Chronic Condition Management, Employers & Brokers, Health Outcomes, Health Plans, Health Systems, Medicare Advantage, Partners, Researchers, Workforce Health | By | 02/19/20

Can Exercise Help AFIB?

February is officially American Heart Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness of cardiovascular disease. While heart disease is the nation’s leading cause of death, approximately 80 percent of premature heart disease and strokes are preventable, according to the CDC

You read that correctly: 80 percent! The CDC says that the majority of deadly outcomes from cardiovascular disease and stroke may have been prevented with lifestyle changes or relatively inexpensive and widely available medications.

So your goal during American Heart Month is to educate your employees on the different types of heart disease and motivate them to adopt healthy lifestyles that may help with prevention and management.

One common heart ailment is atrial fibrillation, also called AFib or AF. This is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. The American Heart Association estimates that at least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.

Here are three important things to know about AFib:

Exercising is Key to Living with AFib

AFib shouldn’t stop your employees from pursuing an active lifestyle. In fact, exercise and activity is good for managing AFib, according to the American College of Cardiology. Exercise may reduce the frequency and severity of AFIB episodes, lower a person’s blood pressure, and slow down the heart rate.

That said, not all exercises are beneficial for AFib. Anyone with AFib needs to carefully consider different exercises programs before getting started, and of course they should talk to their doctor about finding the right level of activity.

Choosing the Best Exercises for AFib

According to the American Heart Association, AFib can be classified into five types: persistent, paroxysmal fibrillation, long-standing, permanent, and nonvalvular. The symptoms are generally the same, but the duration of the irregular heartbeat and underlying reasons help medical practitioners classify and diagnose each type of AFib. Knowing which type a person has is key to choosing the best exercise regimen for the AFib condition.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend that a person with AFib should start with light to moderate exercise, such as walking, yoga, pilates, or bodyweight exercises. Even 10 minutes of exercise three times each day offers health benefits. 

Another good idea is to avoid risk-prone exercises, such as rock climbing or skiing, since blood thinners (medication commonly prescribed for AFib) make a person bleed more heavily.

Beware of Over Exercising

This is an important consideration for anyone with AFib: don’t overdo it. While exercising, make sure to check your heart rate at the beginning and throughout the workout. Set realistic goals, and be sure to stay hydrated. Watch for signs of exertion, such as dizziness, excessive sweating, or chest pain.

Don’t miss a beat. Learn more about heart health awareness and encourage your employees to be heart healthy together with our heart health tip sheets.

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Featured Quickguide

Tip Sheet: Boost Heart Health With Physical Activity

Now is the perfect time for you and your employees to take better care of your tickers. With our tip sheet, they’ll get the heart-healthy advice they need, and you’ll get to shine as the wellness rock star that you are.

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