“You make my heart skip a beat!” While the sentiment is sweet and romantic, as Valentine’s Day approaches, it is important to keep in mind that an actual skipped heartbeat could be a sign of something more serious, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib), especially if it occurs often and is accompanied by other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness and excess sweat.
AFib is one of the most common heart conditions, affecting at least 2.7 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association. Many people describe their heart as fluttering, “changing gears” or having a flip-flopping sensation. What causes this sensation is the irregular beating of the heart’s upper chambers, preventing proper blood flow and doubling the risk of heart-related death and increasing the risk of a stroke by five times. This is why it is important to know how to manage AFib to reduce the risk of other heart-related problems or stroke.
So this Valentine’s Day, whether you’re celebrating with loved ones or on your own, don’t forget to show your own heart some love, too. Here are a couple tips for a heart-healthy life.
Getting and staying active may be the hardest plan to stick to, but staying physically active is one of the most important steps toward a healthier heart. And the best part is you don’t need to go to the gym to stay heart-healthy. According to the American Heart Association, adults need at least two hours and thirty minutes of exercise per week. This can be broken into 30 minutes per day, which can be further broken into smaller amounts of time as long as you are exercising at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 10 minutes at a time. That’s an easy jog or run on the treadmill or around your neighborhood in the morning or right after work. You can even walk if that suits you better.
Eating well can sometimes be difficult, too, especially for those who aren’t fans of cooking or have a hard time doing so. It can be so tempting to grab something quick and tasty to satisfy your craving. However, a heart-healthy diet requires limiting processed sugars, saturated fats and sodium, all or many of which are included in processed foods. A good way to cut down on processed food consumption is to add color to your diet. Start reaching for natural snacks rather than premade ones. Fruits are great snacks and colorful veggies not only make any meal look and taste fancier, they provide you with the nutrients that are vital to your health, immune system and overall body function. If you find you don’t have time to cook every day, meal prepping is a good solution. Pick one or two days of the week to cook one or two meals and make enough to last until the next time you want to cook (or at least until you get tired of eating the same meal). This reduces mess in the kitchen and saves time and money!
Always consult your doctor before starting any new treatment, exercise program or diet. A health care professional will help you properly decide what kind of treatment will most benefit for your individual needs.