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Reducing Your Risk of Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

Authors:
  • Michael Jubinville, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Reducing Your Risk of Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

Arrhythmias have many causes. Long term health problems may cause heart damage over many years. A heart attack may cause sudden, urgent problems. The best way to keep this from happening is to keep your heart healthy. Many risks can be changed or controlled. The more risks you have, the higher the chances of having heart rhythm problems.

How to Lower Your Risk of Arrhythmias

There are a few steps you can take to lower your chances of certain types.

Control Stress

Stress may raise your risk of arrhythmias if you have other risks. Stress or anxiety can quickly raise your blood pressure and heart rate. Long term stress can make problems worse. If you can't get rid of stress from your life, you can take steps to control it with:

  • Counseling
  • Stress management classes
  • Learning how to relax
  • Yoga
  • Regular exercise

Know the Medicines You Take

Ask your doctor how your medicines affect your heart rhythm. If you are already at a high risk, ask about other medicines you can take in their place. Common ones are:

  • Diet pills
  • Medicines used to treat:
    • Heart diseases
    • Asthma
    • Mental health problems
    • Thyroid problems
  • Cough and cold remedies
  • Opioids to ease pain

Don't Use Illegal Drugs

Stay away from drugs, mainly cocaine and amphetamines. They make your heart beat faster. This can lead to heart damage and arrhythmias.

References

  • Cardiovascular disease prevention overview. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116873/Cardiovascular-disease-prevention-overview. Updated February 22, 2018. Accessed January 3, 2019.
  • D'Alessandro A, Boeckelmann I, Hammwhoner M, Goette A. Nicotine, cigarette smoking and cardiac arrhythmia: An overview. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2012;19(3):297-305.
  • Illegal drugs and heart disease. American Heart Association website. Available at:https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/illegal-drugs-and-heart-disease. Accessed January 3, 2019.
  • Leaf A. Omega-3 fatty acids and prevention of arrhythmias. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2007;18(1):31-34.
  • Prevention strategies for atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF). American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation/treatment-and-prevention-of-atrial-fibrillation/prevention-strategies-for-atrial-fibrillation-afib-or-af. Accessed January 3, 2019.
  • Stress management. Help Guide website. Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm. Updated December 2018. Accessed January 3, 2019.
  • 12/9/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115449/Dietary-considerations-for-cardiovascular-disease-prevention: Bao Y, Han J, Hu FB, et al. Association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. N Engl J Med. 2013;369(21):2001-2011.
  • 7/1/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115288/Atrial-fibrillation: Qureshi WT, O'Neal WT, Khodneva Y, et al. Association between opioid use and atrial fibrillation: The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(6):1058-1060.
  • 12/15/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113884/Physical-activity-for-cardiovascular-disease-prevention. Ekelund U, Steene-Johannessen J, Brown WJ. Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women. Lancet 2016;388(10051):1302-1310.

Contributors

  • Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated:
2018-12-01

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.