HOW to manage irregular heartbeat focuses on atrial fibrillation (AFib) which is the most common type of irregular heartbeat where the heart beats irregularly and faster than normal. This article, How to manage irregular heartbeat, identifies causes, and symptoms of irregular heartbeat, activities to calm you down, and what food to avoid.
Causes And Symptoms Of Irregular Heartbeat
Anxiety: While the results of studies are mixed about a direct link between anxiety and AFib, there does seem to be a connection between the two. This is because one common symptom of anxiety is a racing heart. Likewise, a study on older adults showed that both depression and anxiety were more common in those with AFib. For those who had both, their AFib symptoms were worse compared to people with AFib who only had one or neither of these other conditions.
High Blood Pressure: Studies show that it’s common to have anxiety and high blood pressure at the same time. And high blood pressure over time can increase your chances of an AFib episode.
Stress: Very often, stress and anxiety feel similar, but stress typically comes from an external trigger, whereas anxiety doesn’t have to. So by lowering your stress, you can help both AFib and anxiety.
Activities to Calm Irregular Heartbeats
Yoga: Research says yoga is an effective way to lower stress and anxiety. Although it’s not a treatment for AFib, yoga’s gentle stretches focus on breathing and help you avoid AFib triggers.
Meditation: Meditation and its physical sensation of being in the moment not only help reduce the impact of stress on your body but also keep AFib symptoms at bay.
Exercise: It’s healthy to exercise when you have AFib because regular moderate-to-intense exercise reduces the number of AFib episodes compared to those who don’t exercise. Aerobics also reduces your anxiety too. Therefore if you don’t exercise, check with your doctor before you start.
Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a great way to manage symptoms of anxiety. Talk to a professional who will teach you strategies to help you navigate and even prevent AFib symptoms.
Foods To Avoid When You Have Irregular Heartbeat
How to manage irregular heartbeat includes keeping a close eye on what you eat. For instance, too much salt raises your blood pressure. And high blood pressure may make you more likely to go into AFib. It may also make symptoms harder to manage, so your odds of having a stroke go up.
One serving of deli turkey slices could have more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. That’s about half of what’s fine for an entire day. Other super-salty foods include pizza, canned soups, breads, and rolls. Check food labels to find lower-sodium options.
Some Instant Oatmeal
Read the sugar content before you buy this quick and easy breakfast food. One popular fruit-flavored brand has about 11 grams of sugar in one packet – almost 3 teaspoons of added sugar. Extra sugar in your diet can lead to obesity and high blood pressure, which can set off bouts of irregular heartbeat.
Too much caffeine could raise your blood pressure and heart rate, which might set off episodes of AFib. Stick to no more than two or three cups a day. Or switch to decaf. Or do both.
Talk to your doctor to find out if leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and lettuce, change how well your medication, like blood thinner, works. If so, your doctor may be able to adjust your dose or change your medication so you can enjoy these healthy foods.
If you take medicine to control your heart rhythm, avoid grapefruits and grapefruit juice. Because they have chemicals that can change the way you digest certain medications. So confirm with your doctor about whether grapefruit is fine for you.
The saturated fats in beef, lamb, and pork raise bad cholesterol in your blood. And these can lead to heart disease and AFib, also raising your risk for stroke. So if you want meat, choose lean cuts of beef. For burgers or meatloaf, choose at least 90% lean ground beef. Or replace half the meat with beans for a twist that trims fat.
Butter is a source of saturated fat and bad cholesterol. Instead use heart-healthy oils like olive and canola for cooking. Similarly choose skim milk and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Doughnuts, potato chips, and French fries have the worst type of fat: trans-fat. Trans-fat raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol. Baked goods such as cookies, cakes, and muffins also have them. Also, look out for “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients.
Many brands have high doses of caffeine to give you a boost. In one small study, energy drinks caused more changes to the heart’s rhythm than other drinks with just as much caffeine. Another study linked energy drinks to episodes of AFib. Check with your doctor before drinking these pick-me-ups.
These little grains are stripped of the nutrients and fiber your heart needs to stay healthy. Fiber can help improve cholesterol levels. It may also lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes conditions linked to AFib. Choose whole-grain brown or wild rice that is more filling and may help lower your chance of stroke.
Overeating even healthy foods can pack on the pounds. You have a higher chance of getting AFib when you’re overweight. If you’re obese, aim to lose at least 10% of your body weight. Start with halving your normal meal portion.
When To See Your Doctor
Although irregular heartbeat episodes often resolve on their own without intervention, how to manage irregular heartbeat may require a doctor’s visit. This is particularly necessary if your heart palpitations last a long time. Or if you have chest pain, breathing issues, dizziness, or confusion along with them.