By Dr. Sunny Vikrum Malhotra
Does your heart sometimes skip a beat or bounce around? Does it occasionally feel fast or fluttering? If so, these can be signs of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), which is a common heart rhythm disorder from Harlem to Hollywood. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 2.7 to 6.1 million people in the United States with AFib.
AFib is an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by rapid and irregular beating. The problem occurs when the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) generate chaotic and disorganized electrical signals that reduce the ability of the atria to pump blood into the heart’s two lower chambers (the ventricles). If the leftover blood of the atria “pools,” it increases the risk for clot formation. If a clot develops and travels to the brain, it can cause a stroke.
With proper treatment, many patients with AFib can reduce the likelihood of stroke. Most strokes can be prevented through a variety of treatments such as blood thinners and medications that can control your heart rate. Your medical doctor can discuss all the options that are available to you.
There are also things the average person can do to help prevent AFib. We can:
1. Reduce emotional and physical stressors
2. Lose weight
3. Control cardiovascular risk factors
4. Keep sugars under control
5. Get our blood pressure in a healthy range
6. Monitor cholesterol levels
7. Limit alcohol intake
8. Get quality sleep
9. Limit caffeine consumption
There are also certain foods that can help prevent AFib. Walnuts, walnut oil, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil, mustard oil, soybean oil and tofu all contain a specific omega-3 fatty acid that is known to have heart-healthy properties.
For more information about getting and staying healthier, get a customized Preventive Care Plan here, based on your age, gender and any of your known conditions. You can schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss your plan and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Dr. Sunny Vikrum Malhotra is a cardiologist for AdvantageCare Physicians, one of New York’s largest physician-led multi-specialty practices serving half a million patients in 36 locations throughout New York City and Long Island. Twitter: @drsunnymalhotra