Even people who look healthy and free of heart disease can have arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). But those with heart disease are at the highest risk. So, reducing heart disease is important to lowering the risk of arrhythmias. Since the cause of an arrhythmia is not always clear, the best course of action is to prevent and treat heart problems, such as atherosclerosis (“clogged” arteries) and high blood pressure.
Preventing Arrhythmias and Heart Disease
Prevent heart disease by lowering risk factors that can lead to heart disease or cardiac heart rhythm problems, and by monitoring and treating any existing heart problems.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices. Living a “heart healthy” life is the best way to reduce the chances of developing heart disorders. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a healthy, low-fat diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and other vitamin-rich foods are the cornerstones of “heart healthy” living.
- Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke (smoke from other people). Tobacco contributes to as much as one-third of all heart disease.
- Avoid or limit the intake of caffeine, alcohol, and other substances that may contribute to abnormal heart rhythms or heart disease.
- Avoid unnecessary stress, such as anger, anxiety, or fear, and find ways to manage or control stressful situations that cannot be avoided.
- Have regular physical exams and tell your doctor right away about any unusual symptoms you have.
- Talk to a doctor about treating health problems that may contribute to abnormal heart rhythms and heart disease, including atherosclerosis (“clogged” arteries), heart valve damage, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and thyroid disease.
Risk Factors For Arrhythmias and Heart Disease
The following conditions can increase the chance of developing arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms:
- Coronary artery disease (blockage in the arteries/pipes of the heart)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- A high-fat diet
- Excessive use of alcohol (more than 2 drinks per day)
- Drug abuse
- Family history of heart disease
- Advancing age (getting older)
- Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies
Monitoring and Treating Arrhythmias and Heart Disease
Effectively treating any existing heart disorder is the best way to prevent it from becoming worse.
- Understand how some health conditions may increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms.
- Learn about heart disorders, tests, and treatment options, and talk to your doctor or other health care provider.
- Find out if your heart's electrical system and its ability to pump blood have been affected by heart muscle damage from a heart attack or another cause.
- Learn the importance of an ejection fraction (EF), which measures the pumping function of the heart. EF is a measure of the proportion, or fraction, of blood the heart pumps out with each beat. An abnormally low EF is the single most important factor in predicting the risk of sudden cardiac death (dying from an abnormal heart rhythm).
- Follow treatment plans, and take all medications as prescribed.
- Report any new symptoms or changes in existing symptoms to your doctor/health care provider as soon as possible.