The Hidden Heart Problem Affecting Men
June 1, 2021
Atrial fibrillation also known as “AFib”is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase your risk for stroke, heart failure and other heart related problems according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s killing nearly 40 percent more Americans than it has in the past two decades, and especially affecting black men.
During atrial fibrillation the heart’s upper and lower chambers do not beat regularly and fail to cooperate with one another. When someone suffers from an episode of AFib, those circuits become faulty, says cardiologist Aseem Desai, M.D., author of Restart Your Heart: The Playbook for Thriving with AFib. “The chambers on the top quiver, beating rapidly and out of sync with the bottom two chambers.” This can lead to symptoms of fatigue, palpitations, dizziness, weakness and even shortness of breath. Episodes can weaken the heart and overtime that can become dangerous. What’s scary is researchers aren’t sure what is causing the recent spike in deaths due to AFib. AFib is also not detected under an EKG unless the person is actively in an episode of AFib. What science is sure of is how to recognize signs of AFib and how to manage it.
How to Lower your Risk for AFib Complications
Thanks to modern technology, heart monitors can provide insight as to how your heart is operating. If you see an abnormal pulse rate at any point in time, call your doctor for an exam.
Monitor for sleep apnea
This risk factor may be more unrecognized but can increase the risk for complications in young, obese men. Sleep apnea causes the body to stop breathing at times during the night. The drop in oxygen can trigger an AFib response. Using a sleep apnea device at night can help correct the apnea as well as the AFib.
Eat a heart healthy diet
Focus on a whole foods diet with lots of fiber. Choosing plant based foods will be optimal for taking care of the heart and circulation system. Avoid consumption of fast food, convenience foods, sugar and too much alcohol.
We all know that smoking is not good for any system in the body and it can complicate things if you suffer from AFib. Try to quit smoking for good.
Consult with your doctor to create an appropriate exercise routine for your needs. Exercising with AFib can be dangerous if you do not know your own limitations. There is risk in not exercising enough and on the other side of the spectrum, exercising too vigorously can be risky. At Pisgah Valley Retirement Community the health of our residents is a top priority and that is why the Wellness Center offers assessments. Feel free to reach out to Pisgah Valley Wellness Center if you have questions or need information about taking care of your heart.
A normal is 60 to 100 beats per minute and during an episode of atrial fibrillation the rate can increase to 100 to 175 beats per minute. This irregular beat can cause damage to the heart but with proper treatment people are able to manage it daily. Consider investing in a device or a gym membership to a supportive facility like Pisgah Valley Wellness Center if you feel that your AFib episodes are becoming more frequent. Managing stress levels, not smoking, moderating alcohol consumption, exercising and eating a varietal whole foods diet will help keep your heart in good shape and likely decrease complications that can be caused by atrial fibrillation.