Certainly, with A-fib, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure!  I have listed below 3 tips to prevent or even reverse atrial fibrillation.  In giving these tips, I am assuming that you are not smoking, as smoking is the number one cause of preventable heart problems.

  1. Get Moving! 
    According to the American Heart Association, only 1/3 of adults get “enough” physical activity which is defined as 150 minutes each week of at least moderate activity—that is just a mere 21 minutes each day[5].  We also have to move throughout the day.A recently published study showed that sitting more than 3 hours a day shortens our life by 2 years.  Being physically active will significantly lower our blood pressure and is a critical component of weight loss both of which are critical to preventing or reversing A-fib!Thus, for my patients I now recommend taking 10,000 steps a day and exercising for 30 minutes each day in addition to the 10,000 steps.  Even cardiologists need to get moving more as the average cardiologist only takes about 6,000 steps a day[6].  Just taking 10,000 steps per day, as measured by a pedometer, has been shown to result in about a 5-pound weight loss, without dieting, and a 4-point reduction in your blood pressure[7].At least a moderate level of exercise on most days has been shown to result it a 6-pound weight loss[8], once again without dieting, and a 6-point drop in blood pressure[9].
  2. Avoid Processed Foods!
    You could not pick a better recipe for high blood pressure and obesity than processed foods.  I would define processed foods as any food item that is already prepared whether it comes in a box, bakery container, soda can, soup can, jar, frozen dinner or pizza, salad dressing bottle, or 99% of what you can eat at restaurants or fast food places.Processed foods are packed with salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats.  You have to read the labels.  I recently looked at a label of “healthy” whole wheat bread.  I could not believe my eyes; two slices of this “healthy” bread had 500 mg of sodium and 12 grams of sugar!  It is a mystery why food manufactures feel that they need to add huge quantities of salt and 3 teaspoons of sugar to two slices of “healthy” whole wheat bread (1 teaspoatrial fibrillationon equals 4 g of sugar)!Moreover, these foods have been shown to be highly addictive[10].  The processed food industry knows this and these addictions lead to huge corporate profits.  We need to get back to the basics and only purchase “real food” and then prepare our own food fresh!
  3. Focus on a Plant Based Diet and Fish!
    If we can focus our diets on fresh whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, beans, and fish we will dramatically reduce the salt in our diets and our we will definitely lose weight.  Indeed, studies have shown that if we can eat more of these items in our diet our weight will drop an average of 7 pounds without even dieting and our blood pressure will drop 11 points[11]. In addition, this type of a diet has been shown to help prevent heart disease, cancer, dementia, and significantly prolong life[12]!
By: John D Day MD

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