Atrial fibrillation is the disturbance of the heart beat to an irregular pattern. Atrial fibrillation is due to normal wear and tear on the heart muscle and also due to cardiovascular problems such as hypertension (high blood pressure). During atrial fibrillation, the electrical activity of the atria becomes uncoordinated. The atria beat so rapidly, as fast as 350-600 beats a minute, that instead of producing a single, forceful contraction, they fibrillate (quiver). Atrial fibrillation can be intermittent, lasting a few minutes to an hour or more, before returning to a regular heart rhythm.
COMMON RISK FACTORS FOR ATRIAL FIBRILLATION
- age and genetics
- stress and nervousness
- alcohol consumption
- other underlying cardiovascular conditions such as coronary heart disease
- electrolyte imbalances
- over use of stimulants (coffee, tea, nicotine, recreational drugs)
- thyroid conditions
Addressing nervousness and anxiety is recommended in cases such as altered heart beats as there is a direct relationship between the health of the heart muscle and the nervous system. Everybody knows the effect of a sudden accident or scare has on the rhythm of the heart (it beats wildly). This is due to stress hormones such as Cortisol and Adrenaline causing the heart to leap into a fight/ flight response.
DIET TIPS TO IMPROVE CARDIOVASCULAR FUNCTION
- Increase foods which contain Oligomeric Procyanidins (OPC’s) such as blueberries, grapes, bilberry’s, cranberries, pine bark, dark chocolate and red wine
- Increase foods to improve circulation such as antioxidant rich foods – blueberries, green tea, grapes, berries, pineapples, chillies, dark chocolate, garlic, turmeric, fish, ginger and olive oil
- Ensure that you are drinking sufficient amounts of water (at least 2 litres/ day) as dehydration can cause the tissues to hold onto excessive amounts of fluids
- In addition, aim for a healthy lifestyle with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, quality organic dairy products, a wide range of quality protein sources in your diet such as legumes, nuts and seeds
LIFESTYLE FACTORS TO IMPROVE CARDIOVASCULAR FUNCTION
- Avoid smoking and alcohol intake as they dramatically affect the health of the cardiovascular system and contribute to overstimulation of the heart muscle
- Get your cholesterol levels in check.
- Manage stress levels by practicing yoga, meditation, breathing exercises or be more active
- Consider losing some weight if you are carrying any extra kilograms. Being overweight or unfit causes the cardiovascular system (especially the heart muscle) to work overtime which often places an extra strain on it
- Begin an exercise regime to improve circulation, removal of wastes, oxygenate the blood, encourage general wellbeing and break down congestion which may all be contributing factors to poor cardiovascular health
- Reduce or avoid stimulants in your diet
- Acupuncture, relaxation therapy or hypnosis may be of assistance to improve the energetics of the cardiovascular system
NATURAL REMEDIES TO IMPROVE CARDIOVASCULAR FUNCTION
- Bilberry, Gotu Kola, Gingko, Bacopa and Dan Shen, Hawthorn, Garlic, and Grape seeds are all herbs which support circulation to the peripheries, strengthen the capillaries and heart, decrease venous congestion and increase venous circulation. Please inform your doctor before taking any additional medicines to your prescription. Some natural medicines can interact adversely with the medicines you are already taking
- Take a fish oil supplement to improve circulation as it contains essential fatty acids which are imperative to the health of the cardiovascular system
- Take a formulation to support the nervous system which contains Magnesium, B Vitamins or herbs such as Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, Magnolia or Sacred Basil
- Magnesium is a mineral which is imperative for the health of the heart muscle by improving the conductivity of the heart and reducing the effect nervous tension has on the heart muscle
- Consider taking a supplement which contains CoQ10, the heart muscle stores and requires high amounts of this nutrient. CoQ10 has an effect o improving circulation and oxygenation to the heart muscle and improving the rhythm of the beat by improving electrical conduction
- Vitamin E is also an essential nutrient for cardiovascular function and works as a co-factor to improve the efficiency of CoQ10
It is important to consult your doctor about any changes you are considering. Your doctor is the primary carer and should be consulted about any complimentary medicines options that may help to assist her condition.
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