Atrial fibrillation, or Afib, is a form of arrhythmia that gives rise to an exceedingly rapid and irregular heartbeat. The ramifications of this ailment can be quite serious, as it may result in a lack of coordination between the atria and ventricles. In turn, this can lead to blood pooling within the heart’s chambers, potentially triggering the formation of blood clots, strokes, or even heart failure. Afib is commonly seen in those with heart valve disorders, but other risk factors include sleep apnea, high blood pressure, obesity, having undergone the TAVR procedure, and more. While Afib can manifest intermittently for some, it can persist chronically for others.
The best way to protect yourself is to wear an ECG/EKG monitor to detect when your heart rate is getting too high. Additionally, there are treatments such as the pacemaker implant to help your heart beat properly. With the recommendation of a monitor or the pacemaker implant, your doctor may also recommend a change in diet. Here are a few foods that help to manage Afib:
1. Fruits and vegetables
A diet loaded with fruits and vegetables can help to decrease obesity and high blood pressure, both of which are risk factors of Afib. By decreasing the two, you decrease your chances of experiencing another Afib episode. Try topping your oatmeal with strawberries, enjoying a bowl of blueberries and raspberries, cutting up some veggies with hummus, or throwing a mix together into a smoothie.
2. Whole grains
Whole grains are very filling and have many benefits, including improving cholesterol levels and decreasing your risk of stroke, heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. In turn, this also decreases the risk of Afib. Foods like brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain bread, and quinoa are great whole grains to add to your diet.
3. Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
Low-fat milk, low-fat plain yogurt, small amounts of cheese, or dairy alternatives like almond or oat milk, are best for those with Afib. This type of food is linked to the Mediterranean diet, which has been found to lower the risk of heart problems.
Lean meats, nuts, and seeds are all great examples of the types of proteins you should be including in your diet. Proteins are filling and can keep you at a healthy weight, thus lowering your risk of an Afib episode.
5. Low salt foods
High sodium in foods can raise your blood pressure, making you more likely to go into Afib. Be sure to look at the labels on your food and opt for low sodium choices—common high salt foods include pizza, deli meat, canned soups, and dinner rolls.