Abnormal Heart Rhythm (Bradycardia)

An arrhythmia is a disorder of the heart rate (pulse) or heart rhythm, such as beating too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregularly. One of the most common is abnormally slow heartbeats, a condition known as bradycardia. Learn how to heal this condition naturally.For most people, a normal resting heart rate is considered to be between 60 to 100 beats a minute; anything less than this may be considered bradycardia.

A slow heart rate is perfectly normal, and even a sign of good physical fitness. Healthy young adults and athletes often have resting heart rates of less than 60 beats per minute. This occurs because high-intensity training makes the heart muscle very powerful, able to pump more blood with each contraction, making fewer contractions necessary.

Slow heart rates may also indicate heart disease. Some people have a slow rate because of a problem within the heart’s electrical system when the electrical pathways of the heart are disrupted.

In severe forms of bradycardia, the heart can beat so slowly that it doesn’t supply enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can be life-threatening and often requires a pacemaker. A pacemaker is a medical device implanted in the chest that stimulates heart contractions via small electrical impulses. The purpose of a pacemaker is to maintain a regular heartbeat so that adequate oxygen is supplied to the body.

Symptoms

Some people with bradycardia have no symptoms, or their symptoms are so mild that they attribute them to the normal process of aging. Heartbeat must usually fall below 50 beats per minute to show symptoms. An inappropriately slow heart rate results in insufficient blood flow to organs and tissues, which can lead to organ failure. Poor blood supply to the brain may cause a feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness, confusion, forgetfulness, poor memory and trouble concentrating. Fainting can happen is a slow heart rate causes one’s blood pressure to drop.

Inadequate blood supply to muscles may lead to feeling short of breath, with decreased exercise tolerance, increased fatigue, cramping or muscle pain. Feeling one’s heart pounding or fluttering, as in heart palpitations, can also be a sign of bradycardia.

Determine your heart rate by taking your pulse. Place two fingers at the base of your neck (just under the chin or on the underside of the wrist, below the base of the thumb). Count the number of beats in a minute. If your heartbeat is slow (less than 60 — about one beat per second talk to your doctor.

Causes

Bradycardia can be caused by:

  • Changes in the heart as a result of aging. Older patients tend to have medical problems that can cause slow heartbeats.
  • Diseases that damage the heart’s electrical system. These include coronary artery disease, heart attack, and infections such as endocarditis and myocarditis.
  • Conditions that can slow electrical impulses through the heart. Examples include having a low thyroid level (hypothyroidism) or an electrolyte imbalance, such as too much potassium in the blood.
  • Some medicines for treating heart problems or high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers, antiarrhythmics, and digoxin. These include calcium channel blockers like nifedipine (Procardia) and verapamil (Calan) used for blood pressure regulation; along with digoxin (Lanoxin), used for arrythmias and to treat heart failure. Beta-blockers, such as atenolol (Tenormin) and propanolol (Inderal), used for hypertension and following myocardial infarction to protect surviving heart tissue.
  • Heart blockages and heart failure can occur because of damage due to high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Conventional treatment

If you have no symptoms, medical treatment may not be necessary. Bradycardia can be caused by medication, which if it can be stopped may cause your slow heart rate to normalize. However, because bradycardia is usually related to problems with cardiac conduction, the only method currently available to increase heart rate is with the use of a pacemaker.

Temporary pacemakers can be used. Permanent pacemakers become necessary when bradycardia is a chronic or irreversible condition. Pacemakers can also be used to treat fainting spells (syncope), congestive heart failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and other conditions where a consistent heartrate is imperative. Pacemaker implantation is a simple outpatient procedure.

Wendy’s Recommendations for Natural Treatment

There are so many things you can do to improve this condition. Before you resort to surgery or medication, I beg you to try and improve your health overall, namely detoxing heavy metals from your body and improving your diet. Many people simply need more magnesium, which can easily be depleted with heart medication.

Lifestyle

  • Quit Smoking. Smoking adds heavy metals and carcinogens to your body with every cigarette. The best program I’ve seen to quit smoking is 14andout.com.
  • Exercise. If you are in very poor health, just try to walk, if even for five minutes. You will eventually be able to walk farther and farther. But you have to start somewhere. Even though it may not feel good, it is good for your heart.
  • Relaxation. Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Stress hormones, anxiety, anger and depression make the heart work harder.
  • Meditation. I recommend Holosync to facilitate meditation.

Supplements

Be sure to discuss the use of any supplement with your doctor. Your prescription drug dosages may need to be reduced or adjusted as these other measures take effect. supplements usually take a couple months to be effective.

  • Fish oil. 2–8 g daily. EPA and DHA, fish oil’s primary omega-3 fatty acids , reduce inflammation, lower blood lipids (especially triglycerides), improve blood viscosity, and normalize heart rhythms. Taking these supplements can reduce cardiovascular mortality by as much as 45 percent. Reduce the suggested amount if you eat fish three times per week.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This antioxidant improves oxygen usage at the cellular level, essential for patients with heart failure or tissue damage. CoQ10 may also help lower blood pressure. If you are on statins for high cholesterol, this antioxidant is not produced at all by the liver and can cause heart disease if not supplemented, as it is essential to protect the heart.
  • Magnesium. Because magnesium plays such a pivotal role in controlling your heart rhythm, it is imperative to supplement. Most people are deficient, especially if they are on heart or blood pressure medications, which deplete magnesium. Always take chelated magnesium. An array of magnesium supplements can be found in the Liveto110 Store.
  • Zinc. Zinc is required to give flexibility to the heart and cardiovascular system including the arteries and veins. Common deficiency symptoms include abnormal heart rhythm, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, aneurysms, strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Zinc can be found in the Liveto110 Store.
  • L-Carnitine. This amino acid is essential for health of the heart muscle.
  • Cordyceps. A medicinal mushroom that helps boost aerobic capacity and can improve the efficiency of the lungs and heart.

Food

  • Heart Healthy diet. The Modern Paleo Diet is perfect for nourishing the body and heart.
  • Eat Fish. Eat two to three servings weekly of oily fish like salmon or sardines to get omega-3’s. You want to eat smaller, non-predatory fish to avoid fish with high levels of mercury and pollutants. For more information to what kind of fish to eat, see my Seafood Survival Guide.
  • Eat Healthy Fats. Do not listen to your doctor when he tells you to eat a low-fat diet. This is deadly. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! Your body needs healthy fats! Eat raw, unpasteurized grass fed organic butter, olive oil, fish, and organic grass fed meats, which have a great omega-3 fat profile.
  • Avoid Trans Fats. These deadly fats raise cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease more than any other food. They are in almost all processed foods and ALL fast foods. If trans fats were eliminated from the food supply, heart disease would be reduced by 50%! Avoid any foods with partially hydrogenated oils or interesterified fats on the ingredient label.
  • Avoid Wheat. Wheat is known to cause inflammation and other health problems in most people, not just those with gluten sensitivity. There are typically no symptoms, unless you are gluten intolerant. Gluten is the protein in wheat. Repeated exposure to wheat accelerates glycation (a type of chemical reaction that happens when sugar molecules attack proteins or lipid fats) in the lining of your arteries, contributing to hardening. Read more about why wheat is bad for you in Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD. For more information, you can also read my article Gluten Sensitivity Affects 1 in 3. Gluten exposures can be mitigated by taking enzymes that break down gluten. I recommend Glutenza.
  • Avoid Sugar. Blood sugar must be controlled in order to have a healthy heart. This means avoiding sugar and anything else that will raise blood sugar, like most refined grains. Sugar acts like shards of glass in the arteries. It cuts the insides of the arteries, causing scar tissue. This scar tissue builds up and hardens the arteries. Sugar and other refined carbohydrates elevate insulin levels. Increased insulin levels are associated with increased cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and death from cardiovascular disease.

Alternative Treatments

detox toxic metals and heal your body, nutritional balancing

  • Mineral Power! The underlying cause of most disease and health conditions are mineral deficiency and chemical and heavy metal toxicity. Eliminating heavy metals and industrial chemicals, built up in your system over your lifetime, will no doubt help relieve bradycardia. It never ceases to amaze me the various symptoms and health conditions caused by these toxins that doctors rarely seem to address. In the process of detoxification, you will greatly increase your overall health and prevent future diseases from developing, namely cancer. I offer extensive information on this site on how to detox from heavy metals and chemicals. For more information, see my Mineral Power Program (formerly called Nutritional Balancing) .

References
1. Cloe, Adam. Magnesium and Irregular Heartbeat. May 25, 2011.
http://www.livestrong.com/article/454164-magnesium-irregular-heart-beat/
2. WebMD. Heart Disease and Abnormal Heart Rhythm.
http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-abnormal-heart-rhythm
3. Weil, Andrew, MD. Abnormal Heart Rhythm.
http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03142/Abnormal-Heart-Rhythm-Bradycardia.html

This material is for educational purposes only. The preceding statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Wendy Myers, FDN, CHHC, is a functional diagnostic nutritionist, certified holistic health coach and founder of Live to 110. Her passions include getting you healthy, Modern Paleo, retoxing and detoxing. Discover her Mineral Power Program and enjoy freedom from fatigue and brain fog with metal detox.

  • Rick Vincent

    Wendy,
    Excellent article – looking forward to your book..
    RFV