ABOUT 'BEAT YOUR A-FIB'...


"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

"Your book [Beat Your A-Fib] is the quintessential most important guide not only for the individual experiencing atrial fibrillation and his family, but also for primary physicians, and cardiologists."

Jane-Alexandra Krehbiel, nurse, blogger and author "Rational Preparedness: A Primer to Preparedness"



ABOUT A-FIB.COM...


"Steve Ryan's summaries of the Boston A-Fib Symposium are terrific. Steve has the ability to synthesize and communicate accurately in clear and simple terms the essence of complex subjects. This is an exceptional skill and a great service to patients with atrial fibrillation."

Dr. Jeremy Ruskin of Mass. General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

"I love your [A-fib.com] website, Patti and Steve! An excellent resource for anybody seeking credible science on atrial fibrillation plus compelling real-life stories from others living with A-Fib. Congratulations…"

Carolyn Thomas, blogger and heart attack survivor; MyHeartSisters.org

"Steve, your website was so helpful. Thank you! After two ablations I am now A-fib free. You are a great help to a lot of people, keep up the good work."

Terry Traver, former A-Fib patient

"If you want to do some research on AF go to A-Fib.com by Steve Ryan, this site was a big help to me, and helped me be free of AF."

Roy Salmon Patient, A-Fib Free; pacemakerclub.com, Sept. 2013


Potassium

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.

My Top 5 Picks: DIY Heart Rate & Handheld ECG Monitors

By Steve S. Ryan, PhD

Many A-Fib patients want to monitor their heart rate when exercising or when performing physically demanding activities, i.e., mowing the lawn, loading equipment, etc. (I wore one when I had A-Fib.) A consumer ‘DIY” monitor or Handheld ECG monitor may meet this need.

 
My Top 5 Picks for DIY Heart Rate & Handheld ECG Monitors


To get you started, here are my Top 5 Picks. 
These products are available from many online sources, but to make it easy for you and to read my other recommendations, see my ‘Wish List’ on Amazon.com. (Note: Use our Amazon portal link, and your purchases help support A-Fib.com.) 

Polar FT2 Heart Rate Monitor at A-Fib.com1. Polar FT2 Heart Rate Monitor

Used by runners and other athletes, this basic model has a clear, LARGE number display of your heart rate (as number).

The included Polar FT2 chest strap picks up the electrical signals from your heart and transmits to the wrist watch. Simple one-button start. Includes FT2 Getting Started Guide.

Also look at Polar FT1. Polar is my brand of choice, but there are many good brands.

2. Polar RS300X Heart Rate Monitor

A more advanced Polar model. Water resistant. Many built-in fitness features in addition to displaying your heart rate as a number (not a tracing). The included H1 heart rate sensor chest strap sends a continuous heart rate signal to the wrist watch.

Also look at Polar FT4; in colors.

Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor & Fitness Tracker 150 x 75 pix at 300 res3. Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor (Chest Strap)

Bluetooth-compatible heart rate sensor chest strap; Pair it with an app on your iPhone, iPad and Android device (instead of the Polar wrist watch).

AliveCor 250 x 150 pix at 300 res4. AliveCor Mobile ECG for Apple and Android devices

For ECG tracings. Attaches to most smartphones and works with tablets. Records and displays an actual medical-grade ECG in just 30 seconds that you can share with your doctor. Shows whether your heart rhythm is normal or if atrial fibrillation is ‘detected’.

BioMedetrucs Performance Monitor 150 x 110 pix at 300 res5. BodiMetrics Performance Monitor

For ECG tracings & more. Stand alone unit captures and displays actual ECG and other vitals in less than 20 seconds. Palm-size, slips into your pocket or purse. Wireless, syncs with your Android or iPhone. More than just heart activity, set goals with daily reminders, etc.

BONUSFacelake Fl400 Pulse Oximeter

Many A-Fib patients also suffer with sleep apnea. An easy way to check is to measure your blood’s oxygen level. A reading of 90% or lower means you should talk to your doctor, you may need a sleep study.

 

Consumer Heart Rate Monitors by Polar

Guides to DIY HRMs

Learn More About DIY Heart Rate Monitors

For more information about these monitors, see my Guide to DIY Heart Rate Monitors & Handheld ECG Monitors (Part I).

To learn how they work, see DIY Heart Rate Monitors: How They Work For A-Fib Patients (Part II).

My Top 7 Picks: Books for A-Fib Patients and Their Families

By Steve S. Ryan, PhD

Knowledge is power. Educate yourself about Atrial Fibrillation. Empower yourself as a patient. Learn to see through the hype of healthcare websites!
My top 7 A-Fib reference books and guides at A-Fib.com

My Top 7 Recommendations for A-Fib Patients and Their Families

For patients and their families, these are our favorite books about A-Fib as well as patient empowerment, unmasking the facts behind health statistics, the importance of Magnesium supplements and insights into the pharmaceutical industry. And a Bonus: the best medical dictionary for A-Fib patients.

These books and guides are available from many online sources, but to make it easy for you (and to read my other recommendations), see my ‘Wish List’ on Amazon.com. (Note: Use our Amazon portal link, and your purchases help support A-Fib.com.) 

Beat Your A-Fib book cover at A-Fib.com1. Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure: Written in everyday language for patients with Atrial Fibrillation

A-Fib can be cured! That’s the theme of this book written by a former A-Fib patient and publisher of the patient education website, A-Fib.com. Empowers patients to seek their cure. Written in plain language for A-Fib patients and their families.

Practice Guide to Heart Rhythm Problems at A-Fib.com2. A Patient’s Guide to Heart Rhythm Problems (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book)

Up-to-date resource on heart arrhythmias. Good overview of the heart and its functions. Several good chapters on Atrial Flutter and Atrial Fibrillation. Also a very good chapter entitled ‘Defensive Patienting’.

Medifocus Guide to Atrial Fibrillation report cover at A-Fib.com3. Medifocus Guidebook on: Atrial Fibrillation

Updated annually. Categories of research studies, drug therapies and non-drug therapies. Synopis only. Must find full-length documents online or at a library. For current issue go to: http://tinyurl.com/MedifocusGuide-AFIB

The Magnesium Miracle book cover at A-Fib.com4. The Magnesium Miracle (Revised and Updated Edition)

Comprehensive book on the importance and helpful benefits of magnesium as well as just what a magnesium deficiency causes. Easy-to-read with organized sections and easy-to-use dosing recommendations. Best seller on Amazon.com

Know Your Chances book cover at A-Fib.com5. Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics

Do you question the facts behind today’s barrage of health risk messages? Unmask the truth. Learn to see through the hype in medical news, TV drug ads and pitches from advocacy groups.

The Empowered Patient book cover at A-Fib.com6. The Empowered Patient: How to Get the Right Diagnosis, Buy the Cheapest Drugs, Beat Your Insurance Company, and Get the Best Medical Care Every Time

Excellent resource. Learn about the times when we need to be a ‘bad patient’. It’s okay to ‘rock the boat’ or be a ‘nuisance’. When it comes to medicine, trust no one completely. Everyone should read this book.

Bad Pharma book cover at A-Fib.com7. Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients

A real eye-opener to the decades-long goals and tactics of the pharmaceutical industry to create and maintain demand for their products. A must read for anyone taking prescription meds for the long-term (i.e. hypertension, high cholesterol, etc.).

Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary book cover at A-Fib.comBONUS: Concise Medical Dictionary (Oxford Quick Reference)

An  excellent medical dictionary, the best I’ve found for patients with Atrial Fibrillation who are conducting research into their best treatment options. Includes occasional illustrations (for fun check p. 276 for the types of fingerprint patterns).

Read More, Learn More

Knowledge is power. Educate yourself and become your own best patient advocate!

To see my complete list of all items I recommend for A-Fib patients and their families, see my list on Amazon.com: By a Former A-Fib Patient: My Recommended Products.

What's working for you? Share your tips at A-Fib.com

Email us what’s working for you.

Share Your Tip

Do you have a favorite book that has helped you with your Atrial Fibrillation? Email me about it.

Is a specific treatment working for you? Have lifestyle changes helped? Or, perhaps, an alternative or homeopathic remedy?

Won’t you email us and share your tip?

My Top 5 Picks: Steve’s A-Fib Survival Kit for the Newly Diagnosed

By Steve S. Ryan, PhD

Your first experiences with Atrial Fibrillation have changed your life in a number of ways. As a former A-Fib patient (cured since 1998) I highly recommend these items when first diagnosed with this beast called ‘Atrial Fibrillation’.

 My Top 5 Recommendations for the Newly Diagnosed

These are the products I recommend (and use) along with a Bonus: a good medical dictionary. These items are available from many online sources, but I’ve made them easy to order by making a ‘Wish List’ on Amazon.com. (Note: Use our Amazon portal link, and your purchases help support A-Fib.com.)

Magnesium Mg Drs Best1. Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium (200 Mg Elemental), 240-Count

Most A-Fib patients are deficient in Magnesium (Mg). While Magnesium (Mg) is one of the main components of heart cell functioning, it seems to be chronically lacking in most diets.

One form of easily absorbed magnesium is Magnesium glycinate, a chelated amino acid. Look for the label ‘Albion Minerals’ designed to limit bowel sensitivity. Dosage: 600-800 mg daily in divided dosages (meals and bedtime). Read more about Magnesium.

Potassium NOW bottle2. Now Foods Potassium Gluconate Pure Powder, 1-pound

Just like magnesium deficiency, A-Fib patients are usually deficient in Potassium as well. We recommend the powder in order to take the recommended dose of 1600-2400 mg per day.

Be cautious of potassium tablets. For example those listed as 540 mg ONLY contain 99 mg of Potassium. Read more about Potassium.

BYA cover3. Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure: Written in everyday language for patients with Atrial Fibrillation

A-Fib can be cured! That’s the theme of this book written by a former A-Fib patient and publisher of the patient education website, A-Fib.com. Empowers patients to seek their cure. Written in plain language for A-Fib patients and their families.

Polar FT2 Heart Rate Monitor at A-Fib.com4. Polar FT2 Heart Rate Monitor, Black or Blue

Many A-Fib patients want to monitor their heart rate when exercising or doing strenuous tasks (mowing the lawn, moving equipment, etc.) This is a basic DIY model with a clear, LARGE number display of your heart rate (as a number). Requires wearing the included T31 coded transmitter chest strap.

One-button start. Includes a FT2 Getting Started Guide.

Also look at other Polar models: FT1 & RS3000X. I wore a Polar monitor when I had A-Fib, so it’s my brand of choice, but there are many other good brands.

Oximeter image5. Facelake Fl400 Pulse Oximeter

Many A-Fib patients also suffer with undiagnosed sleep apnea. A finger Oximeter is an easy way to check your oxygen level. A reading of 90% or lower means you should talk to your doctor as you may need a sleep study.

Oxford Med DictionaryBONUS: Concise Medical Dictionary (Oxford Quick Reference)

An excellent medical dictionary, the best I’ve found for patients with Atrial Fibrillation who are conducting research into their best treatment options. Includes occasional illustrations (for fun check p. 276 for the types of fingerprint patterns).

Learn More about…

For more suggestions, see my Amazon.com ‘Wish List’ By a Former A-Fib Patient: My Recommended Products.

A-Fib Support Volunteers at A-Fib.com

Learn about our A-Fib Support Volunteers

Our A-Fib Support Volunteers: Just an Email Away

After being diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, it’s helpful to talk with someone who knows what you are going through, someone you can turn to for advice, emotional support, and a sense of hope that you can be cured. That’s the role of our A-Fib Support Volunteers.

They offer you support and encouragement through exchanging emails and sharing their stories. (Not all Support Volunteers are ‘cured’ of their A-Fib, but have found the best outcome for their situation.) Learn about our world-wide network and how to contact one or more of our volunteers.

My Top 5 Picks: When You’re Deficient in Magnesium & Potassium

A deficiency in Magnesium and Potassium can force the heart into fatal arrhythmias. Most A-Fib patients are lacking in both minerals.

Magnesium & Potassium Deficiencies are Common

Magnesium (Mg) is needed for proper muscle, nerve, and enzyme function. Lacking in most diets, it’s often necessary to take a magnesium supplement over several months to restore levels.

A-Fib patients are often deficient in Potassium (K), as well In fact, a deficiency of magnesium can lead to potassium depletion. Potassium is essential for normal nerve impulses and muscle function and maintaining normal cardiac function.

A Wish List: My Top 5 Recommendations

These are the Mg and K products I recommend (and use) along with a great book on magnesium. I’ve also added two Bonus Videos. These products are available from many online sources. You can see this ‘Wish List’ on Amazon.com. (Note: Use our Amazon portal link, and your purchases help support A-Fib.com.) For recommended dosages, go to Treatments/Mineral Deficiencies.

 Magnesium Mg Drs Best1. Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium

(200 Mg Elemental) 240-Count tablets. One form of easily absorbed magnesium is Magnesium glycinate a chelated amino acid. Look for the label ‘Albion Minerals.’ This is a patented process designed to limit bowel sensitivity.

 Potassium NOW bottle2. Now Foods Potassium Gluconate Pure Powder, 1-pound

Just like magnesium deficiency, A-Fib patients are usually deficient in Potassium as well. We recommend the powder in order to take the recommended 1600-2400mg/day. (Be cautious of tablets that list ‘540mg’ but only contain 99mg of Potassium.)

 Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil3. Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil, 8 oz.

If oral magnesium causes bowel sensitivity (loose stools), an alternative is magnesium oil which bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. Spray on the skin and massage in. After 20-30 minutes, you can wipe off any powder residue (salt) or just jump in the shower!

(Tip: My wife applies 5-6 sprays of magnesium oil to each leg before bed to help with muscle ticks.)

 Epson Salts bag4. Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) in bulk

Another way to supplement magnesium (or as an alternative) is an Epsom Salt bath. Add with 2 cups of Epsom Salt to a warm bath and soak for 20-30 minutes. (Caution: Epsom Salt baths can also cause loose stools.)

Note: Use any brand.

 The Magnesium Miracle book cover5 The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean

Comprehensive book on the importance and helpful benefits of magnesium as well as just what a magnesium deficiency causes. Easy to read with organized sections with dosing recommendations. Best seller on Amazon.com with over 600 reviews.

Dr. Carolyn DeanVIDEO BONUS:

From our A-Fib video library, two short videos with Carolyn Dean, the author of The Magnesium Miracle:

1.      The Best Way to Take Magnesium and
2.      The Importance of Balancing Calcium and Magnesium.

Learn More about Mineral Deficiencies

To read more about mineral deficiencies and how to use these products and recommended dosages, go to Treatments section on Mineral Deficiencies.

Caution: Consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your treatment plan.

Got A-Fib? You're not Alone. Check our list of online discussion groups

References for this article

‘Doctor Health’ Radio: A-Fib Patients & Common Mineral Deficiencies

INTERVIEW: Dr David Snow, host of Doctor Health Radio, talks with Steve S. Ryan, PhD, publisher of A-Fib.com, about magnesium and potassium deficiencies, both common among A-Fib patients; how ‘calcium overload’ can actually bring on Atrial Fibrillation; other supplements to promote a healthy heart; and a few warnings for A-Fib patients.

See our library of videos about Atrial Fibrillation

Video Format: radio interview with lower third graphic titles.
Length: 5:27 min. Click to listen in.

VIDEO LIBRARY: We have loads of A-Fib-related videos in our Video Library. For the reader who learns visually through motion graphics, audio, and personal interviews, these videos are organized loosely into three levels: introductory/basic, intermediate and in-depth/advanced.

See our video library for more videos featuring Steve S. Ryan, PhD.

FAQs A-Fib Drug Therapy: Medications with Heart Condition

 FAQs A-Fib Drug Therapy: Medications

Drug Therapies for Atrial Fibrillation, A-Fib, Afib

1. “Which medications are best to control my Atrial Fibrillation?” “I have a heart condition. What medications work best for me?”

A doctor’s choice of drug therapy depends on one’s overall heart health, i.e., if there’s a heart condition other than Atrial Fibrillation.

In general, current medications don’t always work on A-Fib. People tend to react differently to meds. What works for one person may be terrible for another. What medications are best for you is a judgment call only you and your doctor can make..

When trying a new med, there is a fine line between allowing time for your body to adjust to it versus recognizing that this drug is causing bad, unacceptable side effects.

When starting a new med, your doctor may hospitalize you in order to monitor how the drug affects you and to get the dosage right.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with paroxysmal (occasional) A-Fib, flecainide (brand name Tambocor) or propafenone (Rythmol) might work for you. Some people have had good luck with the relatively new drugs dofetilide (brand name Tikosyn) and Rhythmol SR (propafenone sustained release). The newest antiarrhythmic med is Multaq (dronedarone) which is a less toxic substitute for amiodarone. Also see Treatments/Drug Therapies.

Guidelines from the ACC/AHA/ESC based on one’s overall heart health and heart conditions other than Atrial Fibrillation:

•  Minimal or no heart disease. Flecainide, propafenone, sotalol. The object is to “minimize organ toxicity,” to select drugs that will not harm the rest of the body. The above drugs can cause “proarrhythmia” (an increase in heart rhythm problems), “but in patients without heart disease, this risk is extremely small.”
•  If these drugs don’t work, then dofetilide and amiodarone can be considered. And “in experienced hands one might choose (Pulmonary Vein) Ablation (Isolation) for a primary cure.”
•  Congestive heart failure. Only dofetilide and amiodarone have been demonstrated to be safe in randomized trials.
•  Congestive heart failure and significant lung disease. “I would likely consider dofetilide as my first choice.”
•  Congestive heart failure who are “hypokalemic” (have low levels of potassium). Amiodarone.
•  Coronary artery disease. Sotalol is recommended because of its beta blocking and antiarrhythmic effects. Amiodarone or dofetilide combined with a beta blocker can also be used. Propafenone and flecainide aren’t recommended.
•  Hypertension. Propafenone or flecainide.
•  Hypertension and substantial left ventricular “hypertrophy” (increase in size). Amiodarone, because it has the least proarrhythmic effect.

(These guidelines are based on a presentation by Dr. Eric Prystowsky, see Boston AF/2003/ Prystowsky.)

Return to FAQ Drug Therapies

Mineral Deficiencies

Mineral Deficiencies - common among atrial fibrillation patients,, A-Fib.com, Afib.

Mineral Deficiencies – common among atrial fibrillation patients.

Mineral Deficiencies

When you have A-Fib, a sensible starting point may be to check for chemical imbalances or deficiencies. A deficiency in minerals like magnesium or potassium can force the heart into fatal arrhythmias.

Minerals, vitamins and herbs have a long and consistently safe track record. Nearly half of the people in the US take supplements every day. A large study published in 2012 found that there were no deaths linked to nutritional supplements in 2010. (Whereas in an average year, there are roughly 200,000 deaths and over 500,000 adverse events reported due to prescription drugs.)1

Unfortunately a great number of physicians are not well versed in recommending or supervising nutritional support and quite often, will dismiss your inquiries about nutritional supplements.2

You may need to work with your doctor to determine the benefit of supplements for your A-Fib health. (See the FDA’s attack on cherries as an example of the bias you may encounter.)3

Remember: The authors of this website are not medical doctors. Consult with your doctor before adding any minerals or supplements to your treatment plan. They may interfere or interact with the medications you are taking. In addition, you may need closer medical supervision while taking minerals and/or supplements.
Magnesium, Mg - common mineral deficiencies among atrial fibrillation patients, A-Fib.com, Afib.

Magnesium

 Magnesium

“Anyone in A-Fib is almost certainly magnesium deficient.”4

While Magnesium (Mg) is one of the main components of heart cell functioning, it seems to be chronically lacking in most diets. “Magnesium deficiencies range from 65% to 80% in general populations in the US and globally.”5 “At least 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium.”6

Most US adults ingest only about 270 mg of magnesium a day, well below the modest magnesium RDAs of 420 mg for adult males and 320 mg for adult females. This creates a substantial cumulative deficiency over months and years.7

Magnesium used to be plentiful in fruits, vegetable and grains, but decades of industrial-scale farming have stripped the soil of minerals like magnesium. One study found that the nutrient content of crops has declined by as much as 40% since the 1950s. “It now is almost impossible to get adequate amounts of magnesium from food.”8

Most US adults ingest only about 270 mg of magnesium a day, well below the modest magnesium RDAs of 420 mg for adult males and 320 mg for adult females.

Common blood tests are poor indicators of your Magnesium level because Magnesium does its work inside the cell (intracellular), not in the blood. Blood “serum” levels of Magnesium are misleading. They remain relatively stable (at about 1%), even when working intracellular magnesium levels are low. (The body “robs” stored Magnesium to maintain the 1% level in your blood. Not good.)

More meaningful is an intracellular test such as Red Blood Cell (RBC) Magnesium analysis. (Another is the EXAtest” (http://www.exatest.com), unfortunately few doctors provide this test.) The RBC test gives the average level of Magnesium in the cells for the past four months. (A normal lower limit is 33.9 mEq/IU191.) Combined with your symptoms, the RBC analysis should indicate if you’re Magnesium deficient.Even without the tests, if you have A-Fib you can take for granted that you need more Magnesium.

Carolyn Dean-R The Best Way to Supplement Mg 100sq at 96 res

Carolyn Dean, MD

 VIDEO 1: The Best Way to Supplement Magnesium” with Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, talks about supplementing magnesium, assuming that most people don’t have diets that can supply enough.(3:04) Published on Aug 16, 2012 by iHealthTube.com.

Foods highest in magnesium content are:

• Green vegetables (dark leafy greens)
• Whole grain cereals (bran breakfast cereal), quinoa
• Nuts, seeds (almonds, cashews)
• Beans
• Seafood (halibut, mackerel)
• Soy
• Brown Rice
• Avocados
• Dairy

What Kind of Magnesium?

But to insure you’re getting the amount of magnesium you need, it’s often necessary to take magnesium in supplemental form, in addition to foods rich in magnesium. My recommendations of easily absorbed supplemental magnesium are:

Magnesium Glycinate: a chelated amino acid. Look for the label “Albion Minerals.” This is a patented process designed to limit bowel sensitivity. One source is “Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium (200 Mg Elemental)
Angstrom Magnesium: such as “Ancient Minerals Ultra Pure Magnesium Oil 8 oz.”

Another form is Intravenous (IV) Magnesium Sulfate. This is the fastest way to restore normal heart rhythm. It is a recognized therapy worldwide, but not generally in the U.S.9Dr. Julian Whitaker in Newport Beach, CA performs this therapy (www.drwhitaker.com).

Supplement Dosage

A recommended goal is a minimum 600 mg/day, preferably 800 mg. (For example, 200mg three times a day and 200 mg at bedtime.)

It’s prudent to start off with very low doses of oral magnesium such as 100 mg. (Excess magnesium or magnesium sensitivity can cause loose stools and diarrhea which is counterproductive, because of the loss of electrolytes.) Increase the dosage of magnesium every 4-5 days. It may take as long as six months to replenish your intracellular magnesium levels.10 Since the kidneys excrete excess magnesium, it’s rare to find cases where magnesium exceeds optimal levels, with the exception of people with kidney disease.

Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, recommends putting 1/2 teaspoon of ReMag in 500 ml of bottled water and just “sipping” on the mixture throughout the day. That way you get supplemental magnesium at lower levels throughout the day with less danger of loose stools, diarrhea, and losing electrolytes. (Thanks to Frances Koepnick for this tip.)

Alternatives to Oral Magnesium

If oral magnesium causes bowel sensitivity, an alternative (or an additional source of magnesium) is Magnesium Oil which is applied to the skin and over the heart.

An example is Ancient Minerals Ultra Pure Magnesium Oil which is odorless. (One method is to apply a drop the size of a quarter to the inner arm fold opposite and above the elbow, then wash off in 20 minutes.)

Another alternative treatment is Epsom Salts Baths—soak for 20 minutes in a bath with 2 cups of Epsom Salts (any brand will do). (Epsom Salt Baths can also cause loose stools.) See Personal Experiences: Epsom Salts Cure. You can also make an Epsom Salts spray—one part Epsom Salts to one part water. Place in a spray bottle and mist the chest. Let it dry on the skin.

See Steve’s Shopping Guide for a Healthy Heart for recommended products and brands (see all of Steve’s Shopping Guides on our sister site, BeatYourA-Fib.com)

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Calcium overload - mineral deficiencies - atrial fibrillation, A-Fib, afib

Calcium overload

 Danger of Too Much Calcium!

Too much calcium (Ca) can excite the heart cells and induce A-Fib, especially when magnesium is deficient.11

According to Dr. Andrea Natale, Executive Medical Director, Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute, ‘calcium overload’ is the primary factor in A-Fib remodeling of the heart, i.e., structural changes to the heart, including enlargement of the atria and the development of atrial fibrosis.12

Carolyn Dean - Calcium Magnesium Balance 75 pix sq at 96 res

Carolyn Dean, MD

VIDEO 2:Importance of Balancing Calcium & Magnesium“. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, discusses the importance of balancing calcium and magnesium supplementation. She looks at the benefits of both and why you need to have both in the body. (2:30) Posted 11/15/2010 by iHealthTube.com.

A-Fib patients may need to stop or lower significantly their calcium supplements and increase magnesium.13 Aim for a ratio of one part Calcium to two or more parts Magnesium. It’s good to keep track of how much Calcium you are taking in daily, so that you can be sure to take in more Magnesium than Calcium.

A serum calcium test in the 8.6-10.2 mg/dl is considered normal, but one/half of the calcium in blood is attached to proteins (like albumin). A more accurate calcium blood test looks at “ionized calcium” which is calcium not attached to proteins.14 But this is a specialized test and probably isn’t necessary for most people.

Potassium - common deficiencies for Atrial Fibrillation, A-Fib, afib

Potassium

 Potassium

Potassium (K+) is often the second key nutrient A-Fibbers may be deficient in. In fact, magnesium depletion can lead to potassium depletion.15 Low magnesium leads to low tissue potassium, since magnesium is needed for potassium transport into tissue.

Potassium is essential for normal nerve and muscle function and is very important in maintaining normal cardiac function. Potassium helps prevent A-Fib by prolonging the refractory period—the time when the heart is resting between beats. (During this rest period the heart can’t be stimulated to contract, thus leaving the heart in normal sinus rhythm.) When potassium levels are too low, heart cells become unusually excitable, often leading to premature contractions and/or A-Fib.16

Sources of Potassium

Foods rich in Potassium include:

• Beans (White Beans)
• Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach, Chad, Kale, Collards)
• Baked Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes (with skin)
• Dried Apricots
• Yogurt (plain, skim/non-fat)
• Seafood (salmon, pompano, halibut)
• Bananas
• Avocados

But to insure you’re getting the amount of potassium you need, it’s often necessary to take potassium in supplemental form, in addition to foods rich in potassium. Here’s my potassium recommendations.

Supplements Dosage

The recommended dosage is 1600-2400 mg/day. While potassium is available in tablets, the 99 mg maximum FDA dosage makes them impracticable requiring 16+ tablets a day. (Beware: some brands offer 540mg tablets, but the actual dose of Potassium Gluconate is only 90 or 99 mg per tablet.) 

Therefore we recommend the powder form. Our favorite is “Now Foods Potassium Gluconate Pure Powder“. Take a total of 3-4 teaspoons a day in juice and divided between 3 meals (approximately 540 mg per teaspoon). You can also consider Potassium Citrate powder using up to 3 teaspoons a day in juice and also divided between 3 meals (approximately 1g per teaspoon). Either form is acceptable. (FYI: Gluconate is neutral PH and Citrate is alkaline, i.e. easier for an acidy stomach.)

As with magnesium, start off low, one teaspoon/day, and increase the dosage every 4-5 days. The goal is to keep the serum blood potassium level at 4.5 but under 5.017A word of caution—adding too much potassium too soon will make A-Fib worse, not better.18 Too much potassium in blood plasma makes the cardiac cells depolarized and unexcitable, leading to spontaneous activity in other areas of the heart such as the Pulmonary Vein openings.19

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Vitamin D3 - common deficiencies - Atrial fibrillarion, A-Fib, afib

Vitamin D3

 Vitamin D

If you don’t spend much time in the sun or always cover your skin (sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production), you’re probably deficient in Vitamin D. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight, and occurs naturally in small amounts in a few foods including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks.

A 2009 study estimated as many as 77 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient.20 Excessive Vitamin D is rare and is not caused by excessive exposure to the sun, or foods containing Vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency contributes to the development of both A-Fib and Dementia. (See Boston AF 2011: A-Fib and Dementia by Dr. T. Jared Bunch.) Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. A deficiency in vitamin D can cause an imbalance in Magnesium and Calcium, and contribute to heart palpitations.21

 As many as 77 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient.

Testing for Vitamin D deficiency

Ask your doctor for a “25-hydroxy Vitamin D Test” or use an in-home Vitamin D test available from the Vitamin D Council.22 Vitamin D deficiency is defined as a blood 25(OH)D level below 20 ng/dL. Normal levels are considered to be above 30 ng/dL.23

Supplements Dosage

Vitamin D from sun exposure: 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen.24 Vitamin D is found in supplements (and fortified foods) in two different forms: D2 and D3—both increase vitamin D in the blood. The RDA for adults is 600IU and 800IU for seniors (mostly from sun exposure).

For adults who aren’t getting vitamin D from the sun, the recommended supplement is: 200 IU of vitamin D a day for adults under 50 and 400 IU for adults 50 to 70 years of age. Many doctors are advising their patients to take much higher amounts, such as 1,000 I.U. a day.

Monitoring

You should retest after three months of supplementation. The dose of vitamin D may need to be adjusted based on the test results.

 Additional readings

• Frequently Asked Questions: Mineral Deficiencies & Supplements 
• ‘Natural’ Supplements for a Healthy Heart
• Alternative Remedies and Tips
• Acupuncture Helps A-Fib—Specific Acupuncture Sites Identified
• Low Serum Magnesium Linked with A-Fib

Unfortunately a great number of physicians are not well versed in recommending or supervising nutritional support and quite often, will dismiss your inquiries about nutritional supplements.

Last updated: Sunday, September 13, 2015

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Return to Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation

References    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Cardiovascular Disease Comprehensive 8 – Therapeutic C. Life Extension Vitamins. Last accessed Jan 6, 2013 URL: http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/cadico8thc.html, and No Deaths From Vitamins: America’s Largest Database Confirms Supplement Safety. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Press Release, December 28, 2011; Last accessed April 1, 2013. URL: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n16.shtml
  2. Burgess, Jackie. “The Strategy – What Metabolic Cardiology Means to Afibbers,” July 2010, p. 3. http://www.afibbers.org/resources/magnesiumabsorption.pdf
  3. Life Extension magazine reports: “On October 17, 2005, the FDA banned information about cherries’ health benefits from appearing on websites. The FDA sent warning letters to 29 companies that market cherry products. In those letters, the FDA ordered the companies to stop publicizing scientific data about cherries. According to the FDA, when cherry companies disseminate this information, the cherries become unapproved drugs subject to seizure. The FDA warns that “if those involved in cherry trafficking continue to inform customers about these scientific studies, criminal prosecutions will ensue.” Rowen, Robert Jay Second Opinion. Vol.XXIV, No. 6, June 2014.
  4. Knox, Kerri. FACT (moderator@gordonresearch.com). Atrial Fibrillation responses. A2: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/atrial-fibrillation-cause.html
  5. Burgess, Jackie. “The Strategy – What Metabolic Cardiology Means to Afibbers,” July 2010, P.5. http://www.afibbers.org/resources/magnesiumabsorption.pdf
  6. Goodman, Dennis. This Mineral Prevents Headaches, Heart Disease, More. Bottom Line Personal. Volume 35, Number 2, January 15, 2014.
  7. Davis, William. “Is Your Bottled Water Killing You?” Life Extension Magazine, February 2007. http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007/feb2007_report_water_02.htm
  8. Goodman ibid.
  9. Whitaker, Julian. Health and Healing, March 2011, Vol.21, No. 3, P. 3.
  10. Burgess, Jackie. FACT (moderator@gordonresearch.com). Atrial Fibrillation responses. A1: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/atrial-fibrillation-cause.html 193 Berkelhammer, C, Baer, RA “A clinical approach to common electrolyte problems:*4. Hypomagnesemia” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1345822
  11. Burgess, Jackie. FACT (moderator@gordonresearch.com). Atrial Fibrillation responses. A1: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/atrial-fibrillation-cause.html
  12. Natale, Andrea and Jalife, “Atrial Fibrillation: From Bench to Bedside,” Pp. 103-4. http://tinyurl.com/29sclh3
  13. Burgess, Jackie. “The Strategy – What Metabolic Cardiology Means to Afibbers,” July, 2010, p. 12. http://www.afibbers.org/resources/magnesiumabsorption.pdf
  14. Medline Plus. Calcium Blood Test. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003477.htm
  15. Berkelhammer, C, Baer, RA “A clinical approach to common electrolyte problems:*4. Hypomagnesemia” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1345822
  16. Van Wagoner, David R. J Mol Cell Cardiol 32, 1763-66 (2000) doi: 1006/jmcc.2000. 1224.
  17. Burgess, Jackie. FACT (moderator@gordonresearch.com). Atrial Fibrillation responses. A1: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/atrial-fibrillation-cause.html
  18. ibid.
  19. Van Wagoner, David R. J Mol Cell Cardiol 32, 1763-66 (2000) doi: 1006/jmcc.2000. 1224.
  20. Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Heart Palpitations?  Livestrong.com.  Retrieved  October 25, 2012. URL: http://www.livestrong.com/article/508611-can-vitamin-d-deficiency-cause-heart-palpitations/#ixzz25lPz7ame
  21. Vitamin D Deficiency, WebMD.Retrieved  October 25, 2012. URL: http://www.webmd.com/diet/vitamin-d-deficiency
  22. In-home vitamin D test from the Vitamin D Council. Retrieved  October 25, 2012. URL: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/testing-for-vitamin-d/
  23. Vitamin D Deficiency, WebMD.Retrieved  October 25, 2012. URL: http://www.webmd.com/diet/vitamin-d-deficiency
  24. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D, U.S.Office of Dietary Supplements, the National  Institutes of Health. Retrieved  October 25, 2012. URL: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

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