I’ve been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Should I make changes to my diet?

Answer From Rekha Mankad, M.D.

Making healthy diet changes can help improve overall heart health. If you have atrial fibrillation (A-fib), a common heart rhythm disorder, you may need to avoid some foods or drinks, too.

Aim to eat a heart-healthy diet, including:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • Proteins such as lean meats, nuts, seeds and beans
  • Foods low in salt, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat

If you have A-fib, it’s also important to know which foods and drinks to avoid. For example, your care provider may recommend that you limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol can cause health issues in some people.

People with atrial fibrillation often take blood thinners to prevent blood clots. If you’re taking a blood thinner called warfarin (Jantoven), your provider may tell you to limit leafy green vegetables. Such vegetables contain vitamin K. High levels of vitamin K can change the way warfarin works in the body. Talk to your health care providers about your specific diet and what’s best for you.

Healthy lifestyle changes are an important part of treatment for atrial fibrillation. In addition to eating a healthy diet, your care provider will likely recommend:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Controlling cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels
  • Managing stress

 

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