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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)
by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
If you have arrhythmias that cause symptoms, but are not serious or life-threatening, there are steps you can take to manage them. Lifestyle changes will improve your quality of life and allow you to be as active as possible.
Decrease Your Risk of Developing an Arrhythmia
If your arrhythmia causes you to tire easily, you may have to limit your physical activities. Talk to your doctor about how much physical activity is appropriate for you. If you are being treated for heart failure, an arrhythmia can worsen the condition. Correcting the arrhythmia may improve your symptoms.
Specific substances increase your heart rate and may trigger an arrhythmia. Monitor how substances affect your heart rate. Common substances that may cause problems include:
Managing Recurring Arrhythmias
Monitor Your Pulse
It is important to check your pulse periodically, especially if you have an artificial pacemaker. Checking your pulse allows you to keep track of your heart rate. Normal heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute. Talk to your doctor about what range your pulse should be.
Managing Sudden Loss of Control
If your arrhythmia might cause you to lose control or faint without warning, avoid situations that require constant alertness, such as driving. For your sake and the safety of others, do not operate motor vehicles or dangerous equipment until the risk of losing control has been resolved. Avoid working or even being in dangerous places, such as ladders, rooftops, trees, or cliffs.
Colucci R, Silver M, Shubrook J. Common types of supraventricular tachycardia: Diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(8):942-952.
Gutierrez C, Blanchard D. Atrial fibrillation: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2011;83(1):61-68.
Living with an arrhythmia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/livingwith. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed June 1, 2017.
Prevention & treatment of arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. Available at:
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Updated December 21, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2017.
Last reviewed June 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
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