Q. Can I exercise while I am in AFib? Is there a specific heartrate at which I should stop exercising?
A. During AFib the erratic fluttering of the atria can lead to a dangerously high heart rate or sudden drops in blood pressure, which can cause you to pass out and/or experience heart failure. If you have other heart problems besides AFib, exercising can worsen those symptoms. In general, if you’ve been diagnosed with AFib you should be careful to limit your exercise to moderate or mild intensity and always choose activities in accordance with your doctor’s recommendations.1 Once your AFib is under control through proper medical management and supervision and you are not experiencing symptoms you can discuss returning to unrestricted activity levels with your doctor.
It’s also worth noting that, if you do not currently have AFib and wish to increase your chances of preventing it, regular exercise is a very good method. A large observational study followed 40,000 women over the age of 50 for 12 years and found that those who exercised more than 4 hours per week had 15% lower risk of developing AFib.2 As a word of caution, too much exercise can work against you and raise your risk for AFib. This has been observed in endurance athletes who regularly engage in lengthy sessions of intense exercise.3
Q. Are there supplements I can take to help with AFib?
A. There are some supplements that may be helpful for reducing symptoms of AFib in some patients. Your doctor can advise you on which supplements might be appropriate for you and the right dose to take for your individual needs.
- Preliminary studies have found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil and flax seeds, walnuts and certain other food sources may help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease.4
- Potassium may be helpful as a supplement, particularly if your levels are low or you are not absorbing sufficient amounts from your diet. Essential for maintaining fluid balance, blood pressure and nerve and muscle function, insufficient potassium can cause heart arrhythmia.3
- In a study that sought to reduce risk of atrial fibrillation following heart surgery, researchers found that patients who were given antioxidant supplements prior to surgery experienced significantly lower rates of AFib. The supplements used in the study included vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.5
Q. If I don’t want to take heart rate or heart rhythm drugs because of their toxic effects what are my other options?
There are non-drug options for treating AFib, including catheter ablation.
Q. Is there a way to stop AFib when it occurs?
A. There is no self-administered intervention or method for correcting atrial fibrillation while it is occurring. If you have intermittent bouts of AFib, the symptoms will stop on their own after several minutes or hours. If your AFib is categorized as persistent your heart rhythm will not restore itself to normal on its own and will require medication, catheter ablation or surgery.6
1Cedars-Sinai, Frequently Asked Questions about AFib. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/content/cedars-sinai.html 2Harvard Medical School, Exercise linked to lower afib risk for older women. 2015. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercise-linked-to-lower-atrial-fibrillation-risk-for-older-women 3Harvard Medical School, Avoiding atrial fibrillation, 2017. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/avoiding-atrial-fibrillation 4Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute, Essential Fatty Acids. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/essential-fatty-acids#long-chain-omega-3-cardiovascular-disease-prevention 5Hassan-AS Mirhosseini SJ et al. Antioxidant supplementation for prevention of afib. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24556447 6Mayo Clinic, Atrial Fibrillation – Symptoms and causes, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atrial-fibrillation/symptoms-causes/syc-20350624
Caution: US law restricts this device to sale by or on the order of a physician. Important information: Prior to use, refer to the instructions for use supplied with this device for indications, contraindications, side effects, warnings and precautions.
The NAVISTAR® THERMOCOOL®, EZ STEER® THERMOCOOL® NAV, THERMOCOOL® SF NAV, and THERMOCOOL SMARTTOUCH® Catheters are FDA approved for the treatment of drug refractory recurrent symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, when used with compatible three-dimensional electroanatomic mapping systems. Catheter ablation for AF may not be an option for you if you have any of the following conditions: certain recent heart surgery; prosthetic valves; active systemic infection; certain cancers; intracardiac thrombus, or an interatrial baffle or patch. Consult your physician to find out if catheter ablation is right for you.
As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. Only a cardiologist or electrophysiologist can determine whether ablation is an appropriate course of treatment. There are potential risks including bleeding, swelling or bruising at the catheter insertion site, and infection. More serious complications are rare, which can include damage to the heart or blood vessels; blood clots (which may lead to stroke); heart attack, or death. These risks need to be discussed with your doctor and recovery takes time.
THERMOCOOL® Navigation Catheters are indicated for the treatment of recurrent drug/device refractory sustained monomorphic ventricular tachycardia (VT) due to prior myocardial infarction (MI) in adults.