Arrhythmias have many causes. Chronic conditions may gradually damage the heart's structure or electrical system over a period of years while a heart attack , may cause sudden, urgent rhythm disturbances. Prevention of arrhythmias is mostly a matter of keeping your heart healthy and preventing recurrent rhythm disturbances. Many risk factors can be managed or changed. The more risk factors you control, the more you reduce your risk.
There are a few measures that specifically influence your risk of arrhythmias.
Stress may raise your risk of arrhythmias if you have predisposing factors. Stress or anxiety can quickly increase your blood pressure and heart rate. Chronic stress can compound these problems. If you cannot eliminate stress from your life, you can take steps to manage it. You may want to try some of the following techniques:
Ask your doctor or pharmacist what effect your medications will have on your heart rhythm. If you are predisposed to arrhythmias, ask about substitutes for the medications that can precipitate an abnormal rhythm. Be particularly wary of:
Avoid illegal drugs, especially cocaine, methedrine, and other amphetamines. These drugs increase your heart rate, which can lead to heart damage and arrhythmias.
Maintaining a healthy heart will reduce your chance of developing arrhythmias. There are steps you can take to keep your heart healthy and strong:
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Cocaine, other drugs, and heart disease. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cocaine-Marijuana-and-Other-Drugs_UCM_428537_Article.jsp#.Vmcd7k2FMdU. Updated September 20, 2012. Accessed March 25, 2014.
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.
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Prevention strategies for atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF). American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/AboutArrhythmia/Prevention-Strategies-for-Atrial-Fibrillation-AFib-or-AF_UCM_423784_Article.jsp#.VmceZE2FMdU. Updated March 12, 2014. Accessed March 25, 2014.
Stress management. Help Guide website. Available at: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm. Updated February 2014. Accessed March 25, 2014.
12/9/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116873/Cardiovascular-disease-prevention-overview: 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.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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