Educating Family and Friends About Heart Rhythm Issues

Dealing with a heart rhythm issue isn’t a challenge you should face alone. It’s one that the people around you need to know about it as well. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart rhythm issue, you’ll probably need to have some conversations with family and friends. With some basic education, they’ll know how to help you manage the condition and when to seek medical attention.

Here are a few things to share with family and friends if you’ve been diagnosed with a heart rhythm issue.

Monitoring symptoms

There are many different symptoms of heart rhythm issues, including a racing or fluttering heartbeat, dizziness, fatigue, or fainting. Depending on your specific heart rhythm issue and how it’s being treated, you may have regular symptoms or rare symptoms. 

Talk to your friends and family about the types of symptoms you experience so they know what’s normal and what’s not. They can help you keep track of how your body handles extra exertion and how often you talk about experiencing certain symptoms. Sometimes it’s easier for an outside observer to notice changes in symptoms over time, so family and friends can play an essential role.

Weight and diet are important factors that your friends and family can help you keep track of as well. Sodium can increase water retention and worsen heart rhythm issues, and you may need their support to stick with a low-sodium diet. 

Increasing activity

Staying active is good for your heart, and your family and friends can help keep you active. If you’re concerned about strenuous activities, low and moderate intensity workouts are fine. Go for a family walk or meet at the gym for a gentle aerobics class. If you have any concerns about exercising with your arrhythmia, talk to your doctor first. 

CPR and emergency care

CPR is good for anyone to know, but it’s particularly important for family and friends of a person with heart rhythm issues. If your arrhythmia causes your heart to stop, CPR can save your life by keeping blood pumping to your body until emergency personnel arrive. Encourage your friends and family to take a CPR class or at least learn a little more about hands-only CPR from the American Heart Association.

If you experience an arrhythmia that causes your heart to stop beating or causes you to pass out, be sure your family knows to call 911 immediately. The more they know about your specific type of arrhythmia and any medications you take, the better they can help emergency responders care for you. 

Life support and advance care planning

People with heart rhythm issues should have a plan in place for their medical treatments in the event of severe or catastrophic illness. While many arrhythmias can be easily managed with medications or an implanted device, there’s still the chance of complications from the arrhythmia. Talk to your family and your healthcare provider to put the proper written plans in place, including an advance directive or living will. Having these documents in place can lessen stress on your family if you are hospitalized and unable to express your own wishes for medical treatment. 

Heart rhythm issues are manageable, but it helps to have support from family and friends. With proper planning and awareness, they can help you manage your disease and watch for any changes. If you have questions about a potential heart rhythm issue, contact Oklahoma Heart Hospital today to make an appointment with one of our specialists.