Between caring for thousands of patients at my practice and supporting my online audience, I have noticed that there are several questions that seem to get asked more frequently than others. It’s for this reason that I wanted to compile some of these commonly asked questions, especially for those recently diagnosed with AFib who may be feeling these same questions bubbling in their minds. As always, this information is educational in nature, please discuss with your own doctor before making any medical decisions regarding your health.
1. Is there a cure for AFib?
There is currently no cure for AFib. However, the right long-term care plan can help to maintain the quality of life of someone living with AFib and can significantly improve symptoms and reduce risk for stroke.
By accepting and working with your new health plateau or, your “new normal” health picture, you can condition yourself to improve your life quality. Those living with AFib long term might be looking for solutions to live with AFib or complaining about it.Complaining about it might trigger an AFib episode due to stress. Working with and accepting it might actually reduce your stress. Reduced stress can mean less AFib event triggering.
When you look in the mirror each day, you probably don’t think about your internal cells and organs as living machines. However, just for a moment, think about your body like it’s a car.
Similarly, to any machine with moving parts, eventually things wear out.In an automobile, you change the lifeblood of it, the oil, and you extend its life.However, even by changing the oil, eventually other parts in the car will wear out. That’s because no one can stop change. Such is the state of your physical body.
You can read more about this topic in my full article here.
2. Can I safely drink alcohol if I have AFib?
Though alcohol is not completely responsible for causing AFib, it can be a contributing factor.
Research about alcohol and AFib concludes that moderate drinking (1 – 3 drinks a day) increases your risk of causing AFib. Drinking more than this creates even greater risk of causing AFib. The latest research suggests that for every extra daily drink, you increase your risk of creating AFib by 8%.To get more information about this topic, read my full article here.
3. Can AFib be triggered by stress?
Excess stress can contribute to triggering an AFib episode. If you are already living with AFib, reducing stress leads to better coping with it. That being said, skim through my ideas here about reducing your stress and ultimately taming your AFib episodes since AFib can’t yet be cured.
4. What questions should I be asking my doctor?
Going to the doctor once you’ve received any kind of diagnosis can be scary, confusing and completely overwhelming. Many patients are afraid to voice their confusion or simply don’t know what to ask their doctor in the first place.
Get my full list of questions I recommend asking your healthcare team here.
5. Can AFib be triggered by certain foods?
Yes. This is especially true if you are sensitive to spices and preservatives, you might want to know what foods to avoid that can cause atrial fibrillation. Patients respond differently to foods and other triggers, so it is important to keep track of what may cause your episodes of atrial fibrillation. For this reason, it may be helpful to create your very own AFib diet plan. If you are interested in doing some detective work for yourself about what causes AFib triggers for you, get my list of foods I recommend avoiding here.
6. Is AFib related to heart disease?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common cardiovascular disease, while atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia.
CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and plaque on their inner walls. Over time, CAD can weaken the heart muscle and contribute to chest pain, heart failure, arrhythmias, and heart attacks.
Both diseases share associated risk factors - hypertension, diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, obesity, and smoking. Moreover, inflammation plays a causative role in both diseases. You can read more about how coronary artery disease relates to AFib here.
Another common condition those living with AFib often face is congestive heart failure, commonly known as CHF. CHF often refers to a weak heart but can also signify a stiff heart, meaning it doesn’t pump blood efficiently throughout the body.
You can read more about CHF and AFib here.
7. What does a complete care-plan look like for managing AFib?
Upon first meeting with a new patient, I frequently explain that we will have both short-term goals and long-term goals in the course of their care. Many patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation will need a strategy they can utilize for decades, but the management of atrial fibrillation requires a two-pronged strategy and it is necessary to address both immediate and future goals to achieve the best possible outcomes.
You can read more about these short and long term goals and steps here.
You can also get my FREE guide to Healthy Living for those with AFib here.