Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common heart rhythm disorder. Often noted by patients as a fluttering sensation in the chest, AFib can be occasional or chronic. Millions of Americans live with AFib, and many are unaware of their condition. 

Symptoms of AFib range from fluttering or skipped heart beats to fatigue and weakness. Many patients have no symptoms at all and their condition is diagnosed through routine examinations and screenings. 

Whether someone is experiencing symptoms or not, AFib is a health risk. When the heart does not beat in sync, blood can pool in the heart and raise the risk for blood clots. Dislodged blood clots can lead to stroke or heart attack. 

Risk factors for atrial fibrillation

It is important both to be aware of the risk factors for AFib and to consider ways to reduce your risk where possible. There are many risk factors associated with AFib, including:

  • Age
  • Prior heart disease
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Thyroid problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Lung disease

Reducing risk for atrial fibrillation

While some risk factors are outside of our control — including aging, heart disease, and family history — managing the ones you can brings down overall risk for the disorder. The good news is that the two keys for mitigating risk are things that promote overall health. 

First, seek to live a healthier lifestyle. Second, follow your doctor’s advice to manage any health conditions you may have. 

A good first step for a healthier lifestyle is to begin eating better by adding fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains to your meals. Start small by adding a single fruit and veggie per day and build from there. Being sure to meet the recommended daily exercise goals goes hand in hand with eating healthy. Doing these two things can help combat many of the risk factors for AFib, including obesity and high blood pressure. It can also help in managing other diseases like sleep apnea and diabetes.

Likewise, managing the effects of other health conditions can help prevent or reduce symptoms of AFib in some people. This includes taking all prescribed medication regularly and following any dietary and exercise guidelines provided by your team of health professionals. 

If you have recently been diagnosed with AFib or have questions or concerns about your risk factors, reach out to schedule an appointment with our team of specialists.