I attended an American Idol concert and I got so excited to see my favorite, Adam Lambert, that I developed cardiac arrhythmias. I went to the ER, the doctor called it “A-fib” and I was sent home with medications. What do you suggest so that this scary thing doesn’t happen again?”
–J.S. Ocala, Florida
Answer: As an Idol fanatic, I can totally relate, but I think the heart problems began long before the concert. A-fib stands for atrial fibrillation. Most people describe it as a skipped heartbeat, followed by a thud or racing of the heart. Some people call it butterflies and it could leave you feeling weak, dizzy and light-headed. Because afib can reduce the flow of oxygen to the heart, it could cause a heart attack or even stroke. That said, many people walk around for years dealing with minor occasional afib episodes. Over 7 million people in the USA and Europe experience atrial fibrillation currently; that number is expected to double within the next 40 years. Two amino acids that have been proven to be important for heart-rhythm health include taurine and arginine. As you age, the levels decline. The medical literature reflects that deficiencies or taurine and arginine are suspected in cases of cardiac arrhythmias in otherwise healthy people. Ask your cardiologist if these dietary supplements are right for you. Others to consider (especially before combining them with your medications) include coenzyme q10, hawthorne and L-carnitine.
Many doctors overlook the drug mugger effect, the subject of my second book. You see, hundreds of medications “mug” your body of life-sustaining nutrients. For example, diuretics and blood pressure pills can deplete your warehouse of magnesium, a heart-healthy mineral. Magnesium deficiency can cause afib.
Some medications can help you, especially those that slow heart rate like atenolol, metoprolol, verapamil, digoxin and diltiazem. These meds block some of the errant signals which cause afib and other cardiac arrhythmias. There are prescription medications that seek to normalize heart rhythm too. Popular ones include quinidine, propafenone, and flecainide. These have a temporary effect and numerous side effects, however, they work well for certain people.
Keeping the blood flowing is important so doctors often use blood thinners such as aspirin, Plavix or warfarin (Coumadin). Natural supplements have some blood-thinning abilities- a few good ones include nattokinase, ginkgo biloba, fish oils and aged garlic.
What else can you do? Exercise! Your heart is a muscle, so don’t let it sit around and get lazy on you. Exercising causes more blood flow and oxygen to flow to your heart. Ask your doctor what level of exercise is right with your condition.
Learn as much as you can. Visit the website. This organization provides people with valuable information and resources about living with afib.
And last, but most importantly, eat more natural raw foods because they feed your body enzymes, vitamins and minerals which drive important metabolic reactions in your body, including your heartbeat.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.