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Title: Atrial Fibrillation - Support from a Daughter Who Cares
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Goal: this task will increase the chances of the goal to control symptoms of a your medical condition.
Behavior Rx published this Operative Task at under Lifestyle | Disease and Education | Health-Related Knowledge and Skills
Doers: 2 | Form: Operative Task | Phase: Execution | Type: Event | Level: 1 | Code:
Start: Jun 16, 2019 | When: | Duration: 20 Minute(s)
  • Your doctor told you that you have atrial fibrillation.

    Take a nice deep breath. Exhale slowly. Now let's get a clearer picture about what's going on.

    What does "AFib" mean exactly?

    The Mayo Clinic describes it this way:

    Atrial fibrillation (or A Fib) is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

    During a fib, the heart's two upper chambers (the atria) beat chaotically and irregularly — out of coordination with the two lower chambers (the ventricles) of the heart. Symptoms often include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness.

    Episodes of a fib can come and go, or you may develop a fib that doesn't go away and may require treatment. Although a fib itself usually isn't life-threatening, it is a serious medical condition that sometimes requires emergency treatment.

    It may lead to complications. It can lead to blood clots forming in the heart that may circulate to other organs and lead to blocked blood flow (ischemia).

    Treatments may include medications and other interventions to try to alter the heart's electrical system.

    Is this clear to you?
  • Are you interested in proceeding?
  • Before you can regain your sense of confidence about your health, much less return to having fun, you probably need a little more info.

    The Mayo Clinic reports that abnormalities or damage to the heart's structure are the most common cause of atrial fibrillation. Possible causes of a fib include:

    *High blood pressure
    *Heart attacks
    *Coronary artery disease
    *Abnormal heart valves
    *Heart defects you're born with (congenital)
    *An overactive thyroid gland or other metabolic imbalance
    *Exposure to stimulants, such as medications, caffeine, tobacco or alcohol
    *Sick sinus syndrome — improper functioning of the heart's natural pacemaker
    *Lung diseases
    *Previous heart surgery
    *Viral infections
    *Stress due to pneumonia, surgery or other illnesses
    *Sleep apnea

    Which of these does your doctor suspect may be the likely culprit?

    ** Try with EVERYTHING YOU'VE GOT NOT to turn to your wife and say, "You're the one with a lot of these risk factors. Not me!"
  • Let's take a close look at the risks that leave you exposed.

    The Mayo Clinic describes risk factors as follow:

    *Age. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
    *Heart disease. Heart valve problems, congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, or a history of heart attack or heart surgery all increase the risk of a fib.
    *High blood pressure. Having high blood pressure, especially if it's not well-controlled with lifestyle changes or medications, can increase your risk of a fib.
    *Other chronic conditions. Thyroid problems, sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or lung disease are among these chronic conditions.
    *Drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol can trigger an episode of a fib. Binge drinking may put you at an even higher risk. Heavy drinking is another possible causative agent.
    *Obesity. People who are obese are at higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
    *Family history. An increased risk of a fib is present in some families. (This is not good news for your daughter who is writing this down for you!)

    Which of these do you think apply to your situation?
  • Go to the demo tab above and watch videos that offer insight into a fib.

    Tell us what you thought when you've finished watching them.
  • The Mayo Clinic recommends that a healthy lifestyle include:

    *Eating a heart-healthy diet
    *Increasing your physical activity
    *Avoiding smoking
    *Maintaining a healthy weight
    *Limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol (mmm...about those Pepsi's)
    *Reducing stress, as intense stress and anger can cause heart rhythm problems
    *Using over-the-counter medications with caution, as some cold and cough medications contain stimulants that may trigger a rapid heartbeat

    What are you doing now that would fit into "heart healthy", and what will you commit to improving?
  • Medicine is a vital part of your regimen.

    Were you prescribed medication?

    If so, what was it?

    How often are you supposed to take it and at what dose?
  • List any side effects you experience from taking the medication.
  • If you're still having a fib episodes after taking your meds, your doctor may prescribe further intervention.

    This could include:
    *Catheter ablation
    *Surgical maze procedure

    Will you be honest and tell your doctor if you're still having irregular heartbeats and then schedule the procedure if he or she recommends it be done?
  • Let's stay with doctor's orders for a second. Do you follow doctor's orders regarding your medication(s), diet and any other lifestyle recommendations?

    If not, why not?

    If the answer is no, please call the doctor's office now to ask for time to discuss your drug regimen and what is working or not working or is simply too confusing. Side effects may also be an issue. Be sure to discuss them, too.

    If the doctor is not available in the next few days, please see your pharmacist for a free consultation.

    Will you take these recommendations to see your doctor and/or pharmacist?
  • Now let's talk about another part of the plan. Along with the right medication at the right dosage, diet is an important component to your health.

    You already knew that, huh?

    Food. We love it. We love to eat it and we love to celebrate with it and we love to pacify our stress with it.

    But some foods are just not our friends. They sabotage us, which is why we now have to take food choices very seriously. Ugh!

    So...what changes did your nutritionist recommend?
    Star those suggestions that you will commit to follow.
  • Alcohol is a sneaky one. It tastes so good! A glass of wine could make that new diet so much better!

    But....alcohol is not always our friend. It could be the enemy.

    Alcohol amounts are important. Too much can cause that ticker of yours to pound like a 5 year old with a new drum set.

    The NIH defines heavy drinking as:

    Men: More than 4 drinks on any day or 14 per week
    Women: More than 3 drinks on any day or 7 per week

    How many glasses of wine do you typically drink on a daily basis?

    How full is the glass? Is it more than a proper pour of 5 oz.?

    ** If you don't want that 5 year old playing drums in your chest, then you must understand that you can't get away with having 1 glass of water for each glass of wine if you drink more than the 1 to 2 glasses recommended by your cardiologist.
  • However, water is important in and of itself.

    Try this:

    Drink 2 8oz glasses of water before noon each day.

    Drink a total of 64 oz of water throughout the day.

    Will you commit to this?
  • Exercise. It's important to your overall health. Too little contributes to the risk factors we touched on earlier. Too much is a risk factor, too. In other words, move your heinie but no need to twerk it!

    Write two or three types of strenuous, physical activity that you would enjoy doing at least four times a week for 30 minutes each time.

    Too much can be described as washing and waxing the car, cleaning out the gutters, chasing off those pesky squirrels, vacuuming to keep the wife happy, refereeing soccer, AND going on a 50-mile bike ride - IN THE SAME DAY!!!!

    Pick no more than two and never put the high-impact activities together in a 24-hour period.
  • Will you add a new activity to your week in order to give yourself something to look forward to?

    Ideas include:
    * Hospital, hospice or long-term care visitation
    * Babysitting for a single mom or dad in your neighborhood
    * Mentor a youth in your area
    * Take time to talk to a young person each afternoon or evening whose parents are divorced or widowed
    * Hold babies in the NICU to give a nurse a break
    * Organize a bridge game at a senior center
    * Go to the park and chat with someone who needs a friendly conversation and a warm smile
    * Help out at a small business if you have the time
    * Check into local nonprofits to see if they could use your expertise

    Do any of these resonate? If so, list the ones you like in the space provided.

    If not, think about what you could do that would genuinely excite you. You may do so in the space provided.
  • Now...will you ask your spouse or call a friend and ask them to hold you accountable for the changes in meds, diet, exercise and activity that you decided upon?

    Agree to check in with your spouse or friend each week and report honestly on your results.

    Will you do this?
  • How helpful were these suggestions?

    If you said fair or poor, please make sure you post to the publisher's journal at the bottom of the page, so changes can be made.

    Let us know what is different about you that would help us make the right suggestions in the future.

    Feel welcome to schedule this guidance as often as you like to make these changes a way of life.

    Thanks! And all the best to you in this new adventure!
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