Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a heart condition that can have a huge impact on your life. However, living with AFib shouldn't mean living an unhealthy life. When you have AFib, it is important to make healthy lifestyle changes. Healthy living is good for your heart, and it can help reduce some of the risks associated with AFib.
There are many heart-healthy lifestyle changes you can try. Start with some of the tips offered here.
Eat healthy. Eating a diet that's healthy for your heart can help reduce the risk of complications of AFib and the risk of other heart diseases. You should avoid foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Take a look at Canada's Food Guide for tips on how to eat healthy. Try:
- Adding more whole grains each day by making half of your grain products whole grain (e.g., barley, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa).
- Eat at least one dark green vegetable (e.g., broccoli, spinach, asparagus) and one orange vegetable (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes) every day.
- Choose unsaturated vegetable oils such as soybean, olive, and canola instead of hard margarine, butter, lard, and shortening. You don't need more than 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 mL) each day.
- Eat lean meats and trim the visible fat from meat.
Reduce stress. Stress can trigger AFib in some people. Stress increases the risk for heart disease. Reducing stress can improve your health. Here are some tips to help you cope with stress:
- Figure out what is causing your stress. Then, take steps to deal with the cause.
- Exercise is a great way to cope with stress. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you start any physical activity.
- Take a break. Whether it's 10 minutes during the day just for yourself or a week-long vacation, you need to get away once in a while.
Keep your medical conditions under control. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, it's important to keep these conditions under control by following the treatment plan your doctor recommends. Managing these conditions means reaching the target levels of these conditions as set out by your doctor. Ask your doctor what your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels should be. Are you at those levels? If not, ask your doctor what you can do to ensure you are reaching your targets to keep these conditions under control.