What are Arrhythmias?
Arrhythmias are irregularities in heart rate or rhythm. They are caused when the electrical signaling in the heart is disrupted. Arrhythmias often occur in people with underlying heart disease; however, even healthy hearts can experience an abnormal rate or rhythm. Some arrhythmias are life-threatening, while others are not directly life-threatening, but can increase the likelihood of a stroke.
“Arrhythmia” is a term that encompasses all kinds of irregularities; they can be classified by whether they slow or speed the heart rate, and which area of the heart is affected. There are many kinds of arrhythmias and they can each require different treatments.
Natural interventions such as magnesium and coenzyme Q10 may support heart health and reduce the risk of arrhythmias.
What are the Risk Factors for Arrhythmias?
- Underlying heart conditions, including:
- Coronary artery disease
- Congestive heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Smoking and alcohol abuse
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Using stimulants (eg, coffee, certain medications, and drugs like methamphetamine)
- Participating in performance sports (ie, athletes)
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Arrhythmias?
Note: Many people with arrhythmias do not experience any symptoms. For those who do, symptoms may include:
- Racing or pounding heart
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- Reduced capacity for exercise
What are Conventional Medical Treatments for Arrhythmias?
Note: Treatment options will vary depending on the type of arrhythmia. A doctor experienced in managing arrhythmias can determine the best course of treatment.
- Vagal maneuvers
- Medications such as sodium-, potassium-, or calcium channel blockers
- Ablation therapy
- Implantable devices such as pacemakers
- Surgery (for serious cases that do not respond to other treatments)
What Dietary and Lifestyle Changes Can be Beneficial for Arrhythmias?
- Follow a heart-healthy diet (eg, Mediterranean diet)
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Quit smoking
- Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake
- Reduce stress
What Natural Interventions Can be Beneficial for Arrhythmias?
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with lower risk of certain arrhythmias. They offer other cardioprotective benefits as well.
- Magnesium. Magnesium is essential for proper heart function. Symptoms of different arrhythmias can be improved with oral magnesium administration.
- Potassium. Alterations in serum potassium levels can contribute to the development of arrhythmias. Treatment with intravenous magnesium and potassium may restore normal heart rhythm.
- Hawthorn. Hawthorn may play a supportive role in cardiovascular health due to several mechanisms, including modulating ion channels. A clinical trial demonstrated hawthorn’s ability to improve heart function and reduce related symptoms.
- N-acetylcysteine. N-acetylcysteine is an antioxidant that may reduce the incidence of post-operative atrial fibrillation (a type of arrhythmia).
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 has been shown to exert therapeutic effects in various cardiac conditions. In patients who had heart attacks, CoQ10 supplementation lowered the occurrence of arrhythmias and improved antioxidant levels.
- Other natural interventions include vitamins C and E, rhodiola, and resveratrol.