I've been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Should I make changes to my diet?
Answer From Rekha Mankad, M.D.
Making healthy diet changes can help you improve your heart health and live a healthy lifestyle if you have a heart condition such as atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder.
Aim to eat a heart-healthy diet, including:
- Whole grains
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- Proteins such as lean meats, nuts, seeds and beans
- Foods low in salt, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat
In addition, your doctor may recommend that you limit or avoid alcohol if you have atrial fibrillation, as alcohol can cause health issues in some people.
If you have diabetes, it's important to control your blood sugar levels.
You may need to avoid certain foods if you're taking certain medications to prevent blood clots. For example, if you're taking warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) — a blood-thinning medication — your doctor will recommend that you avoid eating large amounts of leafy green vegetables. These vegetables have vitamin K in them, which can interfere with the effects of your medication.
Discuss with your doctor any questions you may have about your diet.
Also, your doctor will likely recommend other healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control.
March 11, 2016
See more Expert Answers
- What is atrial fibrillation? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/af. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
- What is an arrhythmia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
- Ganz LI. Epidemiology of and risk factors for atrial fibrillation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
- Medication guide: Coumadin. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/drugsatfda/index.cfm?fuseaction=Search.DrugDetails. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.