Atrial Fibrillation and Cold Weather Triggers

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Atrial Fibrillation and Cold Weather Triggers

People with AFib sometimes unexpectedly experience episodes of irregular heartbeat when the barometric pressure or temperature changes. It’s no fun to have atrial fibrillation and cold weather irritating your heart’s rhythm.  So, let’s talk about how cold weather may affect you and what you can do to make things better for yourself.

The cold is nothing to dismiss when it comes to your heart health and general well-being. AFib patients (especially those over 75) have increased risk for atrial fibrillation episodes, hospitalization, and even death during the winter months.  Studies have also shown that AFib patients also have an increased risk for stroke during the winter months. Let’s minimize the chances of cold weather making things harder for you.

For Atrial Fibrillation and Cold Weather, Stay Warm!

For the cold winter months, if you are affected by AFib,I recommend that you stay indoorsin a warm environment. Why? Being outside can present a hypothermia risk to you. People experiencing hypothermia fail to produce enough energy to keep theirbody temperature sufficiently warm. When your internal body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you are experiencing hypothermia.

When someone experiences hypothermia, he or she can develop hypothermic symptoms including mental confusion. You act kind of like your internal body fluids are starting to freeze. Hypothermia behaviors can include a person experiencing unusually slow reaction responses. You shiver, experience sleepiness and can act uncoordinated.  In the most severe cases, hypothermia can turn into heart failure and death.

Of even more concern is that in the cold weather, people with AFib are at greater risk for having a stroke.  Here are some common symptoms of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness or especially one-sided loss of face, arm or leg movement
  • Sudden changes in your vision
  • Sudden speech challenges
  • Suddenly feeling and acting confused or feeling challenged understanding simple statements
  • Suddenly being unable to walk normally or having balance problems
  • Sudden, intense odd type of headache unlike any other headache you’ve had in the past

Tips for AFib Patients to Stay Warm

The following are some simple tips you can use to stay warm, especially in the cold winter weather. Keep this blog post as a reference if you’d like.

  • Spend more time indoors than outdoors during very cold weather.
  • Make sure your living area is well heated.
  • Wear layers of clothing rather than wearing single heavy clothes. You’ll stay warmer wearing clothes in layers.
  • Extremities are the first things to get frostbite. For this reason, keep your extremities warm. Wear a thick knit hat and gloves. Also, wear wool socks (unless you have allergies) and sturdy winter shoes.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, especially before going outside. It does not actually help you stay warm. Instead, alcohol in excess scars your heart tissue.
  • Eat real food. Remember, food is used to refuel your body. Eat nutrition-rich food to help keep you as fit as possible. Even if you already have AFib!
  • I know it’s different exercising when you have AFib. Make sure you consult your doctor before you include an exercise routine in your daily schedule.
  • Get plenty of sleep and rest. This helps keep your immune system strong.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydrating your body.

The cold weather can irritate your AFibcondition.  Have more questions about how to take care of your AFib in the cold? Join my Facebook page. Ask me any question about AFib on my AFib Friday’s feature.