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Atrial fibrillation and exercise ... Medications and memory.

I've recently been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, and my husband thinks it is unsafe for me to engage in exercise. Can you advise me?

Most people with the abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation (AF) actually benefit from exercise as long as their heart rate doesn't get too high. However, since you were only recently diagnosed, you may be in what's referred to as the "paroxysmal" stage of AE During this stage, it is possible for physical activity to provoke an episode of AF, so check with your cardiologist to clarify how much physical activity is safe for you, and what your heart rate should be while exercising. Also, ask the doctor what you should do if your heart rate increases too much while exercising.

As a rule, aim to exercise aerobically for about 30 minutes a day, Five days per week, starting slowly--five to 10 minutes of walking is ideal--and working your way up gradually to that goal. If exercise triggers pain or extreme breathlessness, stop and consult your doctor before exercising again.

AF is associated with a raised risk for stroke, so if you have been prescribed a blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or one of the newer blood thinners, to help prevent stroke, it is important to avoid any accidents that could potentially cause bleeding while you exercise. Take protective measures for anything that could be risky--for example, always wear a helmet when cycling.

I'm considering contacting a professional agency to hire an in-home caregiver for my sister, who has dementia. Do you have any tips for finding the right person?

Finding the right in-home caregiver can be challenging, but there are precautions you can take to ensure you find a reliable, trustworthy caregiver who meets your sister's needs.

First, ask how the agency recruits its caregivers, and what types of screenings are carried out before they are hired. As a rule, they should have undergone a criminal background check and drug screening; also ask about health-related training and CPR certification. Other questions should clarify how the agency supervises the caregiver and evaluates the quality of the care they provide. Also check the agency's policy on providing a substitute caregiver if a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services for any reason.

When interviewing a prospective caregiver, ask about their work with previous patients. Given your sister's health issues, ensure the caregiver has experience with dementia patients--for example, ask how they would handle a situation in which your sister refused to bathe or eat, or to follow their instructions. Also ask what they would do in specific situations involving safety. And, finally, follow up by contacting references.


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Title Annotation:Etingin, Dr. Ask
Publication:Women's Health Advisor
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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