The combination of gentle exercise, breathing, and meditation does more than improve your happiness. An hour a day, three times a week, can be enough to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and the number of AFib episodes after 3 months. Yoga may even lessen inflammation that could lead to AFib.
It's been practiced in other parts of the world for centuries, and it comes with almost no risk. Limited research suggests that targeting a point in the inner wrist could help your AFib. Acupuncture is safe when you go to a trained, certified expert. And some styles use pressure instead of needles.
This herb extract is used widely in China to treat occasional, or paroxysmal, AFib. Studies show promising results. Chinese researchers reported few side effects, and those were mostly minor. But we need more research to make sure it's safe. Talk to your doctor before you take this or any supplement.
Salmon, mackerel, and some tunas have both vitamin D and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Too little vitamin D has been linked to heart problems, and one study found a connection between low levels and AFib that's not related to heart valves. A heart-friendly diet like the Mediterranean diet -- with foods low in cholesterol and saturated and trans fats like fish, chicken, and other lean proteins -- can lessen your chance of AFib complications such as stroke.
These are simple actions that can quickly slow a very fast heart rate of more than 100 beats a minute. Your doctor calls this type of heartbeat supraventricular tachycardia. Vagal maneuvers work by engaging your body’s automatic reflexes. Types you can try for AFib include:
- Close your nose and mouth and try to blow out to create pressure in your chest. This “Valsalva” technique can be very effective.
- Coughing hard
- Gagging with a finger or a tongue depressor
People with both AFib and heart failure who took this supplement in a study had one-quarter fewer episodes after 12 months. But CoQ10 can make the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) less effective. Medications called statins, which lower cholesterol, can also lower levels of CoQ10. So you should check with your doctor before you start taking it.
Researchers in Sweden found that some people who have gluten intolerance have a higher risk for getting AFib. But the reverse isn't necessarily true: When you have AFib, you aren't more likely to have problems with gluten. Go ahead and enjoy whole-grain bread and pasta (in the right portion sizes, of course!). Fiber is good for your heart.
Being overweight can affect AFib in a few ways. Work on shedding extra pounds with exercise and a good diet. Don't turn to over-the-counter weight loss drugs. The herb ma huang, an ingredient in some of them, has ephedrine, which can cause an irregular heartbeat.
Make Time for Fun
Schedule enjoyable activities and then stick to that plan, even if you're not sure you want to. A healthy lifestyle -- eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep -- will also help lift your mood and keep your stress in check. You'll be less likely to trigger your AFib.
Now that it's legal in more places, it might seem like an option to help you chill out. But take a deep breath first. Although it hasn't been studied much, research in Israel suggests the active ingredient in pot can cause atrial fibrillation if you've already got problems with your heart rhythm.
This training helps you learn how your body responds to stress. Electrodes attached to your skin let you know what's happening as you're doing a relaxation technique, like meditation or hypnosis. It's not yet used widely for AFib, but a small study showed people were able to control their irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmias.
Talk to your family about your concerns. Learn more about your condition through web sites, self-help groups, and visits with your doctor. A good support system and a sense of control over your illness will help you hold off worry and depression.