Atrial fibrillation: how to protect your heart

Atrial fibrillation: how to protect your heart

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Heart experts explain how to prevent atrial fibrillation

If the heart suddenly starts racing so that you can feel the beating down to your throat, if the pressure on your chest is so great that you can hardly breathe, if sudden dizziness occurs and anxiety spreads, it can be about you Act atrial fibrillation. Such fibrillation attacks are dangerous and often leave those affected highly unsettled. What can you do to protect yourself from these seizures or to drastically reduce the frequency? Heart experts explain.

The German Heart Foundation recently published the free guide "Heart out of rhythm: atrial fibrillation". In the guide, heart experts report on the dangers of cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, which therapies are best suited and what everyone can do for prevention themselves. Here are a few important aspects!

Recognize seizures

As the experts of the German Heart Foundation report, the first attack of atrial fibrillation often occurs during light activities such as climbing stairs. This can lead to a violent and irregular heartbeat, in which the pulse rises to up to 160 beats per minute. The heartbeats pound so intensely that they are felt in the throat. This is often accompanied by a feeling of pressure in the chest, which is accompanied by shortness of breath. In addition, there is often a feeling of weakness. However, not every cardiac fibrillation is so clearly recognizable, the experts warn. In many cases, the arrhythmia remains undetected.

How can you protect yourself from atrial fibrillation?

"For patients with atrial fibrillation, exercise and weight loss are crucial to dramatically reduce their risk of recurring atrial fibrillation attacks," reports cardiac specialist Professor Dr. med. Bernd Nowak from the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation in a press release. Exercise and endurance exercise are just as crucial for patients with atrial fibrillation to improve their heart condition as they are for patients with other heart diseases such as heart failure, coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.

Do not exaggerate

"However, the training dose should always be determined with the doctor," advises Professor Nowak. If atrial fibrillation patients are already taking performance-reducing drugs such as beta blockers or rhythm medication, the resilience must first be determined by a medical test.

These sports are suitable for heart protection

Nowak recommends patients with atrial fibrillation to have a low to moderate dose of endurance training, for example, three to five times a week for 20 to 30 minutes brisk walking, jogging, walking, cycling, ergometer training or dancing. In addition, according to Nowak, low-dose strength training should be part of the training. "Older people, who are particularly often affected by atrial fibrillation, risk fewer falls with weight training and cope better in everyday life," says the heart specialist.

Exercise and weight loss work better than medicine

If you increase your resilience by more than 50 watts, you reduce the risk of a new attack by more than a third. This increase would roughly correspond to the load that occurs when walking faster than normal walking. If you also lose ten percent of your body weight, you can increase your resilience by more than 50 percent. In this way, the risk of renewed atrial fibrillation attacks can be reduced by three quarters. "The effect is so great that it can hardly be achieved with medication," emphasizes the cardiologist Nowak.

It is better to refrain from these sports

If atrial fibrillation occurs during exercise, symptoms such as shortness of breath or weakness may suddenly appear. For this reason, Professor Nowak advises against swimming in the sea and other waters as well as climbing or demanding mountain hiking. Caution should also be exercised when it comes to injury-intensive sports such as mountain biking, snowboarding, alpine skiing or martial arts, especially if patients take anticoagulants such as Marcumar, Falithrom, Eliquis, Lixiana, Pradaxa or Xarelto.

Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke

"Stroke is the greatest risk from atrial fibrillation," adds cardiologist Dr. Gerian Grönefeld in a press release. Atrial fibrillation is the trigger in 20 to 30 percent of all strokes. Here, the best protection is to recognize the underlying diseases and treat them consistently, because unrecognized, untreated and without the protective effect of anticoagulant drugs, those with atrial fibrillation are unprotected from stroke.

Risk factors for atrial fibrillation

Heart failure, renal insufficiency, sleep apnea (breathing interruptions when sleeping) and high blood pressure can promote atrial fibrillation. According to Grönefeld, about a third of all patients with high blood pressure also experience atrial fibrillation. "Patients with high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation are exposed to two factors: On the one hand, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke due to the vascular load, and on the other hand, atrial fibrillation creates the risk of blood clots forming, which in turn can trigger a stroke," explains Grönfeld.

Control underlying diseases to prevent atrial fibrillation

High-pressure patients should therefore take special care to keep their illness under control by being well-adjusted to medication, regularly checking their pulse with blood pressure monitors and getting regular medical check-ups. According to Grönefeld, other risk patients for atrial fibrillation are people who suffer from heart valve disease, diabetes or coronary heart disease. These should also pay attention to the occurrence of an irregular pulse. (vb)

Author and source information

Video: Atrial Fibrillation - How to Protect Yourself Against a Stroke (January 2023).