Dealing with Dangerous Combinations
Once you’ve uncovered a specific trigger, it’s not so difficult to avoid it during your everyday life. But when you stray from your daily routine, it can be difficult to acknowledge, separate, and track different triggers. In some circumstances, these can add up and put you at even greater risk:
Holidays and Celebrations
Even happy, lively gatherings can cause unpleasant symptoms. In fact, “holiday heart” is a surprisingly common condition for AFib sufferers, where alcohol use, overeating, fatigue, and overstimulation put a lot of stress on your body. And since you’re likely to be distracted from small physical warning signs when there’s a party going on, you could find yourself in the middle of an uncomfortable AFib attack before you know it.
Alcohol is a top trigger for AFib, and it also affects everyone a bit differently. Some people can have a drink or two without any noticeable physiological change, but for others, half a beer may be too much. Know your limit – and don’t test it!
Long trips throw a wrench into your regular routine, and can bring about a host of AFib triggers before you even reach your destination. Fatigue, dehydration, and changes to sleep patterns are almost guaranteed when air travel is involved, unless you take some measures to counteract the challenges.
Keep your body from reverting to the fight or flight response by resting and recharging at regular intervals. This means drinking water – more than you think you need – and taking naps as needed, or at least practicing deep breathing and calming visualization exercises.
Recovering from Illness
Many AFib patients must take some form of medication to manage their symptoms, but even when the condition is under control, you aren’t immune from common, minor illnesses.
An infection can be taxing, but treating the illness can cause problems if the medication doesn’t mesh well with your AFib drugs. Even pain relievers could be problematic: caffeine is a common ingredient in many brands, and even a modest amount can affect heart rhythm in susceptible people.
When you live with another chronic inflammatory like RA or asthma, you could face an even greater challenge. Steroids have recently been tied to a greater AFib risk, and receiving high-dose steroid therapy could trigger an AFib episode. In the end, the better you record your medications, new symptoms or illness, and changes in your environment, the better you can find and avoid your AFib triggers.