Many people with recurrent atrial fibrillation (AF) are aware that large amounts of coffee, alcohol – and sometimes physical activity – can trigger episodes of atrial fibrillation. However, there are other factors that may be at play – and understanding these can help you avoid episodes that trigger atrial fibrillation.
When you travel, you can expose yourself to factors that can cause an episode of atrial fibrillation. You may be “tired” or exhausted. The general strain of travelling, combined with a disruption of your usual sleeping pattern, can put your body under great stress. This causes an increased level of stress hormones.
Excessive stress can affect your heart through the body’s production of adrenaline. By becoming more aware of which situations increase your stress level and trying to avoid these – or be prepared for them – you can reduce your risk of getting atrial fibrillation. Mindfulness exercises and meditation can help reduce stress.
To help minimize your stress while travelling make sure that you:
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Make sure you’re well hydrated (and I don’t mean drink more beer).
- Don’t skip any meals.
- Prepare yourself mentally for any travel disruptions such as sudden flight changes.
- Prepare in advance and don’t cause yourself any unnecessary stress.
We all know that holiday’s aren’t always fun and games, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that “Holiday Heart” is well known as a trigger for atrial fibrillation. This is because for many of us holidays bring a number of possibly detrimental factors into play. These include stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, and an increased alcohol intake.
Unfortunately for those of us looking to drink a beer or two to make annoying relatives more palatable, alcohol can be particularly problematic. Consuming large amounts risks provoking a seizure but for some even smaller amounts of alcohol may provoke mild AF symptoms.
In order to reduce your risk of atrial fibrilation during the holidays you should ensure that:
- You get enough sleep.
- Drink in moderation, or not at all if you are at a high risk of AF symptoms.
- Try not to alter your diet too much.
- Do your best to relax!
It might not be a surprise, but drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy are not solely the preserve of the young. Drug abuse is on the rise, even among older demographics, and the number of older Americans seeking treatment for multiple substance abuse rose from 14% to 40% between 1992 and 2008.
The use of any drugs, even relatively innocuous substances like cannabis, can significantly alter your heart rate. This can easily cause the onset of an episode of atrial fibrillation, which is just one of many reasons to avoid these kinds of drugs.
In order to reduce your risk from drug use you should:
- Not take drugs.
- If you insist on taking drugs, do it in moderation.
Taking Sensible Precautions Will Go a Long Way
There are many factors that can contribute to an episode of atrial fibrillation. Even positive events, such as holidays or birthdays, can be a source of significant stress or other problems. A good rule of thumb if you have a predisposition for atrial fibrillation is to do everything in moderation.