That irregular heartbeat you have makes you five times more likely to have a stroke, according to the medical experts at St. Luke’s Heart and Vascular Center. So it’s important that you pay attention to three straightforward heart-health rules that can help you prevent an atrial fibrillation episode. (Following your doctor’s orders, including taking prescription medicine, comes first.)
Reduce stress. That includes both mental and physical stress. So, take deep, calming breaths when in a tense situation. Better yet, avoid things you know will cause stress, whether it’s traffic jams or being late or avoidable confrontations or lifting too much weight at the gym. Why? Cardiologists at St. Luke’s Heart and Vascular Center says that stress can compound irregularities in your heartbeat, or further aggravate damaged heart muscle. Sign up for that yoga class, practice meditation, and make sure you have relaxation techniques you can rely on.
Stay hydrated. We know — you’re constantly told to drink more water. Here’s the reason: your body relies on water to keep electrolytes in balance. When the level of potassium or magnesium in your body is wrong, it can trigger a reaction in your heart, says electrophysiologists at St. Luke’s University Health Network. Note: Staying hydrated does not mean drinking alcohol. In fact, studies have found that heavy alcohol consumption — especially drinking too much at one time — is correlated with a higher number of aFib episodes.
Sleep soundly. Electrophysiologists at St. Luke’s Heart and Vascular Center explain that interrupted sleep — whether insomnia, sleep apnea or simply a pattern of continually disturbed sleep — can cause scarring in your heart. Follow the rules for better sleep: computers and other electronics off an hour before bedtime, a dark and quiet room, sensible and consistent bedtimes.