How can I prevent atrial fibrillation?

For some people, atrial fibrillation (AFib) is not preventable. However, adopting a balanced, healthy lifestyle will often reduce the risk of developing a heart condition such as AFib.

There are recommended steps for achieving a healthy lifestyle and lowering your risk for heart disease and atrial fibrillation, especially if you know you are at risk of developing AF, based on your family history.

  • Follow a heart-healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. A healthy diet includes a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables consumed on a daily basis.
  • Quit smoking (if you currently smoke).
  • Be physically active.
  • Avoid heart stimulants. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications and caffeine products can often trigger AFib episodes or increase their frequency.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, which may mean losing some weight.
  • Make sure that hypertension or other conditions that can lead to heart disease are treated and well managed.

The biggest danger with AFib is to leave it untreated. If you are unsure if you have AFib, contact your doctor to schedule an exam. If you do find out you have AFib, treating it correctly is the best way to reduce your stroke risk and maintain your quality of life.

You may be able to prevent atrial fibrillation (AF) by following a healthy lifestyle and taking steps to lower your risk of heart disease. These steps include:

  • Following a heart-healthy diet that's low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol (a healthy diet includes a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables daily)
  • Not smoking
  • Getting physical activity regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

If you have heart disease or other AF risk factors, work with your doctor to control your condition and lower your risk of complications, such as AF. In addition to following the healthy lifestyle steps above, which also can help control heart disease; your doctor may advise you to take one or more of the following steps:

  • Follow the DASH eating plan to help lower your blood pressure.
  • Keep your cholesterol and triglycerides at healthy levels with dietary changes and/or medicines.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol.
  • Control your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels if you have diabetes.
  • Get ongoing medical care and take your medicines as prescribed.

This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

Dr. Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Practitioner

To help prevent the rapid, irregular heartbeat of atrial fibrillation, you can try to avoid, reduce or manage some risk factors that contribute to it, such as obesity, high blood pressure or high blood sugar. For instance, try to slim down if you are overweight or obese. Monitor your blood pressure. If it's high, take the medication that your doctor prescribes to lower it; check your blood pressure regularly to make sure the drug is working as it should. If you have type 2 diabetes, make sure your blood glucose levels are controlled. If you have heart disease, work with your doctor to manage this problem, which can also lead to atrial fibrillation. And avoid alcohol and cigarettes, which may increase your chances of having abnormal heart rhythms as well.

Dr. Jose Nazari, MD
Cardiac Electrophysiologist

The best way to prevent atrial fibrillation is to stop smoking. Further, one should see a doctor regularly and take all medications as prescribed. One should also try to control high blood pressure with a good diet and healthy activity every day. These preventive measures may not always prevent atrial fibrillation but are a good start to keeping one's heart healthy.

The best way to prevent atrial fibrillation is to prevent hypertension and treat it promptly if it occurs. Stay healthy, exercise regularly and eat healthily.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.