Lifestyle Changes to Manage Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

If you have arrhythmias that cause problems, but are not serious or life-threatening, there are steps you can take to handle them. Making changes in your life will let you be as active as you can and will help your quality of life.

Lower Your Chances of Getting an Arrhythmia

Control Fatigue

If arrhythmia causes you to tire out, you may have to limit how much you do. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you. If you are being treated for heart failure, arrhythmias can make it worse. Fixing the arrhythmia may ease problems caused by it.

Avoid Triggers

Certain substances make your heart rate higher. This can trigger an arrhythmia. Keep track of what they are and how they make you feel. The most common are:

  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Dietary and herbal supplements
  • Over-the-counter and prescription medicines—some are used to treat arrhythmia
  • Illegal drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines

Managing Recurring Arrhythmias

Keep Track of Your Pulse

It's important to check your pulse every once in a while, especially if you have an artificial pacemaker. Doing so will help you to keep track of your heart rate. Normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats a minute. Your doctor will tell you what range to be in.

Tracking Sudden Loss of Control

Some arrhythmias might cause you to lose control or faint without warning. Try to keep away from situations when you always need to be alert such as driving. For your sake and the safety of others, don't drive a motor vehicle or dangerous equipment until the risk of losing control has passed. Don't work or be in dangerous places such as ladders, rooftops, trees, or cliffs.

Other Management

  • Stay in touch with your healthcare team, stick with your treatment plan, and go to all scheduled appointments. Your needs may change over time. Regular contact with your healthcare team will help you stay on top of any changes.
  • Be an active participant in your care. Talk to your team about symptoms or treatments that you are having a hard time with. There may be other methods to help you better manage your arrhythmia.

References:

Arrhythmia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/arrhythmia. Accessed January 3, 2019.
Atrial fibrillation. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115288/Atrial-fibrillation. Updated August 22, 2018. Accessed January 3, 2019.
Colucci R, Silver M, Shubrook J. Common types of supraventricular tachycardia: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(8):942-952.
Prevention and treatment of arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/prevention--treatment-of-arrhythmia. Updated December 21, 2016. Accessed January 3, 2019.
Ventricular arrhythmias. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated October 19, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 1/3/2019

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