Doctors & patients are saying about 'A-Fib.com'...


"A-Fib.com is a great web site for patients, that is unequaled by anything else out there."

Dr. Douglas L. Packer, MD, FHRS, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

"Jill and I put you and your work in our prayers every night. What you do to help people through this [A-Fib] process is really incredible."

Jill and Steve Douglas, East Troy, WI 

“I really appreciate all the information on your website as it allows me to be a better informed patient and to know what questions to ask my EP. 

Faye Spencer, Boise, ID, April 2017

“I think your site has helped a lot of patients.”

Dr. Hugh G. Calkins, MD  Johns Hopkins,
Baltimore, MD


Doctors & patients are saying about 'Beat Your A-Fib'...


"If I had [your book] 10 years ago, it would have saved me 8 years of hell.”

Roy Salmon, Patient, A-Fib Free,
Adelaide, Australia

"This book is incredibly complete and easy-to-understand for anybody. I certainly recommend it for patients who want to know more about atrial fibrillation than what they will learn from doctors...."

Pierre Jaïs, M.D. Professor of Cardiology, Haut-Lévêque Hospital, Bordeaux, France

"Dear Steve, I saw a patient this morning with your book [in hand] and highlights throughout. She loves it and finds it very useful to help her in dealing with atrial fibrillation."

Dr. Wilber Su,
Cavanaugh Heart Center, 
Phoenix, AZ

"...masterful. You managed to combine an encyclopedic compilation of information with the simplicity of presentation that enhances the delivery of the information to the reader. This is not an easy thing to do, but you have been very, very successful at it."

Ira David Levin, heart patient, 
Rome, Italy

"Within the pages of Beat Your A-Fib, Dr. Steve Ryan, PhD, provides a comprehensive guide for persons seeking to find a cure for their Atrial Fibrillation."

Walter Kerwin, MD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA


Heart Health

Apple Watch 4: Do ECG Readings Give A-Fib Patients a False Sense of Security?

We received a couple of emails about the new Apple Watch 4. As many A-Fib patients may be aware, recently Apple unveiled the next generation of Apple Watch which includes a second generation optical heart sensor.

Among several interesting features, it can generate an ECG tracing similar to that of a single-lead electrocardiograph.

In her Sept. 14, 2018 editorial on Medscape.com, ECG Readings From the Apple Watch? This Doctor Is Leery, Dr. Hansa Bhargava gives her perspective of this feature for those diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. She writes that she finds the Apple Watch’s ability to do a one-lead ECG interesting but has some reservations.

“…Here’s what I worry about: the false sense of security that a person could have.

Apple Watch 4 screens

Being able to do a one-lead ECG is definitely interesting, but does it always help? Here’s a scenario. A 40-year-old runner starts feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and has chest pain. He worries but remembers that there is an ECG function on his watch. He proceeds to do the ECG which then reads “normal.” Because of this he decides to continue to run.
What he doesn’t know is that this is only a one-lead ECG, and even though it seems normal, it is an isolated data point; more information is needed to diagnose what is going on. What if he is having angina? In fact, 30% of cardiovascular events happen to people under the age of 65. One lead on an ECG could certainly miss this; in fact, even a 12-lead ECG, if the only isolated data point, could miss this.

Dr. Andrew Moore, an emergency department physician at the Oregon Health and Science University is also skeptical of the Apple Watch 4 ECG feature:

“The ECG thing is a little bit overhyped in terms of what it will really provide. …The tech that Apple is working with is very rudimentary compared to what we’d do for someone in a hospital or health care setting.” 

While the watch can detect changes in the patterns of a person’s heart rate such as too fast, too slow, or beating irregularly—signifying A-Fib, the watch doesn’t diagnose a medical issue.

Apple Watch and Other DIY Heart Rate Monitors

Guide to HRMs and Handheld ECG monitors

Keep in mind these doctors’ concerns apply to all consumer heart rate monitors (HRM), those with optical heart sensors and those with electrode-containing monitors.

Wrist vs. Chest Bands: Wrist-band optical heart-rate monitors (like Apple Watch 4) may be more convenient or comfortable and have advanced over the years. But researchers found that electrode-containing chest-strap monitors were always more accurate than their wrist counterparts and more reliable and consistent. To learn about this research, read When Tracking Your Heart: Is a Wrist-Worn Heart Rate Monitor Just as Good as a Chest Strap Monitor?

Blue-tooth chest-band with smartphone app

As an A-Fib patient, when monitoring your heart beat rate is important to you (while exercising or doing heavy work), you’ll want to stick with an electrode-containing monitor (chest band-style, shirts or sports bras with built-in electrode pads, etc.).

For help selecting a HRM, see our article: Guide to DIY Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs) & Handheld ECG Monitors (Part I). Also take a look at Steve’s list on Amazon.com: Top Picks: DIY Heart Rate Monitors for A-Fib Patients.

Keep in mind: None of these DIY heart rate monitors are diagnostic tools. But they can be helpful once you know you have A-Fib, A-Flutter or suffer from PVCs, PACs, etc. Just don’t make medical decisions based on their readings. See your doctor if you have any concerns or symptoms.

Remember: None of these DIY heart rate monitors are diagnostic tools

Resource for this article
Hansa Bhargava, MD. ECG Readings From the Apple Watch? This Doctor Is Leery: The Apple Watch Gets ‘Medical’. Medscape/NEWS & PERSPECTIVE.  September 14, 2018. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/902001?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=159481AX&impID=1739393&faf=1

Hauk, C. Data Collected by Apple Heart Study Used to Obtain Apple Watch Series 4 ECG Clearance from FDA. Mac trast.com. Sep 14, 2018.
https://www.mactrast.com/2018/09/data-collected-by-apple-heart-study-used-to-obtain-apple-watch-series-4-ecg-clearance-from-fda/

September is A-Fib Awareness Month: The Threat of ‘Silent A-Fib’

GIF: 'That Demon A-FIB ZEBUB' at A-Fib.com

‘That Demon A-FIB ZEBUB’

During September each year, we focus our efforts on reaching those who may have Atrial Fibrillation and don’t know it. ‘Silent A-Fib’ is a serious public health problem. In his personal A-Fib story, Kevin Sullivan, age 46, wrote about his diagnosis of Silent A-Fib.

“I was healthy, played basketball three times per week, and lifted weights. I started to notice on some days playing basketball, I was having some strange sensations in my chest. And sometimes, difficultly catching my breath. But the next day I would feel fine. I assumed this was just what it felt like to get old.”

At the time, he happened to see a cardiologist about medication for high cholesterol:

“I went to see a cardiologist. They looked at my heart with ultrasound and asked if I could feel “that.” I asked them what they were talking about, and they told me that I was having atrial fibrillation. That was the first time I had ever heard of the phrase.”

Like Kevin Sullivan, about 30%–50% of people with Atrial Fibrillation are walking around not knowing they have it. They may get used to their symptoms or they write off the tiredness, dizziness or mental slowness to growing older, but their heart health may be deteriorating.

Untreated, about 35% will suffer a stroke (half of all A-Fib-related strokes are major and disabling).

How You Can Help

A-Fib.com offers an infographic to educate and inform the public about this healthcare issue. See the full infographic here. (See the posters too).

To help spread awareness:

Share it, Pin it, Download it. 

Resources for Writers and Journalists

For more about Silent A-Fib, go to The Threat to Patients with “Silent A-Fib” How to Reach Them

Visit the A-Fib.com Press Room to learn more about Atrial Fibrillation, videos, get free graphics and other resources.

Review: CONTEC Handheld Portable ECG Heart Rate Monitor (PM10)

Tim Zhang from Contec Medical Systems CO., LTD, offered us a Contec Handheld Portable ECG Heart Rate Monitor, PM10, to try for ourselves hoping we would add it to our reviews of other similar units.

Contec PM10/EMAY Ltd EMG-10

The Contec PM10, an FDA Certified device, is also sold as the EMAY Ltd EMG-10. Both handheld portable ECG heart rate monitors are about $79 on Amazon.com. The PM10 is a small 4 oz. unit that can track a single channel ECG waveform. You can observe the scan live, then download the recordings (up to 30) to your computer or smartphone for review and print to share with your doctor. It claims to detect up to 12 cardiac conditions. I don’t have A-Fib anymore (thank goodness), so I wasn’t able to test while in A-Fib.

The user guide’s small size, tiny printing and wording leaves a lot to be desired. (Note: You can find the guide on the internet and download in a normal full-size page layout.)

Easy to Record an ECG, But Requires Software to Review

To charge the PM10 battery: Use the provided micro USB cable to connect the unit to a USB port on your computer. While charging, you’ll see a faint blinking blue light beneath the white plastic at right top front of the curved end.

Taking a scan (no cable or smartphone needed): To turn on, press the blue button (the only button on the unit) and hold down for 3-4 seconds and you’ll hear a beep (it turns off automatically). You’ll notice the metal contacts are sizeable on this relatively small device.

Measurement positions of Contec PM10 at A-Fib.com

Measurement positions of Contec PM10

Hold the unit as shown in the drawings (between both hands, or hold with one hand and the unit on your chest.) You can watch the unit capture your heart beats. It takes a few seconds for the waveform to stabilize, then start recording for a 10 sec measurement. (There’s a 10 sec countdown on the screen). It displays your heart rate as well.

Summary screen: When completed, the ECG scan is replaced with a summary screen with its best guess about the recording. Examples: No abnormal, Bradycardia, Missed beat. You can’t review the recording on the unit. You must download to software on your computer or smartphone.

Contec PHMS App or Software

The PM10 connects by Bluetooth or USB cable to a smartphone phone or computer. You’ll want to install the app or software so you can download your scans for review or printing. The PHMS app can be found on iTunes and Google Play.

Download screen opens first

For a computer, you can download the PHMS software from the Contecmed.com download page or the EMAY Ltd download page (I found EMAY easier and faster).

Reviewing your recordings: On my laptop I connected to the PM10 just like when I charged the battery. (The first time you might want to open the software, then connect the cable and the PM10.)

Manage tab with downloaded scans

The ‘Download’ tab opens first. Press the ‘Start new search’ and the software displays a list of scans from your PM10. Press the button ‘Download all’. Then switch to the ‘Manage’ tab. From here you can select a scan from the list and press ‘Review’ to see the ECG. A Diagnosis column is on the right.

Review screen with ECG and data

From here you can print the scan. (To close, double-click on the ECG to return to the downloaded list).

Helpful tip: When you ‘print’ you can also select ‘Adobe PDF’ as your printer and save to your hard drive, but I had poor image results. An alternative is to take a screenshot or use the Windows snipping tool. Save the image, then print. Either way, you can attach it to an email and send to your doctor.

Amazon.com Contec Reviews from Customers with A-Fib

A curious point about the Amazon.com reviews: The Contec PM-10 has a customer review rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars, whereas the EMAY EMG-10 has a customer rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. From scanning the reviews, EMAY purchasers are happier with their contacts with EMAY customer service. (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.)

Amazon.com link

Use the A-Fib.com portal link to Amazon.com

I’ve included comments from three reviewers (who mention having A-Fib) on the Contec PM10 product page:

• A Contec review on Amazon.com by Ron Crist noted there’s no hidden fees like other popular devices (i.e., monthly fee for Kardia Heart Monitor by AliveCor). He went on to write: “I have persistent AFib and have had 2 crippling strokes. No more cardioversions (electric shocks) for me. I hope. I Strongly recommend it.”

• A doctor with A-Fib, PD, wrote on Amazon.com: This is a very good machine but ekg has some static. I am a doc with atrial fib and this helps in terms of heart rate and ekg…took some experimenting [to set up] but the results are gratifying…Once set up I give it 5 stars.”

• An Amazon reviewer with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation writes: “This monitor allows me to see just when my condition occurs and gives my cardiologist a better picture of my condition. Although not a perfect answer it does enhance the overall picture.”

You can read the Amazon.com reader reviews for yourself at the Contec PM10 and the EMAY EMG-10 product description pages.

Lightweight, Easy to Use, But Not a “Diagnostic” Device

Contec PM10 box & contents

The Contec PM10 is easy to use and carry in a pocket or handbag for scans on the go. Or leave with your laptop for periodic checks. While you can observe the ECG scan live on the screen, there’s no review screen. You must download the scan to review it or print it.

Unlike the AliveCor Kardia, no smartphone or tablet is needed to take scans. Observing the live ECG tracing may be enough for most A-Fib patients who just want a quick check of their heart beat and heart rate. I think you get a lot for the $79 price.

But remember this is not a diagnostic device. It doesn’t replace an ECG by your doctor or use of a mobile type of heart rhythm monitor to capture the electrical activity of your heart (e.g., a Holter monitor or event monitor).

I welcome your comments if you have used this unit or others in our reviews, Guide to DIY Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs) & Handheld ECG Monitors (Part I) and Do-It-Yourself ECG: A Review of Consumer Handheld ECG Monitors. Just send me an email.

Vitamin K―Protection Against Arterial Calcification & Cardiovascular Disease

Most people get just enough Vitamin K from their diets to maintain adequate blood clotting.

But NOT enough Vitamin K to offer protection against health problems including arterial calcification, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, various cancers and brain health problems, including dementia.

The name Vitamin K comes from the German word “Koagulationsvitamin” where its role in blood coagulation was first discovered.

Vitamin K is an essential vitamin. It is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, along with vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E. It’s found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Vitamin K and Vitamin K supplements come in several forms and can be confusing. To increase your levels of Vitamin K, it’s important to understand the differences.

Vitamin K Can be Classified as Either K1 or K2

Vitamin K1: Found in green vegetables, K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain a healthy blood clotting system; keeps your own blood vessels from calcifying, and helps your bones retain calcium.

Vitamin K2: Bacteria produce this type of Vitamin K; it goes straight to vessel walls, bones and tissues other than your liver. It is present in fermented foods, particularly cheese and the Japanese food natto (the richest source of K2).

Different Forms of Vitamin K2

Making matters even more complex, there are several different forms of Vitamin K2. MK-4 and MK-7 are the two most significant forms of K2 and act very differently in your body.

MK-4 is a synthetic product, very similar to Vitamin K1, and your body is capable of converting K1 into MK4. It has a very short biological half-life of about one hour, making it a poor candidate as a dietary supplement. It remains mostly in your liver where it is useful in synthesizing blood-clotting factors.

MK-7 is a newer agent with more practical applications because it stays in your body longer; its half-life is three days, meaning you have a much better chance of building up a consistent blood level, compared to MK-4 or K1. It slows down cardiovascular aging and osteoporosis, and prevents inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory markers produced by white blood cells.

Food Sources of Vitamin K and MK-7

Photo by Like_The_Grand_Canyon on Flickr licensed CC-BY

MK-7 is extracted from the Japanese fermented soy product called ‘natto’. You get loads of MK-7 from natto. However, natto is generally not appealing to a Westerner’s palate (can’t tolerate its smell and slimy texture).

You can also find Vitamin K2, including MK-7, in other fermented foods including some fermented vegetables.

Certain types of fermented cheeses (Jarlsberg) are high in K2 but others are not. It really depends on the specific bacteria. You can’t assume that any fermented food will be high in K2.

Besides broccoli, Brussels sprouts and leafy green vegetables (kale, mustard greens, collard greens, raw Swiss chard, spinach), other foods high in Vitamin K include beef liver, pork chops and chicken, prunes and Kiwi fruit, soybean and canola oil.

Vitamin K Supplements

Choosing a K2 supplement: When supplementing your Vitamin K food sources, consider a high quality MK-7 form of vitamin K2. (Plus, as they are inexpensive, include Vitamin K1 and MK-4 to help inhibit and possibly reverse vascular calcification.)

Relentless Improvement

Dosage: Although the exact dosage of Vitamin K is yet to be determined, one of the world’s top Vitamin K researchers, Dr. Cees Vermeer recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for normally healthy adults.

My choice: I’m taking Relentless Improvement Vitamin K2 MK4 Plus MK7; Read about it on Amazon.com. David Holzman writes that he uses Whole Foods Vitamin K2 which is less expensive. (Use our portal link to Amazon.com and support A-Fib.com)

(If you have a K2 supplement recommendation, email me.)

Remember!
Always take your Vitamin K supplement with food that contains fat
since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

Read more about mineral deficiencies and Atrial Fibrillation, see FAQs: Mineral Deficiencies & Supplements for a Healthy Heart

This article is based on Dr. Mercola’s article, New Study Shows Evidence That Vitamin K2 Positively Impacts Inflammation.
Resources for this article
Mercola, J. New Study Shows Evidence That Vitamin K2 Positively Impacts Inflammation. Mercola.com. October 12, 2013. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/12/vitamin-k2-benefits.aspx

Medicines, Herbs and Supplements: ‘Natural’ Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Safer, or Better

By Patti Ryan, based on an article from the National Institutes of Health

Nature has been good to us. Nature gave us aspirin and morphine, and other medicines derived from plants. The use of plants as medicines has a long history in the treatment of disease, and plants have played an important role in improving our health.

“Natural” vs. “Unnatural”

A lot of people believe that when it comes to medicine, “natural” is better, healthier and safer than “unnatural” or synthetic drugs.

Medicine and supplements: Is “natural” better, healthier and safer?

On the other hand, not all products from nature have been shown to be effective. Some dietary and herbal supplements have failed to show a benefit when scientists have studied them.

For example, several major studies of the herb Echinacea did not find evidence of benefit against the common cold. Studies of ginkgo, including a large study that enrolled more than 3,000 older adults, found that ginkgo supplements don’t help prevent or slow dementia or cognitive decline.

“Natural” Medicines Can Have Side Effects Too

Contrary to what many may think, some “natural” medicines can even have serious safety concerns.

For example, kava, a plant native to the islands of the South Pacific, and often used as a dietary supplement for anxiety, may be associated with severe liver damage.

Ephedra, an evergreen shrub-like plant native to central Asia and Mongolia that has been used for centuries for colds, fever, and other conditions, is associated with heart problems and risk of death. (In fact, the U.S. FDA banned dietary supplements with ephedrine alkaloids.)

Free of chemicals? ... But everything is made of chemicals!

Are “Natural” Medicines Chemical Free?

Some people also believe that “natural” products are safe because they believe these medicines are free of chemicals. For many, the word “chemical” has come to mean toxic or synthetic, something to be avoided.

But everything is made of chemicals. The apple on your kitchen countertop, the ceramic mug in your cupboard, and even the air that you breathe. In fact, you are made up of chemicals, too.

Some chemicals in nature are toxic to us—mercury, snake venom, arsenic, and ricin from castor beans. But other chemicals are good for us and necessary for life—like iron and oxygen (but at high doses are toxic and can even cause death).

When Considering a Herbal or Dietary Supplement

Do your research first!

It’s important to understand that although many herbal or dietary supplements (and some prescription drugs) come from natural sources, “natural” does not always mean that it’s a safer or better option for your health.

And a “chemical” ingredient can be beneficial. An herbal supplement may contain dozens of chemical compounds (but all of its ingredients may not yet be known).

Before you add herbals and supplements to complement your treatment plan, do your research! Strive to make informed decisions about your health.

Our Favorite Resources on Vitamins, Herbs and Supplements

Take charge of your health by being an informed consumer. Find out what the scientific evidence says about the safety of a supplement and whether it works. A good place to start is an unbiased, non-commercial searchable database. Here are our favorites:

1. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute/Integrative Medicine:About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products
2. Drugs.com:MedFacts Natural Products Professional database
3. The ‘Dietary Supplement Label Database’ and Herbs at a Glance at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

For a detailed report, see our FAQ: Where can I find reliable, unbiased research and information on specific vitamins and supplements

Don’t Forget: Keep Your Health Care Providers Informed

To use vitamins, herbs and supplements safely, read and follow the label instructions, and recognize that “natural” does not always mean “safe.”

It’s important to tell all your health care providers about all supplements you take. Be sure to update this information every time you visit your doctors’ offices. That way, they can help you avoid harmful interactions.

Resources for this Article
Natural Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Safer, or Better. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, USA.gov. Last modified October 19, 2017. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/know-science/natural-doesnt-mean-better

Learn to Read Your ECG: Free Online Self-Paced Courses at Healio.com

Start with the ‘ECG Basics’ course

For the reader wanting a more extensive understanding of the Electrocardiogram and A-Fib, we offer you a link to Healio Learn the Hearta FREE online cardiology resource for those seeking to increase their knowledge of ECG tracings interpretation and cardiovascular diseases.

‘Learn the Heart’: A Review or ECG Basics

I suggest you start with the ‘Atrial Fibrillation ECG Review‘ then move on to the ‘ECG Basics‘ to analyze each part of the ECG tracing. Included are detailed explanations and ECG images of the heart in Atrial Fibrillation.

The ‘ECG Basics‘ is concise and focused on only what you need to know, yet very thorough — from waves to segments to complexes. On the LearnTheHeart.com website:

⇒ Go to the Atrial Fibrillation ECG Review->
⇒ Go to the ECG Basics training module->

Reviews and Quizzes, Too

Healio ‘Atrial Fibrillation ECG Review‘ ECG graphic

You can even challenge yourself with the Beginner ECG Quiz featuring detailed answers and links to pertinent explanation pages. Or test your overall knowledge of Atrial Fibrillation with a multiple choice Atrial Fibrillation Quiz.

Other ‘Learn the Heart’ ECG Review Courses

Other ECG courses from Healio review all common ECG findings including normal and abnormal. Each review includes example 12-lead ECGs and, where appropriate, specific criteria. Of particular interest to Atrial Fibrillation patients may be:

Atrial Flutter ECG Review
Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs) ECG Review
Left Atrial Enlargement (LAE) ECG Review
Atrioventricular Nodal Reentrant Tachycardia (AVNRT) ECG Review

Steve’s Brief Overview: The EKG Signal

If you want just a brief overview of the ECG waveform signal and how to “read” an ECG tracing, go to my report, Understanding the EKG Signal.

Use Every Tool Possible: Combine Ablation With Heart Healthy Nutrients and Life-Style Changes

The trap for those who work hard at improving nutrition and supplements is they feel like a failure if they can’t stop their A-Fib with natural means alone. They keep trying one thing after another for years while avoiding an expert’s opinion about an ablation procedure.

Of all the 90+ personal A-Fib stories we’ve published on A-Fib.com, we only have one who states she was cured by natural supplements. (She takes much more than just magnesium and started when she first developed A-Fib.)

But trying natural remedies for A-Fib shouldn’t be an ‘either/or’ decision.

We should use every tool possible to put the ‘A-Fib genie back in the bottle’.

We should use every tool possible to put the ‘A-Fib genie back in the bottle’. The best approach is to combine an expert ablation procedure with permanent dietary improvements (including heart healthy nutrients and supplements) while also addressing any appropriate life-style changes (i.e., for high-blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes and obesity).

For someone who has just developed A-Fib, try to get out of A-Fib ASAP. It goes without saying that it’s not healthy and feels terrible to have A-Fib attacks.

To learn more about combining ‘tools’: go to our Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ Mineral Deficiencies and Supplements and my two articles Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart and Reader With A-Flutter Advises Two Lifestyle Changes.

Reminder About “Holiday Heart”: Binging Alcohol, Marijuana or Rich Foods

Be aware! It’s the time of year when many people end up in a hospital’s emergency room (ER) for treatment of “Holiday Heart Syndrome”, i.e., Atrial Fibrillation triggered by binging—on alcohol, heavy foods and recreational marijuana.

Overindulging in alcohol (six or more drinks) can cause surges in the body’s adrenalin, rises in the levels of free fatty acids, alterations of how sodium moves in and out of the heart cells, and a lowering of the levels of sodium, potassium, and magnesium in the body through diuresis (increased or excessive production of urine).

Does Alcohol Alone Explain Holiday Heart Syndrome?

Recreational Marjuana and A-Fib at A-Fib.com

Trigger: marijuana use

Excessive alcohol is not the only culprit. Recreational use of marijuana can compound the risk as well. Other factors include the nicotine effect in smokers (active and passive), large quantities of rich food, and even cold weather. In addition, fireplace fires and bonfires can release ultra-fine particles in the air from burnt materials and can be bad for the heart.

New Year’s Eve Party Time: Be Aware

As you celebrate, encourage others to avoid heavy alcohol consumption and try to minimize eating large quantities of food at one time. Look for the symptoms of “holiday heart” among your relatives (hereditary A-Fib) and friends. Anyone with any heart symptoms should go to the ER. If they’re lucky, it will be a one time event.

Share the Cheer of the Season

Finally, if you know someone who is depressed, alone, or isolated during the holiday season, reach out and cheer them up.

It may be the best thing you do for their heart as well as yours.

Resources for this article
Castillo, R. Beware of the ‘holiday heart’ hazard. Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 27, 2016. http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/248983/beware-holiday-heart-hazard/

Bunch, TJ, Preventing Holiday Heart Syndrome. EverydayHealth.com. 11/26/2013. http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/jared-bunch-rhythm-of-life/preventing-holiday-heart-syndrome/

Laposata EA, Lange LG. Presence of nonoxidative ethanol metabolism in human organs commonly damaged by ethanol abuse. Science. Jan 31 1986; 231(4737):497-9.

Ettinger PO, Wu CF, De La Cruz C Jr, Weisse AB, Ahmed SS, Regan TJ.  Arrhythmias and the “Holiday Heart”: alcohol-associated cardiac rhythm disorders.  Am Heart J. 1978; 95(5):555-62

Chocolate and Reduced Risk of Atrial Fibrillation: A 13-Year Study

In 2017, there’s more on the health benefits of chocolate! Accumulating evidence links chocolate to heart health and now, a lower risk of atrial fibrillation.

A 13-year Danish study published in 2017 tracked the health of 55,000 participants, aged 50–64 years. During the period, more than 3,300 cases of atrial fibrillation emerged. All of the participants had completed detailed questionnaires about their lifestyles, everything from exercise habits to what they ate and drank, including how much chocolate they consumed.

Study Results: Chocoholics Delight

“Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake,” said lead author of the study Elizabeth Mostofsky of Harvard School of Public Health.

Compared to those who ate a 1-ounce serving of chocolate less often than once a month, the risk of atrial fibrillation was:

• 10 percent lower among those who ate one to three servings a month
• 17 percent lower among those who ate one serving a week
• 20 percent lower among those who ate two to six servings of chocolate a week

Benefits of All Types of Chocolate

In the 2015 study, all types of chocolate, including milk chocolate, seemed to have the same beneficial effect.
Most of the previous studies on the chocolate-heart connection found that only dark chocolate offered any cardiovascular protection. But in a 2015 study, “any type of chocolate, including milk chocolate, seemed to have the same beneficial effect” according to Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publications.

Dr. LeWine added that while scientists aren’t sure why chocolate seems to boost heart health, it may be related to flavonoids, a type of antioxidant produced by plants.

Flavonoids are particularly abundant in cacao beans and have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage. They’ve also been shown to help thinking skills.

To Avoid A-Fib: How Much Chocolate?

The study results found “the rate of atrial fibrillation was 20 percent lower for people consuming two to six 1-ounce servings [of chocolate] per week”.

A-Fib risk was 20 percent lower among those who ate two to six (1 oz.) servings of chocolate a week.

While no recommended daily amounts have been set when it comes to chocolate (or cocoa flavonoids), the European Food Safety Authority suggests that 200 mg of cocoa flavonoids per day is a good target for the general population.

What Patients Need to Know

To reap the various health benefits of chocolate, the higher the cocoa content of the bar, the better. Look for chocolate bars with 70% cocoa or more. You may have to do some detective word, as the amount of cocoa used in chocolate varies a lot (and the amount of flavonoids in chocolate is not always listed.)

Your best bet is to stick with dark chocolate. As a general rule, dark chocolate has more cocoa and therefore more flavonoids than milk chocolate (and less sugar and saturated fat).

References for this Article
• Mostofsky E, et al. Chocolate intake and risk of clinically apparent atrial fibrillation: the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study. Heart Journal. Published Online First: 23 May 2017. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2016-310357. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/heartjnl-2016-310357

• Preidt, R. Could Chocolate Guard Against an Irregular Heartbeat? WebMD News from HealthDay. May 23, 2017. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/news/20170523/could-chocolate-guard-against-an-irregular-heartbeat#1

• Eating Chocolate, A Little Each Week, May Lower The Risk Of A Heart Flutter. Heard on All Things Considered, NPR. May 24, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/05/24/529843647/eating-chocolate-a-little-each-week-may-lower-the-risk-of-a-heart-flutter

• Kwok, CS, et al. Habitual chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease among healthy men and women. Heart 2015; 101 1253-1255 Published Online First: 24 Jul 2015. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2015-308347. URL: http://heart.bmj.com/content/101/16/1279

• LeWine, H. Sweet dreams: eating chocolate prevents heart disease. Harvard Health Publications. June 16, 2015. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sweet-dreams-eating-chocolate-prevents-heart-disease-201506168087

 

To Find Your A-Fib Cure, Build Your ‘Dream Team’

Treating Atrial Fibrillation doesn’t sound like a team sport. But you don’t beat your A-Fib on your own. It takes a team of healthcare professionals and wellness experts to help you seek your A-Fib cure!

While your ‘Dream Team’ will be unique to you, based on your age, symptoms, and other medical conditions, the core members of your Dream Team’ will include:

♥ Your primary care physician: often diagnoses your atrial fibrillation; may prescribe and manage your initial medications (especially for risk of stroke); usually refers you to a cardiologist (hopefully a heart rhythm specialist).

♥ Cardiac Electrophysiologist (EP): a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical functions of your heart; often the leader of your Dream Team! (Read: How to Find the Right Doctor for You.) In addition to your EP, other cardiac professionals may be added to your team including:

▪Cardiac procedure specialist: if you need a catheter ablation, a left atrial appendage occlusion device, i.e. Watchman, AV Node/Pacemaker procedure, pacemaker, etc.

▪Cardiac surgeon: if you need a Maze surgery or Mini-maze surgery

Recruit Beyond Your Team Starters

Don’t stop with just recruiting your star performers. Many of our readers at A-Fib.com have drafted other healthcare practitioners and wellness experts to join their Dream Team. You may benefit from one or more of the following:

Sleep specialist: More than 40% of A-Fib patients also suffer from sleep apnea. Everyone with A-Fib should be tested (Sleep Lab or home study). In fact, your EP may require testing before agreeing to perform a catheter ablation. Learn more about sleep apnea.

♥ Nutritional counselor/Naturopathic physician: Many A-Fib patients have found relief of symptoms through herbal and mineral supplementation (starting with magnesium and potassium). Learn more about a more integrated or natural method of healthcare.

♥ Diet & Exercise specialist: Losing weight through diet and exercise has benefited many A-Fib patients. Some report their A-Fib symptoms have diminished or stopped completely through changes in lifestyle. Read more about a heart-healthy eating plan.

♥ Complementary treatment practitioners:

Acupuncture: Many A-Fib patients have reported relief with acupuncture. Research indicates that acupuncture may have an anti-arrhythmic effect in patients with atrial fibrillation. Read about acupuncture research.

Yoga: Many A-Fib patients practice yoga and report benefits, specifically, the number of symptomatic A-Fib events were down, heart beat and blood pressure dropped, depression eased and anxiety decreased. Read about A-Fib and yoga.

Chiropractor: Several A-Fib.com patients have reported relief with chiropractic treatments. In addition, a few clinical studies have focused on arrhythmia and ‘manipulation’ techniques. Read more.

How to Build Your ‘Dream Team’

Over 90 stories of inspiration at A-Fib.com

Seek inspiration!

Forming your ‘Dream Team’ is an important step toward seeking your A-Fib cure. To build your team, we advise you to use all the resources available to you. Ask for referrals from other A-Fib patients, family and friends, and from your doctors’ nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

For inspiration, learn how others have dealt with their atrial fibrillation. Just browse our list of over 90 A-Fib Stories of Hope and Encouragement. Read a few stories with similar symptoms to your own, age group, etc.

Also, consider corresponding with one of our A-Fib Support Volunteers. They’ve all been where you are now. They have been helped along the way, and want to help other A-Fib patients.

Photos of contributors to Personal Experiences on A-Fib.com

A few of our A-Fib Support Volunteers

Remember, above all,
Aim for Your A-Fib Cure!

Reference for this Article
Iliades, C. Team approach: Your Atrial Fibrillation Management Team. Everydayhealth.com. 5/30/2013 http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/atrial-fibrillation-and-stroke/your-afib-management-team/

It’s Back! Print a High-Quality Illustration of the Heart’s Electrical System

Click to download

Update March 24: The Cleveland Clinic has given us permission to host this graphic of the Heart’s Electrical System on A-Fib.com for the viewing and printing by our readers.

Print and keep this illustration handy for the next time you talk with your doctor about the workings of your heart. Draw and make notes directly on the picture. Add comments in the text box we added at the bottom.

To get yours, just download and store on your hard-drive. To have one handy when you need it, print and store copies in your “A-Fib Binder or folder“.

Download the illlustration.

Also see our Free Offers and Downloads page.

High-Quality Illustration of the Heart’s Electrical System

The Heart's Electrical System Illustration

The Heart’s Electrical System: Click image to download

Update March 24: The Cleveland Clinic has given us permission to host this graphic on A-Fib.com for the viewing and printing by our readers.

Print and keep this illustration handy for the next time you talk with your doctor about the workings of your heart. You can make notes directly on the picture.

Download the PDF file and store on your hard-drive. To have one handy when you need it, print and store copies in your “A-Fib Binder or folder“.
A-Fib.com Library of videos and animations

Video: You may also want to watch the video, How Your Heart Works and Understanding Arrhythmias, or one of several heart animations from our A-Fib.com Video & Animations Library.

Also see our Free Offers and Downloads page.

New Research into Alcohol & A-Fib: How Many Drinks are Too Many?

“While moderate amounts of alcohol appear protective for the ‘plumbing,’ or blood supply to the heart muscle, the benefits of alcohol do not extend to the electrical parts of the heart, or heartbeat.”

Over time, drinking may actually change the electrical signals, triggering irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias).

“The benefits of alcohol do not extend to the electrical parts of the heart.”

Risk per Daily Alcohol Drink

A new study found the risk of atrial fibrillation grew by 8 percent for each daily alcoholic drink. The findings were similar for men and women. The authors looked at previous studies that tracked almost 900,000 people over 12 years.

Fibrosis: The study doesn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Nevertheless, “cell damage from habitual drinking may lead to small amounts of fibrous tissue within the heart that causes the irregular, quivering heartbeat”, the study authors said.

Post-catheter ablation: The review found that people who continue to drink are more likely to have ongoing irregular heartbeats even after catheter ablation.

Weekly recommendation: “..No more than one alcoholic drink per day with two alcohol-free days a week.”

Weekly Alcohol Recommendation

Dr. Pater Kistler recommended that those with irregular heartbeat “should probably drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day with two alcohol-free days a week.”

He added they had no randomized data that tells what a ‘safe’ amount is to consume. The study authors called for more research to determine whether avoiding alcohol completely is required for patients who have irregular heartbeats.

Know Your Triggers

Some Atrial Fibrillation patients have sworn off alcohol altogether. Through trial and error, they’ve found that any amount of alcohol contributes to or triggers their A-Fib episodes.

Dr. Kistler’s research is helpful for the balance of A-Fib patients. It offers some research-based guidelines to minimize the impact of alcohol consumption on their A-Fib.

For additional reading, see my article:Holiday Heart”: Binging Alcohol, Marijuana & Rich Foods.

Resources for this article
▪Voskoboinik, A. et al. Alcohol and Atrial Fibrillation: A Sobering Review. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol. 68, No. 11, 2016. http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/accj/68/23/2567.full.pdf

▪Dotinga, R. Regular Drinkers, Irregular Heartbeat? WebMD.com. Dec 5, 2016. URL: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/news/20161205/regular-drinkers-irregular-heartbeat

▪ Even moderate, habitual alcohol consumption can cause irregular heartbeat. Medical Xpress. Dec 5, 2016.  URL: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-12-moderate-habitual-alcohol-consumption-irregular.html

“Holiday Heart”: Binging Alcohol, Marijuana & Rich Foods

‘Tis the season when many people end up in a hospital’s emergency room (ER) for treatment of “Holiday Heart Syndrome”, i.e., Atrial Fibrillation triggered by alcohol binging.

Overindulging in alcohol (six or more drinks) can cause surges in the body’s adrenalin, rises in the levels of free fatty acids, alterations of how sodium moves in and out of the heart cells, and a lowering of the levels of sodium, potassium, and magnesium in the body through diuresis.

Does Alcohol Alone Explain Holiday Heart Syndrome?

Recreational Marjuana and A-Fib at A-Fib.com

Trigger: recreational marijuana

Excessive alcohol is not the only culprit. Recreational use of marijuana can compound the risk as well. Other factors include the nicotine effect in smokers (active and passive), large quantiles of rich food, and even cold weather. In addition, fireplace fires and bonfires can release ultra-fine particles in the air from burnt materials and can be bad for the heart.

New Year’s Eve Party Time: Be Aware

As you celebrate, encourage others to avoid heavy alcohol consumption and try to minimize eating large quantities of food at one time. Look for the symptoms of “holiday heart” among your relatives (hereditary A-Fib) and friends. Anyone with any heart symptoms should go to the ER. If they’re lucky, it will be a one time event.

Share the Cheer of the Season

Finally, if you know someone who is depressed, alone, or isolated during the holiday season, reach out and cheer them up. It may be the best thing you do for their heart as well as yours.

Resources for this article
Castillo, R. Beware of the ‘holiday heart’ hazard. Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 27, 2016. http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/248983/beware-holiday-heart-hazard/

Bunch, TJ, Preventing Holiday Heart Syndrome. EverydayHealth.com. 11/26/2013. http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/jared-bunch-rhythm-of-life/preventing-holiday-heart-syndrome/

Laposata EA, Lange LG. Presence of nonoxidative ethanol metabolism in human organs commonly damaged by ethanol abuse. Science. Jan 31 1986; 231(4737):497-9.

Ettinger PO, Wu CF, De La Cruz C Jr, Weisse AB, Ahmed SS, Regan TJ.  Arrhythmias and the “Holiday Heart”: alcohol-associated cardiac rhythm disorders.  Am Heart J. 1978; 95(5):555-62

Infographic: September is Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month

Last updated: September 7, 2018

During September each year, we focus our efforts on reaching those who may have Atrial Fibrillation and don’t know it. We offer a our infographic to educate the public about this healthcare issue, along with a free promotional banner and poster.

Share it! Pin it or Download (click on link to view full size, then ‘Save As’ )

Download (600 x 1600-pix): PNG format or JPEG format. Also available: Promo banner and promo poster.

A-Fib.com A-FibFacts.info

About Atrial Fibrillation: An estimated 30%−50% of those affected with Atrial Fibrillation are unaware they have it—often only learning about their A-Fib during a routine medical exam. Of untreated patients, 35% will suffer a stroke. Half of all A-Fib-related strokes are major and disabling.

For more facts about Atrial Fibrillation, read or download the A-Fib Facts 5-page report.

Also available (click to enlarge, then Save As):

Promotional bannersept-is-a-fib-awareness-month-bannerPromotional poster:

sept-is-a-fib-month-orange-head-poster

 

 

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Friday, September 7, 2018

Back to: The Threat to Patients with “Silent A-Fib” How to Reach Them?

My Top 7 Picks: Natural Supplements for a Healthy Heart

By Steve S. Ryan, PhD

While not considered “A-Fib specific” like your medications, these minerals and supplements may improve overall heart health and thereby help your Atrial Fibrillation.

Recommendations for Heart Health

For a detailed discussion of these minerals and supplements along with recommended dosages, see our article, ‘Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart. Our seven recommendations are:

For a detailed discussion of these seven nutritional supplements, see our article ‘Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart.

• Taurine
• Coenzyme Q10
• L-Carnitine
• Omega-3 Fish Oils
• Ribose (D-Ribose)
• Hawthorne Berry
• BCAA+G

Many Sources and My Amazon.com List

These minerals and supplements are available from many reputable retail and online sources. To make shopping easy for you, see my ‘Wish List’ on Amazon.com. (Note: Use any of these Amazon portal links, and your purchases help support A-Fib.com.)  

To get you started choosing brands, tablet size and forms of each supplement, we offer you 2 brands that meets our requirements.

1.  41A5986BbLL._SL500_SL135_Taurine, 1000 Mg

Taurine, along with Magnesium and Potassium, have been described as “the essential trio” for treating nutritional deficiencies relating to A-Fib. Taurine protects potassium levels inside the heart, regulates cellular calcium, and improves heart muscle contraction. Suggested products:

Now Foods Taurine 1000Mg, 100-Capsules; Source Naturals Taurine 1000mg, 240 Capsules

2. Ubiquinol CoQ10 (coenzyme) 100 Mg

Coenzyme’s ability to energize the heart is perhaps its chief attribute; improves heart functions and heart rhythm problems. Coenzyme is a naturally occurring enzyme and plays a key role in producing energy in the mitochondria. “Ubiquinol” is a more readily absorbed form.

Source Naturals Ubiquinol CoQ10 100mg, 90 Softgels; Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb, High Absorption/Enhanced Stability, 100 mg, 120 Softgels

3. GPL-Carnitine dosage: 500 -1000 Mg41pGdDbehjL._SL500_SL135_

L-Carnitine is a vitamin-like nutrient; a derivative of the amino acid lysine which helps to turn fat into energy. Considered by some to be the single most important nutrient in cardiac health. It reduces the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias and premature ventricular contractions (PVCs).

Swanson Glycine Propionyl-L-Carnitine Hcl Gplc 840 mg 60 CapsVitacost GPLC Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine HCl-GlycoCarn 1000 mg PLC per serving – 60 Capsules

4. Omega 3 Fish Oil 1000 Mg 41XsPG8LBGL._SL500_SL135_

Essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA are considered by some to be natural defibrillators, lessening the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias and A-Fib. Krill Fish Oil 1000 Mg; Essential Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA) make blood platelets less sticky, less likely to form clots (cause of strokes). Some prefer Krill oil to fish oil as it’s exacted from organisms living in pristine deep-water seas.

Source Naturals Omega EPA Fish Oil, 1000mg, 100 SoftgelsMegaRed Extra Strength Omega 3 Krill Oil 500mg Supplement, 60 Count

5. Ribose/D-Ribose Powder 51d1BMLf-LL._SL500_SL135_41ZcLixRg3L._SL500_SL135_

Ribose increases tolerance to cardiac stress, lowers stress during exercise, and maintains healthy energy levels in heart and muscle. The heart’s ability to maintain energy is limited by one thing—-the availability of Ribose.

Now Foods D-Ribose Powder, 8-OunceDoctor’s Best Best D-Ribose Featuring Bioenergy Ribose, 250-Gram

6. Hawthorne Extract 41vl3oo6+7L._SL500_SL135_41VLGf88IyL._SL500_SL135_

Hawthorne Berry reduces tachycardias and palpitations and prevents premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). Hawthorne Berry can energize the heart without prompting arrhythmias. It has a normalizing effect upon the heartbeat. Dosage 300 to 510 Mg

Now Foods Hawthorn Extractract 300mg, Veg-capsules, 90-CountNature’s Way Hawthorn Berries , 510 mg., 180 Veg-capsules

7. 512+5YkmiCL._SL500_SL135_BCAA with L-Glutamine, 1000 Mg

‘Branched Chain Amino Acids’ (BCAA) are critical to the repair and maintenance of strong heart muscle and function. Be sure to get BCCA in combination with L-Glutamine (though challenging to find). We like the powder form. Suggested products:

MRM BCAA+G, Lemonade, 35.2-Ounce (1000g) Plastic JarBodyTech BCAA and Glutamine (13.8 Oz Powder)

Note: Mineral supplements may interfere or interact with your prescription medications, so always consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your treatment plan.

Many Physicians are Not Well Versed in Nutritional Support

Always discuss with your doctor before adding supplements - A-Fib.com

Always discuss with your doctor

Don’t expect a lot of support from your doctor. Unfortunately, a great number of doctors are not well versed in recommending or supervising nutritional support. Quite often, they may dismiss your inquiries about nutritional supplements. 

You may need to work with (or educate) your doctor to determine the benefit of supplements for your A-Fib health.

Learn about Mineral Deficiencies and Atrial Fibrillation

For an extensive discussion about mineral deficiencies, see our Treatments page: Minerals Deficiencies.

InfoGFX: How Atrial Fibrillation Damages Your Heart, Brain and Other Organs

by Steve S. Ryan, PhD

It’s a bad idea to just live with your Atrial Fibrillation. A-Fib is a progressive disease. It reduces the amount of blood flowing to the rest of your body by about 15%–30% with damaging effects. At the same time, your heart is working progressively harder and harder.
A-Fib is progressive disease - Infographic Aug 2016

A-Fib is definitely curable. (I was cured of my A-Fib in 1998). If you have A-Fib, no matter how long you’ve had it, you should aim for a complete and permanent cure.

If your doctor is satisfied with just keeping your A-Fib “under control,” I recommend you get a second opinion.

Refer to our Finding the Right Doctor page and related readings. We step you through all you need to know to find the right doctor for you and your treatment goals.

#AtrialFibrillation #afib #Arrhythmia #AtrialTachycardia #Tachycardia

A-Fib Free? Celebrate Your Independence!

Seek your Cure at A-Fib.com

I’ve been A-Fib free since 1998. You can be too! Read my story and over 80 stories of others free from the burden of Atrial Fibrillation, go to: Personal A-Fib Stories of Hope and Courage.

P.S. This week in the U.S., we celebrate the founding of our country with the July 4, 1776 signing of our Declaration of Independence. (BTW: Patti found this photo and writes: “Our family’s Fourth of July picnic celebrations always include a cold slice of watermelon.”)

Steve’s Shopping Guides to Recommended A-Fib-Related Products

A-Fib Shopping Guides at A-Fib.com

Resources & Links

Steve’s Shopping Guides to Recommended A-Fib-Related Products

Steve offers these shopping guides to help you sort through the enormous array of products of interest to A-Fib patients and their families. While the following brands and products are available from Amazon.com, they are also available from iHerb.com and other retailers. Prices will vary.

A-Fib Survival Kit for the Newly Diagnosed

Our list: Your first experiences with Atrial Fibrillation have changed your life in a number of ways. This ‘Survival Kit’ helps get you started when first diagnosed. As a former A-Fib patient (cured since 1998) Steve highly recommends these five items plus a bonus (our favorite medical dictionary).

Go to My ‘A-Fib Survival Kit for the Newly Diagnosed>

A-Fib Reference Books and Guides

Our list: For patients and their families, these are our recommended A-Fib reference books as well as books on patient empowerment, unmasking health statistics, magnesium, and other minerals and supplements, marketing schemes of the pharmaceutical industry and a medical dictionary. See also, our infographicMy Best A-Fib Reference Books for Patients and Their Families.

Go to My ‘A-Fib Reference Books and Guides’ Shopping Guide>

Magnesium & Potassium Supplements for A-Fib Patients

Magnesiu Elements SymbolOur list: Most A-Fib and A-Flutter patients are deficient in Magnesium (Mg) and Potassium (K) which can force the heart into fatal arrhythmias. To learn more, see our page on Mineral Deficiencies.

When choosing to supplement your intake of magnesium and potassium, the plethora of products and brands can be overwhelming. These are the products and brands Steve uses and recommends (plus a great book).

Go to My ‘Magnesium & Potassium Supplements’ Shopping Guide>

Seven ‘Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart

Our list: Steve recommends seven mineral supplements to promote and maintain a healthy heart. (See our article, ‘Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart.)  When shopping for these supplements, wading through the sea of products and brands can be a daunting task.

To get you started Steve has listed a couple choices for each of the following: BCAA+G, Taurine, Unbiquinol CoQH, GPLC, Omega-3 Fish Oils, Ribose and Hawthorne Berry.

Go to My ‘7 Supplements for a Healthy Heart’ Shopping Guide>

DIY Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs)

My list: Do you want to monitor your heart rate when exercising or when performing physically demanding activities (i.e. mowing the lawn, loading equipment, etc.). Consider a consumer ‘DIY” monitor. To learn more see my article: Guide to DIY Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs) & Handheld ECG Monitors.

Steve has sorted through the plethora of products and brands of DIY heart rate monitors and recommends several in a range of prices and features.

Go to: My ‘DIY Heart Rate Monitors’ Shopping Guide>


Help A-Fib.com Become Self-Supporting

UAmazon button with glow 150 pic 96 resse Our Link to Shop Amazon.com

When you use our portal link to shop Amazon.com you are helping support A-Fib.com (at no additional cost to you). Shop for anything, and your purchases generate a small commission which we apply to the maintenance costs of this website. Bookmark this link.

Return to Resources and Links

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Tuesday, April 11, 2017

‘Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart

‘Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart

By Steve Ryan, PhD, Last updated: March 4, 2018

Vitamins and supplements may improve overall heart health and thereby help A-Fib, but they aren’t generally considered “A-Fib specific” like some medications. 

Supplements for a healthy heart at A-Fib.com

Besides monitoring your mineral levels of Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium, you may also want to promote a healthy heart with “natural” supplements. These are recommended supplements for heart rhythm problems and to promote a healthy heart:1,2

To make buying easier, see our Wish List at Amazon.com: For A-Fib Patients: 7 Supplements for a Healthy Heart

Taurine
Coenzyme Q10
L-Carnitine
Omega-3 Fish Oils
Ribose (D-Ribose)
Hawthorne Berry
BCAA+G

Because the above supplements occur naturally, they cannot be patented by drug companies and are not pharmaceuticals. Natural remedies are often not submitted to rigorous double-blind studies with large populations such as the FDA requires for medications. That doesn’t mean these remedies aren’t effective for A-Fib, but only that the level of proof of their effectiveness is different.

Caution: Consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your treatment plan. They may interfere or interact with your prescription medications. Also: Beware of doctors who reject all supplements. Natural supplements normally do not interfere with most medicines.

Taurine

Taurine along with magnesium and potassium have been described as “the essential trio” for treating nutritional deficiencies relating to A-Fib.3 Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid and is the most important and abundant amino acid in the heart. It regulates membrane excitability, scavenges free radicals, protects potassium levels inside the heart, and dampens activity in the sympathetic nervous system.4 Taurine regulates cellular calcium, improves heart muscle contraction, and also prevents the heart from becoming overly irritable, which can lead to heart rhythm problems.5

Caution: Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the artificial sweetener aspartame lower the body’s concentration of taurine.6

Suggested products: Now Foods Taurine 1000Mg, 100-Capsules Source Naturals Taurine 1000mg, 240 Capsules

Dosage: Daily: 3,000 mg in divided doses with meals. 

(One study by G. Eby recommends 10 to 20 grams of taurine/day combined with 4-6 grams of L-argenine to stop A-Fib. But this is a relatively heavy dosage requiring 10-20 1000 mg pills/day.7,8 [I think the dosages G. Eby recommends may be too much and have heard that such a high level of Taurine can cause palpitations and high blood pressure. But I haven’t run across any studies that document this.] 

Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol)

Coenzyme Q-10 is a naturally occurring enzyme, part of the quinone chemical group, that is found in every cell in the body. It plays a key role in producing energy in the mitochondria. CoQ10’s ability to energize the heart is perhaps its chief attribute. 95% of the body’s energy is generated by CoQ10, which generates energy in the form of ATP.9 CoQ10 improves heart functions and heart rhythm problems.10 The CoQ10 should have “Ubiquinol” on the label rather than “ubiquinone” which your body has to first convert to ubiquinol to get the benefits. 

Caution: Be advised that taking statin drugs reduces CoQ10 levels. A CoQ10 deficiency is associated with illness and death in animals.12

Dr. Sinatra calls Coenzyme Q10 “the spark of life.” In heart cells CoQ10 provides the spark that initiates the energy process.11 It prolongs the action potential and helps maintain sinus rhythm. It’s also a powerful antioxidant.

Gel tabs are better absorbed than powdered tablets.

Suggested products: Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb, High Absorption/Enhanced Stability, 100 mg, 120 SoftgelsSource Naturals Ubiquinol CoQH 100mg, 90 Softgels;

Dosage: 100-300 mg daily in divided doses with meals.13  

L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine is a vitamin-like nutrient. It’s a derivative of the amino acid lysine which helps to turn fat into energy. It is considered by some to be the single most important nutrient in cardiac health. It reduces the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias and premature ventricular contractions (PVCs).14,15 Dr. Sinatra says Coenzyme Q10 and Carnitine work together, and calls them the “twin pillars of heart health.”16 While CoQ10 ignites the spark that generates ATP, L-Carnitine is the energy shuttle that transports long-chain fatty acids to the heart cells (mitochondria) where they are burned as fuel.

A newer form “propionyl-L-carnitine (PLC)” targets heart tissue specifically.17

Suggested products: Swanson Glycine Propionyl-L-Carnitine Hcl Gplc 840 mg 60 CapsVitacost GPLC Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine HCl-GlycoCarn 1000 mg PLC per serving – 60 Capsules

Dosage: Daily: 750-2000 mg of L-Carnitine Fumerate (250 to 500 mg three to four times a day). 

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Omega-3 Fish Oils

Fish Oil/Essential Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA are essential nutrients obtained primarily from eating fish or from supplements.) DHA plays a crucial role in brain function, as well as in normal growth and development. Essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA are considered by some to be natural defibrillators, lessening the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias and A-Fib.18  DHA in particular helps stabilize the heart’s electrical activity, reducing risk of fatal arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

(In one experiment, Harvard researchers added different toxins to heart cell cultures that caused them to beat erratically. However, when they added omega-3 fatty acids at the same time, arrhythmias were prevented.)”19

Try to find a Fish Oil that includes the supplement Gamma E (d-Alpha Tocopherol) to prevent oxidation of the oil once it reaches the tissue.20 Note: Some prefer Krill oil to fish oil as it’s exacted from organisms living in pristine deep-water seas.

Recommended products: Source Naturals Omega EPA Fish Oil, 1000mg, 100 SoftgelsMegaRed Extra Strength Omega 3 Krill Oil 500mg Supplement, 60 Count

Dosage: Daily: 2,000-8,000 mg in liquid or tablets, in divided doses21  

Ribose (D-Ribose)

Ribose (D-Ribose) is a five-carbon sugar that is a regulator in the production of ATP. It’s a carbohydrate that is the backbone of genetic materials, and it’s needed in the production of many metabolic compounds. “The heart’s ability to maintain energy is limited by one thing—the availability of ribose.”

Ribose increases tolerance to cardiac stress, improves exercise tolerance and physical function, provides cardiac energy needed to maintain normal heart function, increases cardiac efficiency, lowers stress during exercise, and maintains healthy energy levels in heart and muscle.22,23 When first starting Ribose, start with small doses at first, then increase gradually.

Suggested products: Now Foods D-Ribose Powder, 8-OunceDoctor’s Best Best D-Ribose Featuring Bioenergy Ribose, 250-Gram.

Dosage: Daily: 7-10 grams of Ribose powder. Take in divided doses with meals or just before and after exercise.  

Hawthorne Berry

Hawthorne Berry Extract is made from the tiny red berries of the Hawthorne Shrub, and has been used in traditional medicine since ancient times. It reduces tachycardias and palpitations and prevents premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). Hawthorne Berry can energize the heart without prompting arrhythmias. It has a normalizing effect upon the heartbeat.24 

Recommended products: Now Foods Hawthorn Extractract 300mg, Veg-capsules, 90-CountNature’s Way Hawthorn Berries , 510 mg., 180 Veg-capsules

Dosage: 4,500 mg daily in divided doses (three 510 mg capsules three times a day). 

BCAA+G

Another possible natural remedy for A-Fib is Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) coupled with L-Glutamine. These amino acids (BCAA) are critical to the repair and maintenance of strong  muscles. All of your muscles, including your heart, could suffer because of BCAA deficiencies. and your heart is only a muscle after all.25 BCAAs can be obtained only from external food sources. Maintaining proper BCAA levels is critical to heart muscle function.26

Recommended products: MRM BCAA+G, Lemonade, 35.2-Ounce (1000g) Plastic JarBodyTech BCAA and Glutamine (13.8 Oz Powder).

Dosage: Two teaspoons of BCAA+G powder in the morning and evening.  

Our Amazon.com Wish List
These supplements are available from many sources. To make it easy to purchase them, we’ve created a Wish List at Amazon.com: For A-Fib Patients: 7 Supplements for a Healthy Heart. To get you started, we list two brands for each supplement in the list that meet our basic criteria. Go to our Wish List!

Additional Reading

Dr. Frank Shallenberger in Real Cures newsletter (now editor of Second Opinion) recommends the following protocol for all patients with A-Fib:

1. Vitamin C 1,000 mg 3 times/day
2. CoQ10 300 mg/day
3. L-carnitine 3,000 mg/day
4. Magnesium Glycinate 800 mg/day
5. D-ribose 3,000-6,000 mg/day27

For more information about supplements for Lone A-Fib, you may also want to visit the websiteDr Lam and Body. Mind. Nutrition” and read the article,  The Best of Western and Eastern Medicine, The LAF Protocol: 11 Strategies to Prevent/Treat Lone Atrial Fibrillation.

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If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Sunday, March 4, 2018

Steves A-Fib Survival Kit - SLIM - 500 pix wide at 96 res

For the newly diagnosed, I highly recommend these items to deal with this beast called ‘Atrial Fibrillation’.

Footnote Citations    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Taurine. Life Extension Vitamins. Last accessed November 5, 2012 http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/cadico14thvz.html
  2. Sinatra, Stephen J., “The Sinatra Solution Metabolic Cardiology.” Basic Health Publications, 2008, p. 162.
  3. Burgess, J. The Strategy – What Metabolic Cardiology Means to Afibbers. July 2010, p. 5. http://www.afibbers.org/resources/magnesiumabsorption.pdf
  4. Taurine. Life Extension Vitamins. Last accessed November 5, 2012 http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/cadico14thvz.html
  5. Ibid.
  6. Burgess, J. The Strategy – What Metabolic Cardiology Means to Afibbers. July 2010, p. 14. http://www.afibbers.org/resources/magnesiumabsorption.pdf
  7. Burgess, J. FACT (moderator@gordonresearch.com). Atrial Fibrillation responses. A1: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/atrial-fibrillation-cause.html
  8. Eby G, et al. Elimination of cardiac arrhythmias using oral taurine with l-arginine with case histories: Hypothesis for nitric oxide stabilization of the sinus node. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(5):1200-4. Epub 2006 Jun 23.  PMID: 16797868. Lasted accessed March 2, 2013. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16797868
  9. Coenzyme Q10. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Last accessed Jan 10, 2012 URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coenzyme_Q10
  10. Whitaker, Julian. Health Encyclopedia CD-ROM. p.4.
  11. Cardiovascular Disease Comprehensive 8 – Therapeutic C. Life Extension Vitamins. Last accessed November 5, 2012 URL: http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/cadico8thc.html
  12. Sinatra, Stephen J., “The Sinatra Solution Metabolic Cardiology.” Basic Health Publications, 2008, Ch. 4.
  13. Whitaker, Julian. Health Encyclopedia CD-ROM. p.4.
  14. L-Carnitine. Cardiovascular Disease Comprehensive 8 – Therapeutic C. Life Extension Vitamins. Last accessed November 5, 2012 URL: http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/cadico8thc.htm
  15. Crayhon, Robert. The Carnitine Miracle. Rowman & Littlefield, 2001
  16. Burgess, J. The Strategy – What Metabolic Cardiology Means to Afibbers. July 2010, p. 17. http://www.afibbers.org/resources/magnesiumabsorption.pdf
  17. Burgess, J. The Strategy – What Metabolic Cardiology Means to Afibbers. July 2010, p. 21. http://www.afibbers.org/resources/magnesiumabsorption.pdf
  18. Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Cardiovascular Disease Comprehensive 9 – Therapeutic D-E. Last accessed Jan 10, 2013. URL: http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/cadico9thde.html
  19. Whitaker, Julian. Health Encyclopedia CD-ROM. p.4.
  20. Burgess, J. The Strategy – What Metabolic Cardiology Means to Afibbers. July 2010, p. 21. http://www.afibbers.org/resources/magnesiumabsorption.pdf
  21. Whitaker, Julian. Health Encyclopedia CD-ROM. p.4.
  22. Burgess, J. The Strategy – What Metabolic Cardiology Means to Afibbers. July 2010, p. 20. http://www.afibbers.org/resources/magnesiumabsorption.pdf
  23. Sinatra, Stephen J., “The Sinatra Solution Metabolic Cardiology.” Basic Health Publications, 2008, p. 162.
  24. Hawthorn Berry. Cardiovascular Disease Comprehensive 11 – Therapeutic H. Last accessed Jan 10, 2013. http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/cadico11thh.html
  25. Seven Reasons to Use BCAA Supplements. Invigorate360.com Last accessed Jan 10, 2013 URL: http://www.invigorate360.com/reviews/7-reasons-to-use-bcaa-supplements/
  26. Huang, Y. et al. “Branched-chain amino acid metabolism in heart disease: an epiphenomenon or a real culprit?” Cardiovascular Research, (2011) 90 (2): 220-223. Last accessed Jan 10, 2013 URL: http://cardiovascres.oxfordjournals.org/content/90/2/220.abstract
  27. Shallenberger, Frank. Real Cures. Vol. 12, No. 9. Sept. 2013

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