EXERCISE AND DIET FOR THE AFIB HEART

THE AFIB DIET

Also read 20 diet tips to prevent afib, Today!

THE BIG 5

CAFFEINE

During one of my mountain bike training rides in 2011 I used an energy drink with caffeine in it. I know what all you “old” afibbers will think – are you mad!!-. I can’t remember if I just did not think or if somebody gave it to me during the ride, but all I know is that I took it. We did a 65 km route (about 3 hours) and nothing happened during the ride, that was the Monday. On the Tuesday morning I felt something was wrong, but thought it could be my stomach. My heart was not racing, it was more of a sort of irregular beat, uncomfortable feeling, and thumping inside my chest. It was difficult to describe but I knew something was not right.

Well that Thursday morning I was in hospital with afib.

My experience is that “normal” intake of caffeine with coffee is OK, but any other caffeine-filled energy drinks, snack bars or supplements must be avoided.

 

ALCOHOL

It can put your heart in afib, because like caffeine it also is a stimulant. So I enjoy light beers and red wine, but know that stronger drinks are dangerous. I am embarrassed to say that one night of too much, mixed with an early morning mountain bike ride put me into afib.

 

MAGNESIUM

A deficiency in magnesium has been linked to irregular heartbeat and many other health conditions. Most of the magnesium in your body is stored in your bones,  and is very important for the health of your heart and bones. Although only 1% of magnesium is stored in you blood the doctor will test your blood to see if your magnesium levels are alright when you have an afib attack. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is 420 mg/day for men and 320 mg/day for women afibbers.org

There are many magnesium supplements available.

Is magnesium so important?  Well a book “The Magnesium Factor” by M.S. Seelig, MD, MPH and A. Rosanoff, PhD , says it is and may answer that question (I have not read it yet).

CALCIUM

High calcium levels can cause Afib as mentioned in, http://blog.parathyroid.com/atrial-fibrillation-high-calcium/

 

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D is required for optimum absorption of magnesium.It is important to get adequate sun (vitamin D) exposure daily or to take a vitamin D-3 supplement when using oral replenishment of magnesium afibbers.org

AFIB EXERCISE

REGULAR

Keep on with regular exercise, but think of afib exercise, and don’t think that if you did a marathon a year ago you can do it again without any preparation, ok bad example, but you understand what I mean. Ease into it if you have not been exercising for a while.

Exercise is good for the afib heart, read this new  research: Exercise pays dividends

MODERATE

Yes! moderate is different for you and me, but keep it moderate for your standards pre-afib. My feeling is that with ball sports you are mainly driven by the chase for the ball, and then you may go over your limit, as in squash/racquetball (racketball in the UK). At Wikipedia under the section, you can read more about some of the opinions about how good or bad squash is for your heart. My opinion is high level/competitive squash can put your heart in afib, but moderate squash can be very good for your health, don’t let the ball rule your heart!

One of the big questions is “Does long-time participation in endurance damage your heart?” In a post by Dr Larry Creswell he talked about a study mentioned in Circulation done by Philipp Bohm and his colleagues from the  Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine at Saarland University in Germany, where he came to the conclusion that ” long-time participation in endurance sports does not necessarily result in unexplained fibrosis in the heart”.

For now, I love to mountain bike and it is my preferred sport, I love to Janco afib exercise MTB stillbe outdoors and the lower impact and heart rate is good for my afib heart.

 

15 thoughts on “EXERCISE AND DIET FOR THE AFIB HEART

  1. Thank you for the information, I have vagus afib and I have a healthy heart otherwise. I have been feeling flutters at night lately when dozing off at night, every night , when just a few weeks ago I could go months without an episode, must go see the electrophysiologists and see whats going on. I am going to get magnesium and vitamin d-3 today to see if that helps.

    1. Hi Lynn, What is vagus Afib? I have read about it and have symptoms just like yours. Thanksgiving overeating sets it off etc. I mentioned it to my electrophysiologist and he blew me off that that wasn’t really a thing. I don’t have it often but get it more when I over eat and especially when I lay down. I just turned 60 and I am in great shape, the Doctor has me on light does of flecainide, metoprolol and eliquis but if it is controllable through diet and exercise I would rather cut back on meds.

  2. Hey Janco,

    Thank you for this blog and sharing the story! I just turned 30, sadly greeted my birthday in the hospital, and my heart has went out of rhytm 4 times since January this year. Doctors are still trying to find what is the reason for this as otherwise my heart is healthy and 3/4 cases I was sleeping or not doing anything in particular prior the afib. I’ve started recently reading more on the topic as i am trying to find what can be causing it, what my triggers are and also trying to avoid ablation unless necessary. That’s how I found your blog, thanks again for sharing your story, I find it inspiring and gives me home that I haven’t lost the life I had just an year ago, it is my choice if i want to take the extra mile and have it back as soon as i change my habbits and start exercising.

    All the best all the way from Bulgaria,
    Aleks

  3. Hi Janco,

    Have you ever tried a less active (or more sedentary) lifestyle and see how it affects your afib condition? According to this article: https://academic.oup.com/europace/article/11/1/11/489611
    lone afibber tend to be very dependent on physical activity and it is difficult to follow the advise of limiting their physical activity.

    I’m also a lone affiber in my mid-40s and I’m getting an ablation next week. I wish I could find a key to stop afib from coming back after the procedure. This article has several key points that fits my profile:

    1. I have a history of jogging for more than 13 years although I’m not really athletic. I was diagnosed with paroxysmal Afib when I was 45 with otherwise a normal heart.

    2. Afib tends to happen after a meal (especially dinner) or while I was asleep when vagal tone rises.

    3. My condition was controlled well by Flecainide for several months until it looses effectiveness about a month after I started jogging again.

    4. The doctor first prescribed Propafenone to me but it had no effect. On the other hand, Flecainide worked extremely well due to its vagolytic effect even though they are both class Ic drug (i.e. Na+ channel block). See Dr. Coumel’s comment on this: https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/23/6/431/433944

    5. I was also diagnosed with GERD which could serve as a modulator according to the article.

    I guess it’s difficult to determine how much excise is too much and everyone has a different threshold. I wich we could all find our balanced lifestyle to live an afib-free life.

    1. Hi Chun-Huai Cheng

      Thank you for the great comment.
      I have an enlarged right atrium due to my Tetralogy of Fallot condition. That is my main reason for going into AFIB.
      But with that said I have gone into AFIB with no exercise, medium exercise, lots of eating, on a clean stomach.
      It really is so strange because earlier this year I trained a lot in February, did a 67 mile(109km) race in March and my heart stayed in sinus.

      Then in May only did a slow warmup and then it went into AFIB.

      Let’s keep on searching for some kind of answer.
      Keep in touch

      Janco Vorster

  4. Hi Janco,

    It makes sense your enlarged right atrium is the main reason. But could your Feburary-March training/race also contribute to the later AFib relapse in May? My point is, it might be a longer term effect. In my case, when I started jogging again I was in sinus as well. However, about a month or two later, AFib started to come back. Just my two cents.

    P.S. I just got my first ablation. My heart rate has been raised from 60-80 to 80-100 since the procedure. Really hope it’ll slow down eventually.

    Wish you best luck.

  5. Janco,
    I was diagnosed with afib 4 years ago, I am 68 now. My heart has raced off and on since I was in my thirties. I am an avid tennis player and exercise at least 3 times a week and have very few times in a month my heart races now. The only times it races now is when I get stupid and have a strong drink or bad meal. I am on 3 different meds and they seem to work. I have had one cardio version, where the doctor stops and starts my heart , this seems to help keep me from going into afib. My doctor wants to do a PVI ablation on me and I am not sure I need it at this point in my life. What is your thought on this.

    1. Hi David

      With ablation, my opinion is that it has more to do with the doctor who is doing the procedure. I think it is just as safe as many other procedures but information about who is doing it is important. Experience, know-how, the best equipment, and the latest techniques all play a role. I have just had my 2nd ablation in October and thankfully it went well.
      During my life, I’ve had more than 10 cardioversions, but this year alone I had 4. That is why my cardiologist decided that another ablation is the best treatment for me in my situation.
      To be safe get a 2nd opinion.

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