Newswise — September marks National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, a time for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) to provide research-backed information about the potentially life-threatening arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. It is the most common arrhythmia with an estimated U.S. prevalence of 5.2 million people.
A new educational resource by ACSM is designed to help the public better understand what Afib is, as well as some of the common symptoms, risk factors, associated health problems and potential treatments.
Exercise is Medicine®, ACSM’s global health initiative to make physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in clinical care, offers a complementary resource, Being Active when You Have Atrial Fibrillation. The digital resource is designed to help educate individuals with Afib on the positive benefits of medium-intensity physical activity. Research shows that people with Afib who are more active typically experience fewer symptoms and associated health complications. Being active also reduces risk factors that lead to heart attack, stroke or other serious heart rhythm problems.
The Exercise is Medicine resource identifies these four steps to start being active with Afib:
- Keep it simple. Sit less and move more. Find opportunities to move throughout your day.
- Talk with your doctor. Check with your health care provider about your medical conditions and whether any medications will affect physical activity.
- Be active with a friend. Those who exercise with a friend tend to stick with it longer than those who go it alone.
- Take more steps. Build up to 7,000-9,000 steps/day.
Specific guidelines on aerobic activity and strength training for individuals with Afib is also included. The Afib resource is part of the Exercise is Medicine Rx for Health Series, which provides essential guidelines on exercise for sedentary individuals and those with various chronic diseases and medical conditions. The handouts are designed to be used by health care providers and exercise professionals to support their physical activity recommendations for patients and clients. The ultimate goal is to help patients and clients achieve the numerous health benefits associated with an active lifestyle.
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