You are watching your favorite television program and suddenly, your heart starts fluttering uncontrollably in your chest. You are feeling short of breath and your palms are getting sweaty. You’re thinking to yourself, “Am I having a heart attack? You may be feeling a little lightheaded. Why does my heart feel like it wants to come out of my chest? Going to the Emergency Room is your next thought of action. The doctor comes in with EKG and blood work results. The good news is you are not having a heart attack. The bad news, “Have you ever heard of Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial Fibrillation or Afib is the most common type of irregular heart beat in ages 65 or older. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib. Both upper chambers called the atria do not function properly and beat irregularly (quiver). It is a leading cause of blood clots, heart failure, and strokes. When blood pools in the left atria it can form a clot that can dislodge and cause an ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes can cut off blood supply to the brain and time is of the essence. Please familiarize with FAST, signs of stroke. There are several symptoms you should be aware of that can indicate AFib. These include:
•reduced ability to exercise
•shortness of breath
If ever diagnosed with Afib there are 5 Objectives we want to keep in mind.
1. Rhythm control, restoring the heart to a normal heart beat.
2. Rate control, making sure tachycardia (fast heart rate) has subsided.
3. Prevention of thromboembolism (blood clots) such as stroke or pulmonary embolism.
4. Managing risk factors for stroke by using blood thinners, diet, exercise, lowering cholesterol, and managing diabetes.
5.Preventing additional heart arrhythmias. Finally, preventing heart failure and going into cardiac arrest.
What can I do to reduce my risk of complications associated with atrial fibrillation? Get regular physical activity. Get the heart pumping with low intensity to moderate exercise at least 3x a week.
Eat a heart-healthy diet, low in salt, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. Manage high blood pressure by lowering salt intake. Check your blood pressure daily and take all prescribed medications on time. Do not skip any dosages. Try to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine. Moderation is key. Don’t smoke. If you do make the decision to quit today, it takes 21 days to break a habit. Either go cold turkey or make a conscientious decision to cut back on the amount you smoke per day. But you have to start somewhere. Control your cholesterol and try to limit fatty foods, red meat, and fast food. Finally, maintain a healthy weight. Try to maintain a Body Mass Index (BMI) of no more than 25% body fat. Make the lifestyle changes today and become a healthier you. We are here to help you through this journey with Naturally Me. Take a look at our Eat Lite section and view delicious meals that can be prepared right at home. Also, our Finesse Fitness section has a variety of low-intensity to moderate workouts that you can do in 15min or less. 15 minutes that can save your life.
We want you to be aware of stroke symptoms as well. Familiarize yourself with FAST:
FACE: Face dropping. Ask your loved one to smile. Does one side of his or her face droop?
• ARMS: Arm weakness. Ask your loved one to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
• SPEECH: Speech difficulty. Ask your loved one to repeat a simple phrase. Does his or her speech sound slurred or strange?
• TIME: Time is crucial. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or your loved one has any of these symptoms
Please get annual check ups and visit your primary care provider. Be compliant with all your meds and use medicine organizers to help you keep up with them. We want to help you stick around to play with your great grandchildren and live a long fulfilling life. Healthier families for generations to come is our Mission. Till Next Time.