1. Take medical advice and guidance seriously. Your doctor’s orders aren’t simply suggestions, they’re strict guidelines to keep you alive and well. Your treatment plan probably involves medication to control the disorders – perhaps blood thinners for AFib, and a different drug to target hypertension – and that’s an important line of defense.
Medication isn’t something to stop taking when the symptoms go away, and the specific amount and combination of medication isn’t arbitrary: your doctor chose this treatment plan carefully, and you need to trust in their expertise and stick to the plan.
2. Commit to a better lifestyle. AFib and high blood pressure can hit healthy people, but in many cases, there’s a lifestyle element that’s making the problem worse. Examine your diet and activity level honestly and take steps to improve it. Cutting down on salt and alcohol (less than one drink per day for women and less than two drinks per day for men) is easier than you might think, and once you start exercising regularly, it stops feeling like a chore. Weight loss may reduce blood pressure and episodes of AFib.
3. Watch for signs of trouble. Drug interactions aren’t uncommon, and they can be very dangerous. If you’re noticing worrying side effects from your prescribed medications, don’t hesitate to report them to your doctor. But vitamins and over-the-counter medications can also cause trouble, even though they seem harmless.
In some cases, a supplement could make your other medication less effective, or even react negatively. For instance, warfarin (commonly prescribed for AFib) can lose effectiveness if you take in too much vitamin K, and blood pressure can rise with NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen (over-the-counter pain medication).
4. Relax regularly. Stress is very often to blame for AFib episodes, and it’s a known factor behind high blood pressure. It can also cause a host of other mental and physical problems, so the less stress you carry around with you, the better it is for your body. Daily stress relief can have a significant impact on how you experience and control your cardiovascular disorders.
Progressive muscle relaxation and yoga are great ways to introduce stress relief into your daily routine, but there are also other kinds of therapy – from coloring books to mindfulness meditation – that can help you stay relaxed day in and day out. Exercise is often hailed as the best way to decrease stress, so find a workout you enjoy and do it as often as you can.
AFib ablation may be an option
If you can get rid of your AFib, your hypertension may be easier to treat. In turn, your doctor may suggest an invasive procedure, such as a catheter ablation to eliminate the AFib.
Likewise, reducing your blood pressure can help you better control your AFib, and that generally comes down to good self-care and the right course of medication. In any case, your doctor is an important ally: talk openly about your concerns, your options, and your treatments on a regular basis.