Sick patient on hospital bed

How to Avoid Atrial Fibrillation After a Surgery

Being anxious about your upcoming surgery could stress you out and make your heart race. The actual procedure, though, could leave some individuals with heart flutters and rapid heart rate, also called post-op AFIB or atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation following a surgical operation ordinarily lasts for a couple of hours to several days. It’s crucial to note that once you have experienced AFIB, you have an increased risk of experiencing it again, and the case could become chronic later on.

How Surgery Can Trigger Atrial Fibrillation

Generally speaking, surgery could trigger AFIB due to the massive stress it puts on your body, meaning that virtually any type or stress could trigger AFIB. But certain kinds of surgical procedures, particularly heart surgeries like open-heart surgery, are more likely to trigger atrial fibrillation than others. Being obese, having COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and old age also raises your risk of experiencing AFIB following surgery.

Lowering the Risk of Post-Op Atrial Fibrillation

Since heart heath plays an immensely vital role in triggering post-op AFIB, the key is to ensure excellent health prior to surgery.

Put simply, you need to focus making your heart as strong as possible. So, whether you live at home or in a senior assisted living facility, you must work closely with your doctor, ensure that you eat a healthy diet, and strengthen your heart through heart-friendly exercises.

It’s likewise recommended that you ask your doctor regarding pain relief options after surgery, as studies have found that pain could cause a specific response that could trigger post-op AFIB. You should also ask for pre-operative blood exams because studies have found that iron deficiency or anemia, high blood sugar levels, and electrolyte imbalance could increase the risk of atrial fibrillation following surgery.

Addressing Post-Op AFIB

When recovering from surgery, you’ll be put on a heart monitor in order that you can be screened for post-op AFIB. While most individuals are able to feel when their heart races and flutters, others, usually due to exhaustion from the surgery, might not so they will need to be closely monitored. In most cases, post-op AFIB will go away without any treatment. Otherwise, you will have to take medications to regulate your heart rhythm and rate.

You may likewise be given blood-thinning medications for stroke prevention, which is a massive concern for individuals with AFIB. However, depending on the kind of surgical procedure you had, you may have to wait to take a blood thinner, usually several days or weeks to prevent severe blood loss. In addition, depending on the severity of your atrial fibrillation, your doctor may have to shock your heart back to its normal rhythm through cardioversion.

Awareness of Post-Op Atrial Fibrillation Leads to Risk Reduction

Female patient on hospital bed while the nurse checks on her

If you’re aware that you are susceptible to experiencing atrial fibrillation or have an underlying condition that could trigger it, and are about to undergo a surgical procedure, make sure to inform your doctor. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to tell your doctor immediately if you feel any AFIB warning signs following your surgery; do not wait for your next scheduled appointment.

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