Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia where the heart beats in an ‘irregularly irregular’ pattern. AF affects around 2 in every 100 Australians and is prevalent in the ageing population particularly in people over the age of 75 with approximately 10% of the community affected.
In AF, there is a mismatch in rhythm between the atria (upper chambers of the heart) and the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) which may disrupt blood flow through the heart. This increases the risk of clots forming in the blood, which can have serious consequences such as myocardial infarction (MI) (heart attacks) and cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) (strokes).
Risk factors of AF include cardiovascular risk factors such as:
Symptoms of AF vary between individuals with some people experiencing no symptoms and others experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, heart palpitations and irregular pulse.
Treatment for AF varies and can include rate-controlling therapy to slow down pulse, electrical cardioversion to reset the heart’s rhythm, medications to restore normal heart rhythm or medications to prevent stroke from blood clot formation.
 Better Health Channel. Heart conditions – atrial fibrillation. betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/heart-conditions-atrial-fibrillation
 Stroke Foundation Australia. Atrial fibrillation. strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Prevent-Stroke/Atrial%20fibrillation
 Brieger et al (2019, November). Atrial fibrillation management – The central role of the GP. Medicine Today Vol 20 (11) 10-16
 Health Direct (2019, February). Atrial fibrillation. healthdirect.gov.au/atrial-fibrillation
 Safer Care Victoria (2019, July 19). Atrial fibrillation. bettersafercare.vic.gov.au/resources/tools/atrial-fibrillation
Atrial Flutter is a condition in which atria which are the hearts’ upper chambers beat too quickly causing irregular rhythms. The disease causes difficulty for the heart to pump out blood, which lead to formation of blood clots. When these clots are pumped out from the heart they could go to the brain, resulting in a stroke or heart attack. Some of the most common symptoms include shortness of breath, light-headedness, heart palpitations and discomfort in the chest area.
Often compared to Atrial Fibrillation, the most common condition which involves irregularly irregular beating of the heart, the patterns seen in AF are typically much more organized. However, this can lead those who suffer from the condition to go without noticing the symptoms which can be dangerous causing heart failure, stroke and other complications. It is a serious disorder in which when left untreated can in worst cases lead to death. When the ventricles beat too fast for an extended period of time, the heart muscle is fatigued and become weak which also causes a condition called cardiomyopathy that typically result in other serious complications.
It is known that some medical conditions increase the risk of Atrial Flutter. For instance, diabetes, previous heart attack, high blood pressure, chronic lung disease among other acute illnesses.
The heart is a muscle that is made up of four chambers (two atria and two ventricles) and is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body’s circulatory system. The atria chambers are responsible for receiving blood from the body and the ventricles work to pump blood to the body.
The heart is separated into the right side and the left side. The right side receives deoxygenated blood from the veins and pumps it to the lungs where oxygen is picked up. The left side of the heart receives this oxygen rich blood from the lungs and then pumps it through the arteries to the rest of the body.
The pumping of the heart occurs by its muscles contracting , squeezing and relaxing the heart muscles known as myocardium.
In some instances, myocardium is weakened and prevents the heart from pumping as well as it usually does. The medical name for this is heart failure, also known as congestive cardiac failure (CCF). As the muscles have become too weak to pump blood around the body symptoms of CCF include:
Many of these symptoms are as a result of the ‘backlog’ of blood, and hence fluid entering various areas of the body.
There are a multitude of conditions which increase the risk of CCF such as:
Along with prescription medications such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors (aimed to open up narrow blood vessels) and drugs to reduce blood pressure (beta-blockers), lifestyle changes such as reducing sodium in the diet, managing stress and exercise should be made to help improve quality of life
 University of Michigan (2019, December) How the Heart Works uofmhealth.org/health-library/tx4097abc
 Health Direct (2018, July) Heart failure healthdirect.gov.au/heart-failure
 Better Health Channel (2018, July) Congestive heart failure (CHF) betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/congestive-heart-failure-chf
 Macon and Cherney (2018, August) Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) healthline.com/health/congestive-heart-failure#types
Hypertension (commonly known as 'Blood Pressure') is a significant contributing risk factor to myocardial infarction (heart attack) and cerebrovascular accidents (strokes).
A contributing factor to hypertension is obesity. Hence one's diet should be easily digestible with adequate protein and any tendency to be overweight must be checked and managed. Highly seasoned foods and large meals before bedtime should be avoided.
Avoid the following:
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is essential for many metabolic processes in the body. Although abundantly found in animal fats and processed foods, our liver makes a sufficient amount of cholesterol. This is important as cholesterol is essential for hormone production, regulation of a healthy metabolism and aids in digestion of fats and absorption of nutrients. Once produced, cholesterol travels through the bloodstream by carriers known as lipoproteins.
There are two kinds of lipoproteins
1. Low-density lipoproteins that carry bad cholesterol and
2. High-density lipoproteins that carry good cholesterol
In some instances due to a high saturated fat diet (non-familial) or genetics (familial), there can be too much bad cholesterol in the blood. This is referred to as hypercholesterolaemia. When this occurs, it can lead to heart disease or a stroke as fatty deposits develop in the arteries and cause the vessels to narrow and in some cases become blocked.
Although there are medicines to lower blood cholesterol levels, it is highly recommended to engage in lifestyle changes, particularly diet modification. Professor Yoland Lim has always advised a good healthy balanced diet as per the 5 element diet, incorporating 5 different colours of food on your plate. This includes reducing the intake of processed foods including sausages, hams, chips and deep-fried food, increasing the intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and include foods that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats. Furthermore, engaging in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day has been shown to decrease low-density lipoprotein levels and increase high-density lipoprotein level.
 Better Health Channel (2014, February) Cholesterol. betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cholesterol
 National Heart Foundation of Australia. Blood cholesterol. heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/blood-cholesterol
 American Heart Foundation. Cholesterol. heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol
 Mann, S (2014, February) Differential effects of aerobic exercise, resistance training and combined exercise modalities on cholesterol and the lipid profile: review, synthesis and recommendations. Sports Medicine Vol 44 (2) 211-22. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0110-5
In our western society, we eat too much salt. You go to a restaurant and there is salt on the table. On top of that, cooks often put more salt than our dietary requirements need. Observing cooking shows, chefs are often adding extra salt into their foods.
"Because it tastes good" is their reply. However, what are the implications of increased salt intake? It adds to hypertension and can put extra strain on kidneys. If your kidneys are not functioning optimally, then it can lead to your entire body potentially shutting down.
Sometimes we can't avoid the salt chefs add to our food when eating out, but at home we can be our own master of our health and make the choice of not adding extra salt to our food. There are so many other ways we can add taste to our food with herbs and spices.
Make the choice!
Professor Yoland Lim Health Care's Recipes for Health and Longevity
Ischaemic heart disease is a condition in which deficiency in blood and oxygen in the heart causes various problems caused by the narrowing of the arteries. Commonly known as coronary heart disease (CHD), it is caused by blood flow restriction that ultimately may lead to heart attack.
Some of the most common symptoms include chest pain and discomfort known as angina pectoris. There are also cases of ischaemic heart disease that is experienced without any pain called silent ischemia which can lead to heart attack without any prior warning.
There is increased risk of ischaemic heart disease with certain conditions such as
Treatment is given to reduce risk factors associated with this disease. Eg. symptomatic management of ischemia and identifying cardiac risk factors and intervention include application of pharmacological and non-pharmacological medications.