Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is the most common cardiac rhythm disease seen by cardiologists, and the number of persons affected is on the rise, with more than 5 million new cases diagnosed each year throughout the world. Advancement in age, high blood pressure, heart artery disease, and obesity are the most prevalent drivers of the Afib epidemic, but the reasons for Afib are diverse and varied - even young, healthy persons and endurance athletes might be prone to atrial fibrillation.As obesity and lifestyle variables (such as being sedentary) are linked to Afib, researchers wondered if increasing physical activity and losing weight would be an effective treatment.
The Wonders of Weight Loss & Physical Activity
It's not surprising that lowering weight and getting more exercise can help with Afib, but the extent of improvement has been astonishing in some studies.
One of the first studies to look at the impact of weight reduction on Afib found that obese people who dropped 10% of their body weight had a 6 times lower risk of recurrence of Afib than those who didn't. These findings were validated in a more recent investigation. According to the study, those who lost more than 10% of their body weight had less Afib, whereas those who lost less than 3% of their body weight had less Afib.Getting in better shape has also been found to be beneficial. According to one study, 61% of those who were able to increase their treadmill time by around 2 minutes were Afib-free, compared to only 18% of those who did not raise their treadmill time.
You have every right to be concerned about your high blood pressure. High blood pressure is known as the "silent killer" for a reason.Despite the fact that high blood pressure rarely causes symptoms, it has a negative impact on our health. Every day, more than 2000 people in the world die as a result of high blood pressure. Almost every minute, someone dies as a result of this. It increases the chance of dementia and kidney failure and is one of the primary causes of two of our most feared diseases - heart attack, and stroke.
1. Be Aware of Your Blood Pressure
Check your blood pressure at home if possible. Automatic blood pressure cuffs that are reliable and easy to use are inexpensive and commonly available. Buy the ones that wrap around your upper arm. Although it may be tempting to depend on your doctor's blood pressure readings, the truth is that these readings are more often than not erroneous. Regularly testing your blood pressure at home (it's crucial to sit quietly for 5 minutes before taking it) can enable you to become your own blood pressure expert and assist your doctor in determining the best treatment options for your blood pressure. Consult your doctor about how often and when to monitor your blood pressure.
2. Find Out What's Causing Your High Blood Pressure
If you had a kitchen faucet that was constantly running, you wouldn't clean it with a mop. You'd shut off the water supply. When it comes to managing your blood pressure, the same rationale applies. If you have a cause, the best cure is to get rid of it.
The following are some of the most common reasons for high blood pressure:
Sedentary lifestyle – Even moderate levels of movement can help lower blood pressure and reduce the need for drugs.
Eating a lot of processed food, especially if it's heavy in salt.
Being overweight – Losing 5% – 10% of your body weight can drop your blood pressure as much as or more than any medication.
Excessive alcohol consumption - Having more than one drink each day can raise your blood pressure.
Sleep apnea that isn't treated - Sleep apnea affects 30 percent to 50 percent of patients with high blood pressure, with the majority of cases going undiagnosed. Ask your doctor if you should be tested for sleep apnea if you snore, don't feel refreshed when you wake up, or your partner sees you stop breathing while sleeping.
Primary aldosteronism is a condition in which the hormone aldosterone is produced. This is a hormone condition that was long thought to be uncommon, but current studies have revealed that it is extremely widespread. If your blood pressure is uncontrollably high despite many medications, consult your doctor to see if high aldosterone levels are to blame.
Consult your doctor to find out what's causing your high blood pressure. While genetics have a role, researchers believe that half or more of high blood pressure is caused by variables within our control.
3. Take Your Meds As Prescribed
Nobody enjoys taking medicines. We also feel that we should all be selective about the drugs we take (including supplements) and understand the benefits and hazards.If your blood pressure is usually over 130/80, even after you've done everything you can to cure the reasons for high blood pressure, you're at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and early death if you don't take your blood pressure meds. The first-line blood pressure drugs work well, are affordable, and have few side effects. Working with your doctor to develop a treatment plan for high blood pressure that makes sense to you is crucial.
Many people who would benefit from taking a statin do not do so because they are afraid of the side effects. Is the risk of adverse effects, however, truly greater than the benefits?
What are Statins?
HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, also known as statins, are cholesterol-lowering drugs. Because each of these medications' names (such as atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, simvastatin, etc.) ends in "-statin," they are referred to as statins. Statins are among the most often prescribed pharmaceuticals in the world. They're also some of the most contentious. You've probably heard or read about the negative effects of statins, even if you don't take them. They’re known to induce liver failure and memory problems.While some of this is true, the reality is considerably different from what you may have been made to believe. Understanding the dangers and advantages is the first step in deciding if statins are good for you.
What are the Advantages of taking Statins?
If you're thinking about taking a statin, this is crucial information to know. Statins are one of the most commonly given drugs because there is a mountain of data indicating they reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death in those who are at high risk for heart disease.With more than 40 trials comparing statins to placebo and showing that they cut the incidence of heart attack, stroke, and death in a high-risk group, statins may be the most studied drug in medical history. There is no discussion these days among medical specialists about whether statins function in high-risk patients.
Over the course of 2-5 years, people who took statins had 20% -40% fewer heart attacks, strokes, and fatalities than those who did not (exceptions include those on dialysis or those with symptomatic heart failure). This shows that the benefits of statins are obvious in the risk vs. benefit debate.
Stroke & Coronary Artery Disease
The death of roughly 25% of people is the earliest indicator of heart disease. Doctors call this "Sudden Death," however there are usually indicators prior to death that is overlooked.
So, what are the signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease?
Although most people are familiar with chest pain or pressure radiating to the left arm, these "classic" symptoms are not the most common. Individual differences in how heart illness manifests themselves make it difficult for all of us, including doctors, to discern when symptoms are heart-related.
This is the counsel that should be provided to patients regarding suspected cardiac issues:
1. Symptoms that appear in response to physical exercise or emotional stress and then disappear with rest should be investigated by a medical practitioner.
2. Symptoms such as chest pain or pressure, nausea, indigestion, or heartburn that don't go away – especially if they're accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, palpitations, or the sense of passing out – should be assessed by a medical practitioner as soon as possible.
Diet & Lifestyle
Here are some recommendations that can be made to patients who want to eat a heart-healthy diet.
1. There is no such thing as a "perfect" diet for everyone.
The beauty – and problem – of medicine is how unique we all are, and how the same treatment can elicit various reactions in different people. A drug that saves one person's life can have deadly negative effects on another.Diet follows the same principle. While one individual may have incredible results with a particular diet, this does not guarantee that you will achieve the same results. And just because a diet doesn't work for you doesn't mean it won't work for someone else.
2. The diet should appeal to you (even better if you love it).
Even if we had evidence that one diet is the best, if you don't consume it, it won't help you. When we're hungry, we don't perform well, and if you're eating things you don't enjoy, you're setting yourself up for failure.Find a healthy eating pattern that you enjoy and that you enjoy in return. There are far too many delicious and healthy options to settle for anything you don't enjoy.
3. Limit your intake of highly processed foods.
This is the rule to follow if you only follow one of the six. Highly processed foods account for over 70% of the diet, and they are a key contribution to the obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure epidemics.
What do you mean by highly processed foods?
Processed food is food that has been manufactured and has added sugars (such as high fructose corn syrup) or refined grains (for example, white flour or white rice). Preservatives and other chemicals are frequently found in these foods, which you would not recognize as food.
4. Include fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based items in your diet.
Vegetables and other plant-based meals should be a large part of your diet, according to every credible expert.This doesn't mean you have to be a vegetarian, but incorporating plant-based foods into the majority of your meals will help your heart.
5. Size does matter.
Eating too much, even if it's nutritious food, is still too much.Slowing down, eating mindfully, and serving meals on smaller plates are all tried and true methods for reducing your food intake without feeling hungry.
6. Prepare meals at home.
Who has time to cook these days? You are the one who is in charge! Cooking at home is often faster than eating out, and the advantages are undeniable. Home-prepared meals provide better quality food, lower costs, a greater bond with loved ones, and a healthy weight, to name a few advantages.
A healthy lifestyle, especially when begun at a young age, can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Heart-harming tendencies, such as high blood pressure or excessive cholesterol, can be stifled with lifestyle modifications and drugs before they create damage. If the heart is damaged, a range of drugs, procedures, and gadgets can help maintain it. But prevention is always better than cure!
A motivated student of Medicine & Surgery (MBBS) at R. G. Kar Medical College & Hospital, Kolkata, having a knack for reading and composing medical literature. When he's not writing content for MEDtalks, Swapnil is usually looking up the latest trends and innovations in Medicine.