Atrial Fibrillation can lead to something far more dangerous like a stroke or heart attack. By definition, it is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. There are many causes of ‘afib.’ One is advanced age. Another is advanced age. Because it can be tied to advanced age, experts believe they’ll see an increase in the number of people who will suffer from this condition in the coming years. They believe almost twelve million baby boomers may develop it.

Despite those numbers, there are ways to reduce your risk of atrial fibrillation by eliminating common causes that you have control over. If you’ve already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, it’s still not too late to reduce some of the symptoms.

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS TO BE MINDFUL OF:

MONITOR YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE.
Know what your levels are. High blood pressure is the most common risk factor for atrial fibrillation. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, make sure that it is controlled to reduce your chances of developing afib. Blood pressure above 140/90 is considered to be high. Prehypertension falls into the range between 120/80 and 139/89. This condition puts you at higher risk for atrial fibrillation.

DO YOUR BEST TO AVOID SUBSTANCES THAT STIMULATE IRREGULAR HEARTBEATS.
You’ll need to avoid or limit your caffeine intake, tea, energy drinks and coffee. Avoid or limit alcohol. Stop smoking. Some over the counter cough and cold medications can act as stimulants. Be sure to consult with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure the medications you’re taking are safe for you.

WATCH YOUR WEIGHT AND WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
Maintaining a healthy diet and watching your weight can help you to control blood pressure and keep your cholesterol levels at a healthy level. If either is elevated, you increase the risk factors for atrial fibrillation. Avoid trans fats and saturated fats. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Avoid fast-foods and processed foods. Get regular exercise. Monitor your stress levels. If you know they’re high, take steps to reduce your levels.

CHECK YOUR HEART RATE REGULARLY TO MAKE SURE WITHIN A HEALTHY RANGE.
You don’t need to visit a doctor to check your pulse. You can check the pulse on your wrist. Hold your hand with the palm facing up. Place two fingers from the other hand below the base of your thumb and count the beats (pulse) for a full minute or fifteen seconds and multiply the number of beats by four. While resting, your heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute. If you notice that you’re out of range or you notice any space between beats, let your doctor know. If you experience palpitations, consult your physician.

“Other conditions of the heart can cause atrial fibrillation. For instance, diabetes, heart infections, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart defects, heart valve issues can all play a role in causing atrial fibrillation. Work closely with your doctor to monitor for signs and symptoms of a problem and to learn more about your risk factors.”

A diagnosis of atrial fibrillation doesn’t have to be in your future. Do what you can now to prevent it from happening to you. Small changes in your diet, in how often you exercise, and how you deal with stress can make all the difference in the world. Take the necessary steps and follow your doctor’s advice to ensure you’ll never suffer from this issue.

By Alan Freeman