As the most common type of heart arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a heart condition that is estimated to affect up to six-million Americans. People with AFib experience an irregular heartbeat, but what does that really mean?
Normally, your body will send an electrical signal from the upper chambers of your heart (the atria) to the lower chambers (the ventricles) causing blood to pump from the atria to the ventricles and then out to your body. For people with AFib, these electrical signals trigger erratically, causing the heart to quiver, or fibrillate. The underlying cause of AFib can be one of many factors, including age, other heart conditions such as high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, sleep apnea or even drinking alcohol or beverages with caffeine.
THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO ABOUT YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
Blood pressure guidelines published by the American Heart Association changed in recent years. Most importantly, the threshold for high blood pressure was lowered, which means many Americans who were previously in the healthy range may now have high blood pressure.
So what can you do to address high blood pressure? Here are a few tips:
1. Have regular checkups.
Schedule a visit with your primary care doctor to talk about your blood pressure, how often it should be measured and whether it is in a normal range.
2. Watch what you eat.
Focus on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins, as well as foods that are low in saturated or trans fats. Cooking more instead of eating out lets you control your salt intake, which helps lower blood pressure.
3. Stay active.
Even an increase in steps can be a way to improve your heart health. Try taking a nice walk or even doing chores, such as mowing the lawn. Playing sports or games that get you moving can also be a fun way to increase the amount of physical activity you get.
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