AFib is the common way that people refer to a heart condition called atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is when the heart beats in an abnormal or irregular rhythm. There are many different kinds of AFib, so it is described in different ways. Some people say it feels like a fluttering in the chest, others say their heart is pounding, and still others report a feeling of the heart skipping a beat. Regardless of the type of AFib your aging relative has, it can increase their chances of having a stroke or experiencing heart failure.
There are a variety of things that can trigger AFib in older adults. One thing that can be a trigger is drinking alcohol. However, new research suggests that certain patterns of drinking may be more dangerous for people with AFib than others.
Alcohol and AFib
The study concerning alcohol and AFib involved information gathered from 9.7 million people who did not have AFib when they had a medical checkup in 2009. Each participant was asked about their alcohol consumption. After the checkup, researchers followed them until 2017.
The results of the study showed that the number of times per week a person drank had the greatest impact on AFib risk. Those who drank every day were at the highest risk. Those who drank once or twice per week had the second highest risk. There didn’t appear to be any correlation between binge drinking and AFib.
In addition to the number of times per week the participants drank, the amount they drank was important. People who drank a moderate amount of alcohol had a 7.7 percent higher risk of developing AFib. In comparison, heavy drinkers had a 21.5 percent higher risk.
Tips for Preventing AFib
While research shows that controlling the amount of alcohol an older adult drinks can make a difference in preventing AFib, there are other steps that can also help, such as:
Lose Weight: People who are overweight are at greater risk for getting AFib. In fact, people who were overweight and lost weight have been known to eliminate existing AFib. The more weight a senior loses, the more likely it is that their AFib will resolve itself.
Eat Healthier: A heart-healthy diet protects the heart and reduces the chances of AFib as well as other kinds of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet is one that focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It reduces the amount of saturated fats and avoids trans fats.
Control Other Conditions: Certain conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes, increase the risk for AFib. Keeping these conditions under control can help to prevent AFib.
Elder care providers can help to protect your older family member from AFib. An elder care provider can cook heart healthy meals that also provide all the nutrition the older adult needs to stay healthy. Elder care providers can also help them to lose weight by making meals that are low in calorie as well as increasing their physical activity. In addition, elder care can make a difference in your aging relative’s ability to control other conditions by reminding them to take their medications as well as offering transportation to medical appointments.