Lifestyle Changes for Atrial Fibrillation & Atrial Flutter

People who have atrial fibrillation (AFib) and atrial flutter are at increased risk for conditions that affect the heart, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and heart attack. By following a heart-healthy lifestyle, you can limit experiences that trigger AFib or atrial flutter, as well as reduce your risk of heart disease.

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Heart specialists at NYU Langone’s Heart Rhythm Center recommend the following lifestyle changes for atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation management.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy diet and exercise play a major role in preventing heart disease and reducing symptoms related to AFib and atrial flutter. NYU Langone’s heart specialists collaborate with experts at the Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease to help you learn how to make healthy food choices and adopt a reasonable exercise routine.

Limiting caffeine and alcohol can reduce symptoms of arrhythmia. Caffeine has been shown to speed up heart rate, and alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you smoke or use tobacco products, it’s recommended that you stop. NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can help you break the habit.

Talk to your doctor before taking over-the-counter cough and cold medications, herbal treatments, and stimulants prescribed to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Some of these can trigger an arrhythmia.

Managing Sleep Apnea

Doctors have found an association between AFib and sleep apnea, a condition in which an airway blockage repeatedly interrupts breathing while you sleep.

To ease symptoms of sleep apnea, sleep experts may recommend reducing or eliminating alcohol and sedative use, changing your sleep position, or using a mouth guard or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that keeps the airway open while you sleep. Our experts can refer you for treatment with doctors at NYU Langone’s Sleep Disorders Program.

Reducing Stress

Studies have shown that too much stress can raise your blood pressure and trigger AFib or atrial flutter. To better manage stress, your doctor may recommend that you talk with a therapist who can teach you different coping techniques. Your doctor might also suggest breathing exercises, yoga, or acupuncture, which are available through NYU Langone’s integrative health services.

Ask About Over-the-Counter Medications

Some over-the-counter cough and cold medications contain stimulants, which may trigger an arrhythmia. Ask your NYU Langone doctor which medications or herbal treatments are right for you and use them as directed.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise can help you lose weight and reduce high blood pressure. Taking a brisk 30-minute walk every day can improve your heart health and reduce the risk of triggering an arrhythmia. Your doctor determines the kind of physical activity that’s right for you.

Our Research and Education in Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.