Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

You may need to make lifestyle changes that improve the overall health of your heart, especially to prevent or treat conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Your doctor may suggest several lifestyle changes, including:

  • Eat heart-healthy foods. Eat a healthy diet that's low in salt and solid fats and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise daily and increase your physical activity.
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke and can't quit on your own, talk to your doctor about strategies or programs to help you break a smoking habit.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing heart disease.
  • Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. Make lifestyle changes and take medications as prescribed to correct high blood pressure (hypertension) or high cholesterol.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
  • Maintain follow-up care. Take your medications as prescribed and have regular follow-up appointments with your doctor. Tell your doctor if your symptoms worsen.

Prevention

To prevent atrial fibrillation, it's important to live a heart-healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of heart disease. A healthy lifestyle may include:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Increasing your physical activity
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Reducing stress, as intense stress and anger can cause heart rhythm problems
  • Using over-the-counter medications with caution, as some cold and cough medications contain stimulants that may trigger a rapid heartbeat
Dec. 05, 2015
References
  1. Atrial fibrillation. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/af/. Accessed Oct. 12, 2015.
  2. Ferri FF. Atrial fibrillation. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 12, 2015.
  3. Prystowsky EN, et al. Treatment of atrial fibrillation. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2015;314:278.
  4. Atrial fibrillation. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_atrial_fibrillation.htm. Accessed Oct. 12, 2015.
  5. Bonow RO, et al. Atrial fibrillation: Clinical features, mechanisms, and management. In: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 12, 2015.
  6. January CT, et al. 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS guideline for the management of patients with atrial fibrillation: Executive summary. A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014;64:2246.
  7. Atrial fibrillation (Afib or AF). American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/AboutArrhythmia/Atrial-Fibrillation-AF-or-AFib_UCM_302027_Article.jsp#.ViKdE_lViko. Accessed Oct. 12, 2015.
  8. High blood pressure, Afib, and your risk of stroke. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/High-Blood-Pressure-Afib-and-Your-Risk-of-Stroke_UCM_443852_Article.jsp. Accessed Oct. 14, 2015.
  9. Ganz LI. Control of ventricular rate in atrial fibrillation: Pharmacologic therapy. https://uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 14, 2015.
  10. Kumar K. Antiarrhythmic drugs to maintain sinus rhythm in patients with atrial fibrillation: Recommendations. https://uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 14, 2015.
  11. January CT, et al. 2014 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS guideline for the management of patients with atrial fibrillation. A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014;64:e1.
  12. Living with an arrhythmia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/livingwith#. Accessed Oct. 14, 2015.
  13. Riggin EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 5, 2015.