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Atrial Fibrillation and Daily Life

Atrial Fibrillation and Daily Life

Topic Overview

Most people with atrial fibrillation don't have to change their daily activities. You can live well and safely with atrial fibrillation.

There are some precautions you can take to prevent problems from atrial fibrillation. For example, tell your doctor about any activities that trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation. And talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise program or change your workouts.

The table below describes some of the ways your life may be affected by your arrhythmia. It also offers tips on preventing problems.

Impact of atrial fibrillation on your daily life

Aspect of life

Potential impact of atrial fibrillation

Tips for success

Stress

Stressful situations can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation or make your atrial fibrillation worse.

Try to lower the amount of stress at work or with family.

Try meditation and other relaxation techniques when stress is unavoidable.

Work

Most people with atrial fibrillation can continue working.

Avoid strenuous activity and extremely stressful situations at work.

Sexual activity

Most people with atrial fibrillation can lead normal sex lives as long as they can exercise and be active without having symptoms.

Let your doctor know if you experience symptoms of atrial fibrillation during sex.

Exercise

Intense exercise may trigger your arrhythmia or make your symptoms worse.

Call your doctor to report any symptoms. And avoid strenuous exercise if it causes symptoms.

Driving

You can drive unless your doctor advises against it.

Pull over and call your doctor if you start to feel symptoms or become lightheaded while operating a motor vehicle or other machinery.

Travel

Before each trip, talk with your doctor about your travel plans. He or she may be able to refer you to a doctor in the area that you will be visiting.

Bring the name and phone number of your doctor, in case your arrhythmia comes back and you need medical attention. Also, make sure to bring extra medicine.

For more information, see the topic:

Arrhythmias and Sexual Activity.
Fitness.
Stress Management.
Travel Health.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Levine GN, et al. (2012). Sexual activity and cardiovascular disease: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 125(8): 1058–1072.
  • Shea JB, Sears SF (2008). A patient's guide to living with atrial fibrillation. Circulation, 117(20): e340–e343.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Last Revised December 14, 2012

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