Caregiving for someone with atrial fibrillation

Know what to expect with this common heart rhythm condition and get tips to prevent caregiver burnout.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're a caregiver for a family member or friend with atrial fibrillation (Afib), a common heart rhythm disorder, you have an important role in helping your loved one manage the condition.

AFib can increase the risk of blood clots, which can lead to stroke. Your loved one may need to take blood-thinning medicines to reduce the risk.

It's important to take these medicines exactly as prescribed. You may need to check the medicines and give reminders to take the right doses.

People who take the blood thinner warfarin (Jantovin) need regular blood tests to monitor its effects. You also may need to take your loved one for other lab tests or medical appointments.

Someone taking warfarin needs to make diet changes. Certain foods and beverages rich in vitamin K can cause warfarin to not work as well to prevent blood clots. Make sure your loved one avoids large amounts of foods high in vitamin K, including:

  • Asparagus.
  • Broccoli.
  • Brussels sprouts.
  • Chard.
  • Collards.
  • Green tea.
  • Kale.
  • Mustard greens.
  • Spinach.

Also, cranberry juice and alcohol can increase warfarin's effects, making bleeding more likely.

Your loved one's condition might require close watching. You should look for signs of stroke, heart failure or bleeding from blood thinners. Ask your loved one's health care provider what warning signs to watch for.

Your support might help your loved one live a healthier life. But being a caregiver for someone with atrial fibrillation, or any health condition, takes time and energy. Caregiving can disrupt your schedule and cause you stress.

Follow these seven tips to prevent caregiver burnout.

  • Take care of yourself. Eat a heart-healthy diet and stay active to keep yourself healthy.
  • Set aside time for yourself. Do something fun, such as watching a comedy movie, going to a park, reading a book, gardening or doing other hobbies you enjoy.
  • Notice signs of depression or stress. If you feel depressed or stressed, get professional help right away.
  • Ask for and accept help. Ask family members and friends for help if you need it, and name ways others can help you. If help is offered, accept it.
  • Learn about atrial fibrillation. Understanding the condition can help you give your loved one better care.
  • Consider technology. Use technology, such as text messaging, smartphone applications or calendar alerts, for medicine reminders.
  • Join a support group. Being in a support group with people with atrial fibrillation or other heart conditions and their caregivers allows you to share what you're going through with others who understand your situation.

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June 24, 2023 See more In-depth