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Posted March 5, 2013: by Bill Sardi
Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is a condition described as intermittent heart palpitations of varying duration of the top pumping chambers (atria) of the heart. It may progress to persistent heart flutter. Upon detection, physicians will place patients on blood thinners to prevent blood clots that form within the heart and then are released into the brain where they may cause a stroke.
This health writer has endured a two-week bout of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation of unknown origin. This biological malady should be distinguished from “old man’s heart” where scarred tissue results in chronic and unremitting atrial fibrillation. Symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath upon exertion, leg swelling, interrupted sleep, lightheadedness, even fainting spells.
After having avoided known triggers such as wine or coffee, and having supplemented my diet with DHA-rich fish oil and sulfur molecules (garlic, NAC, taurine), with no success, I began to re-review other nutritional and dietary links to this problem.
I read of a case reported in the journal Geriatrics in 1990 where a 77-year old woman who had been unsuccessfully treated with drugs for 5 years for chronic atrial fibrillation and started taking vitamin D pills. She stopped experiencing episodes of atrial fibrillation. At last report she had remained without symptoms for 2 years.
Published reports on vitamin D and atrial fibrillation are mixed, probably due to the published literature not recognizing there are two forms of AF. Some reports say frank vitamin D deficiency is not associated with atrial fibrillation, but that doesn’t answer whether higher blood levels of vitamin D will resolve this problem. So sometimes the published science can lead you away from may be a cure.
From the first day when I started taking higher-dose vitamin D (I was already supplementing 4000 IU daily), my fluttering heart chambers relaxed within an hour and palpitations have not returned. I took 60,000 IU vitamin D the first day, 25,000 IU the second day and continued that for a few days.
The medical literature points to intravenous magnesium being just as effective as drugs in resolving paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, but we need to recognize that vitamin D is required for proper utilization of magnesium.
This ordeal may be antagonized vitamin A supplementation (cod liver oil) as vitamin A competes with vitamin D storage in the liver. — © 2013 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.
Upon further exploration of the medical literature I read where heart palpitations (atrial fibrillation) commonly occurs following heart bypass surgery and this is linked to low zinc levels in the postoperative period. Patients whose zinc levels are slow to be restored to normal levels experience the problem. So I supplemented with zinc (10-25 mg, Optizinc) and experienced a long-term abolishment of irritability in the top chambers (atria) of my heart. I subsequently recommended zinc to two other men with atrial fibrillation with dramatic results. Zinc deficiency is widespread. To confirm that zinc was responsible for remission of heart palpitations I also found that my sensitivity to chocolate, where even the smallest amount would induce an eruption of a herpes lip sore, was now gone. Zinc is also involved in the immune response. To learn more about zinc and types of zinc supplements, read my report here.
Biological Trace Element Research 2012 Aug;148(2):148-53.
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Changhai Hospital, Second Military Medical University, 168 Changhai Road, Shanghai 200433, China.
Atrial fibrillation is the most frequently encountered arrhythmia following cardiac surgery. Since the essential trace elements zinc, copper, and magnesium are suspected to have an effect on postoperative atrial fibrillation, the concentrations of these elements were determined by flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry in the plasma of 60 patients undergoing elective coronary artery bypass grafting. Blood samples were collected every 30 min during cardiopulmonary bypass and postoperatively. Plasma concentrations of copper, zinc, and magnesium were measured with flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry. All patients were monitored by continuous electrocardiography until they became outpatients or immediately after atrial fibrillation had taken place. Atrial fibrillation occurred in 13 of the 60 patients, corresponding to 21.7%. The zinc and copper concentrations at postoperative days 1 and 3 were significantly different (P < 0.05) between patients with and without atrial fibrillation. The concentrations of zincfollowing cardiopulmonary bypass recovered more slowly in patients with postoperative atrial fibrillation than in patients without it. Whether or not supplemental zinc could lower the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation should be evaluated in future prospective randomized clinical trials. PMID: 22351155
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