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Can High Blood Pressure Cause Atrial Fibrillation?

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If you have AFib, you are probably used to having your blood pressure checked. But do you really know what the numbers mean? You’ve likely heard your health care provider tell you that your blood pressure is “one fifteen over seventy-nine,” or some similar ratio. But what exactly does that measure?

And while we are at it, how does having AFib impact that number? Understanding blood pressure is essential for the health of your heart, so here are the basics that you should know. 

What does blood pressure measure?

The average heart beats about 86,400 times each day, circulating over 2,000 gallons of blood around the body. Your amazing heart is a muscular pump, and each time it beats, it pushes oxygen-rich blood through your blood vessels to the rest of your body. Blood pressure measures the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. 

Understanding blood pressure numbers 

The force of blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. It is represented by two numbers, one over the other, like a fraction. The top number, systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart squeezes or contracts. The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure, and it measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart relaxes between beats. 

What is healthy blood pressure?

Blood pressure fluctuates slightly throughout the day, but a healthy blood pressure falls below 120/80 and above 90/60 mmHg. Blood pressures above 120/80 may indicate that your heart is working harder than it should be to circulate your blood. The medical term for this is hypertension, which literally means too much stretching. 

Blood pressures that fall below 90/60, called hypotension, may mean that your heart is not circulating enough oxygen to the rest of your body.  

Patients with atrial fibrillation need to be hyper-vigilant about their blood pressure, ensuring it stays within normal limits. According to a recent study, a good blood pressure goal for AFib patients is between 120 to 129 mmHg systolic and less than 80 mmHg diastolic. Keeping blood pressure within this range lowers the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular events. 

The relationship between hypertension and AFib

Atrial fibrillation occurs when the heart’s two upper chambers, the atria, beat erratically and out of sync with the lower chambers, the ventricles. As a result, the heart tends to have a very irregular, fast rate. Atrial fibrillation and high blood pressure often go hand-in-hand. It’s estimated that approximately 60-80 percent of people with AFib also have hypertension. 

There are several risk factors for AFib, with high blood pressure being at the top of the list. Over time, high blood pressure can cause structural changes to the heart, damaging the electrical system. Studies have shown that high blood pressure can double the risk of developing AFib. In addition, a 2021 study considered genetics and concluded that high blood pressure is a leading cause of AFib.

How does AFib affect blood pressure?

The ultimate goal of the cardiovascular system is to ensure that oxygenated blood is delivered throughout the body. Blood pressure and heart rate dance an intricate tango to ensure that this happens. For example, if blood pressure drops due to dehydration in a healthy person, the heart rate will speed up to ensure that blood is pumped more quickly through the body. 

Understanding whether a person’s blood pressure is high or low in AFib depends on the situation. In the early stages of AFib, blood pressures are often normal or slightly elevated when a person is not having an active episode. 

However, when the heart is beating quickly for an extended time, blood pressure can no longer compensate. Therefore, when a person is having an AFib episode, blood pressure tends to drop. The erratic and rapid beating of the heart reduces the heart’s pumping efficiency, leading to low blood pressure. When blood pressure decreases as a result of AFib, a person is said to be unstable. 

People often wonder what a dangerous heart rate with AFib is. Since everyone is different, it’s more important to focus on symptoms rather than a number. While some can live comfortably with a heart rate in the 140s, others feel extremely unwell. Individuals who experience dizziness, shortness of breath, or chest pain should immediately seek medical care. 

Blood pressure fluctuates with AFib, making it challenging to measure accurately. In addition, rapid heart rates associated with AFib make electronic blood pressure devices unreliable for AFib patients. Research suggests that AFib patients should have their blood pressure taken with a manual cuff. 

Hypertension and AFib: Partners in crime

A diagnosis of either high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation is devastating enough, but put both of them together, and you’ve got yourself a real crisis. There is good news, however! Many of the lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce the risk of one automatically lower the risk of the other. 

Next steps

Eating a nutrient-rich, organic diet, reducing stress, eliminating toxins from your environment, and spending more time outside all lower AFib and hypertension risks and help you live your healthiest life. For more information, visit our hypertension and AFib pages and consider our AFib supplement protocol for essential micronutrients to support normal heart rhythm.

Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well 

Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD


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He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

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About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

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Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

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Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

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We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

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Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.