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Atrial Fibrillation – The Nutrition and Lifestyle Connection
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
Your heart has four chambers that beat in a rhythm; two atria and two ventricles. The atria are the upper chambers. AF happens when the atria beat too fast and irregularly. They “quiver” instead of pumping properly.
AF is the most common arrhythmia worldwide. In fact, in the US, you have a 25% risk of getting it in your lifetime. The number of people with AF is increasing and is expected to increase further as the population ages.
Symptoms of AF include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and reduced ability to exercise. Sometimes you may not experience any symptoms.
Who is most likely to get AF? About 70% of people with AF are between 65-85 years old. AF is more common in men than women.
Why should we be concerned with AF? People with AF have a steep increase in risk of blood clots, heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and death. These are because the blood is not being pumped around the body properly.
Having AF also triples the risk for dementia.
AF is a serious condition that requires medical advice. Treatment involves medications; but, can also involve pacemakers or implantable defibrillators.
How do you get AF?
1 – Managing Conditions
There are several medical, diet, and lifestyle approaches to managing medical conditions.
NOTE: None of these are a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any of these conditions, make sure you’re being monitored regularly.
1a – Manage blood sugar and type 2 diabetes
1b – Manage blood lipids
1c – Manage high blood pressure
1d – Manage sleep apnea
1e – Manage hyperthyroidism
1f – Reduce obesity
2 – Diet and Lifestyle
There are several diet, and lifestyle approaches to managing medical conditions.
NOTE: Speak with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle.
2a – Stop smoking
2b – Reduce alcohol
2c – Caffeine – Some is good, too much is not
2d – Eat fish, but don’t supplement fish oil
2e – Vitamin D: Don’t overdo it
2f – Niacin (vitamin B3): Don’t overdo it
2g – Get enough moderate exercise
2h – Consider acupuncture
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