The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 6.1 million people in the United States suffer from atrial fibrillation, commonly known as A-Fib. A-Fib is a condition in which the heart beats irregularly. People who have A-Fib might describe an A-Fib episode as feeling like there is a fluttering in their chest, or like their heart is beating too fast. They may also feel dizzy, fatigued, or out of breath. A-Fib should be treated by a doctor. However, once your aging relative is under a doctor’s care, there are strategies they can use at home to stop an A-Fib episode or prevent one from happening.
Stopping an Episode
To stop an episode of A-Fib, have the older adult try one of these techniques:
-Slow Breathing: Slow, deep breathing may help an older adult’s body to relax enough so that the heart also relaxes and returns to a normal pattern. One hand should be placed on the abdomen while the senior sits quietly in a comfortable position. They then breathe in through the nose to a count of four, hold the breath for just a moment, and then exhale slowly through the mouth.
-Cold Water: Drinking a cold glass of water may “shock” the heart into stopping an episode.
-Vagal Maneuvers: Coughing or bearing down as though having a bowel movement can trigger a vagal response. The vagus nerve is one of the major nerves that help to control the way the heart functions.
-Preventing an Episode
There are several lifestyle changes that can help prevent future episodes of A-Fib by improving heart health. Some of those lifestyle changes are:
-Exercise: Increased physical activity or exercise improves heart health and helps with weight management.
-Healthy Diet: A heart-healthy diet that is low in salt and fat, but high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will help protect the heart.
-Control Blood Pressure and Cholesterol: Seniors should follow the doctor’s advice for treating high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
-Lose Weight: If the older adult is overweight, losing weight will reduce their risk of heart disease.
-Continue Care: Make sure your aging relative attends follow-up appointments with the doctor and reports any worsening of symptoms.
If your aging family member has A-Fib, an elderly care provider can help them when an episode occurs. An elderly care provider can walk them through slow breathing, bring a glass of cold water, or remind them to try vagal maneuvers. Elderly care providers can also help seniors to make healthy lifestyle changes. They can prepare heart-healthy meals and encourage exercise by going for walks with the senior or driving them to exercise classes. An elderly care provider can also remind the older adult to take prescribed medications and drive them to doctor appointments.
If you are considering elder care in Farmington Hills, MI, contact the caring staff at No Place Like Home Health, LLC today. Call (734) 259-4200.
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