How to Prevent an Atrial Fibrillation Attack

Atrial fibrillation often shortened to AFib is an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm that can lead to serious health complications. If you or someone you know is living with AFib, understanding the condition and how to prevent attacks is crucial. Below the team at AMS Cardiology explores what AFib is, preventative measures to stop it and various treatment options.

What Is AFib?

AFib occurs when the electrical signals in the upper chambers of your heart (the atria) become chaotic, causing the chambers to quiver instead of beating effectively. This irregular heartbeat can lead to a racing pulse, shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue. In some cases, AFib can also increase the risk of stroke, blood clots and heart failure.

How Do You Know If You Have AFib?

For someone that has AF, symptoms can include:

  • Heart sensations (or palpitations) that include irregular, thumping or pounding heartbeats
  • A feeling that the heart is racing
  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Fainting or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue, shortness of breath or weakness

How to Stop AFib

While some episodes resolve on their own, other atrial fibrillation attacks may require intervention to restore a normal heart rhythm. Several techniques can be used to stop an AFib attack, including:

  • Vagal maneuvers – Simply pinch your nostrils and keep your mouth closed while attempting to breathe for 10 to 15 seconds. This increases the pressure inside your ear and chest, which reduces some heart arrhythmias. 
  • Eat a banana (or anything rich in potassium)
  • Dunk your head in cold water
  • Take a deep belly breath
  • Consider a magnesium supplement

How to Prevent AFib

One of the best ways to prevent AFib is to make several lifestyle modifications. These can include:  

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol – Excessive alcohol and caffeine intake can trigger AFib episodes in some people.

Eat a Heart Healthy Diet – Opt for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Avoid or limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugar. 

Move Your Body – Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

Manage Stress – Chronic stress can contribute to AFib. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga or deep breathing to manage stress. 

Stay Hydrated – Experts recommend men drink about 15.5 cups of water per day and women drink about 11.5 cups. 

Get Enough Quality Sleep – Aim for 7-8 hours each night.

Maintain a Healthy Weight – Excess weight is a major risk factor for AFib. Aim to reach and maintain a healthy weight for your height and build.

Control Underlying Medical Conditions – If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or other medical conditions that increase your risk of AFib, it’s crucial to manage them properly.

See Your Doctor Regularly – Schedule regular checkups with your doctor to monitor your heart health and address any potential issues early. 

AFib Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are several effective AFib treatment options available. Here are some of the most common:

  • Medication – Your doctor may prescribe medications like blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots and control heart rate and rhythm. 
  • Cardioversion – This procedure uses electrical shocks to restore a normal heart rhythm.
  • Ablation Therapy – Catheter ablation is a procedure that uses heat or cold energy to destroy the small areas of the heart tissue responsible for triggering AFib episodes.
  • Surgery – In some extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the tissue responsible for triggering AFib episodes.

How to Stop AFib With AMS Cardiology 

By adopting a healthy lifestyle, managing stress and following prescribed treatments individuals with AFib can take proactive steps to reduce the frequency and severity of atrial fibrillation episodes. Work closely with your cardiologist to develop a personalized plan that addresses your needs and ensures the best possible outcomes in managing AFib. Contact us today at 215-517-1000 to schedule an appointment.

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