Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Preventing Atrial Fibrilation

Friday, 16 December 2011 10:10 AM

Question: I recently developed atrial fibrilation. I have the episodes only once a month, but they persist for about 24 hours. My heart rate is normally at 55 to 60 beats per minute when relaxed, but it increases to an irregular rate of 90 to 100 beats when I have an episode.
My doctor has me on the anti-coagulant Pradax or dabigatron. I am 78 years old but in very good health, and I exercise regularly. I have faith in my doctor, but am frustrated by the AF because I don't know what to do to mitigate or prevent recurrences. I have read about drugs and surgical procedures from the folks at John Hopkins. Are there other natural, less-invasive approaches through diet supplements and exercise?
Dr. Hibberd's Answer:
You sound like you are doing fine. Please do continue with Pradaxa because it lowers the risk of stroke and blood clots in people who have atrial fibrillation which is an irregular heartbeat that can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Monitor your pulse regularly. By maintaining a normal blood pressure and regular exercise, you can prevent recurrence of atrial fibrillation. In addition, eat a healthy diet (less salt and more fat-free foods), and reduce or eliminate caffeinated and alcoholic beverages from your diet.

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