to the onset of an Afib episode. By reading reputable sites like from Singapore to increase your heart knowledge, to reduce stress, identify first the source of the stress and adopt your own coping strategy. For example, learn to say ‘no’ when ask to take on more tasks than you can comfortably handle. Practice positive self-talk and deep breathing exercises. Most importantly, get enough sleep and have some time to enjoy the things you love doing.

9. Get screened regularly

Whether or not you’re diagnosed with Afib, regular heart screening is a must. Especially for people Afib, regular heart screening lets you and your heart surgeon monitor your cardiovascular health. By performing such this test, your heart doctor can formulate or adjust your treatment plan according to what’s suitable for your case.

Just because you are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation does not mean you are stuck to live a sedentary life. Keeping in mind these pro-active tips will help you manage your condition and still be able to live your life to the fullest.

*This list is compiled in no particular order.*