Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Magnesium for a Heart Beating a Little Too Fast

Early last Saturday morning (maybe 3:30 am), I woke up with my heart beating too fast. I woke up and measured my pulse at 186 beats per minute! Interestingly enough, I didn't have anything in particular pressing on me emotionally (in fact, I went to bed in a great mood). The last time this had happened was the first year I was in Copenhagen.  I was jet-lagged and sleepless (a kind of stress) and after using coffee to "get on time zone," I was enjoying a glass of red wine to help me sleep, all while adjusting to splitting time between the USA and a new country (another kind of stress altogether). It turned out to be a perfect cocktail for a racing heart. 

When I did my research the first time, almost all the references pointed to insufficient magnesium (which makes muscles relax) as contributing directly to arrhythmias. I learned that magnesium levels in your blood stream can test out as totally "normal" while tissue concentrations of magnesium are still clinically deficient. Magnesium depletion then leads to potassium depletion, and electrical circuits in the heart start to malfunction due to imbalances in electrolytes

Supplemental magnesium, as it turns out, is central in  treating various arrhythmias (since 1935 magnesium has been part of good clinical treatments). 

Beyond magnesium, I have long known that the heart requires coenzyme Q-10 to maintain muscle tone, and yet, with positive annual exams each year and no known troubles, I had never gotten in the habit of taking CoQ-10, which, I recently read helps about 75% of people with heart palpitations. 

So, last Saturday morning, I took 1200 mg of magnesium, 300 mg of CoQ-10, and started doing some deep breathing. Within about a half hour, my rapid pulse subsided into the comfortable 80s; and within an hour or so, my pulse was back down to 67-69 beats per minute (I know because I took my pulse repeatedly, checking and checking again using Azumio's heart rate monitor on my iPhone). 

Now, I'm back to taking magnesium each day (400-1000 mg) and CoQ-10 (150 mg softgel), along with a fistful of other things. My Kaiser Permanente doctor was encouraging today, saying all sounded normal with my heart (I felt this would be the case but still..."yay!"). She thought my prevention routine seemed appropriate (such a relief to have an osteopathic physician, who is both more informed on and open to natural treatments). 

Meanwhile, over the weekend, I did more research on arrhythmias and learned a few new things that are supposed to help, including:
  • Splashing really cold water on the face -- Apparently, sea lions and humans share a little nervous system trick when it comes to jumping into freezing waters--the cold tells the body to slow the heart rate down. You can press a cold cloth or a package of frozen vegetables to your face to slow things down too. Pretty cool, eh?!
  • Adding citrus oils in bathwater -- Some believe that a few drops of Neroli Oil in a cool bath are can help calm one's mood as well as minor heart palpitations.
  • Practicing the "vagal maneuver" -- This is when you sit down, bend forward at the waist, hold your breath and strain (pilots takk about the "valsalva maneuver"). Vagal maneuvers can easily be learned (ask your doctor or health care practitioner) but aren't right for everyone (again, ask your doctor). 
  • Reducing intake of caffeine, salt and saturated fats -- Big sigh here. I have to say, I love chocolate and coffee and am often quite tempted by salty foods. These foods can overstimulate and /or dehydrate. Caffeine and salt along with saturated fats (such as in meats, butter, and dairy products) also reduce magnesium stores in the body, so beware of these fun foods and dehydration too if you are prone to a racing heart!
  • Avoiding alcohol, especially red wine -- Many people report racing hearts after drinking wine and other alcohols. If you're trying to drop a few pounds (like I am), dropping the "drinks" part of socializing will help with your spring weight loss commitments as well as heart health. 
Caution: I share what I learn as I experiment with natural treatments for myself. Some might call me foolish for treating myself (I feel I can read my own body and was dressed and ready to go in to the ER if my pulse had not quieted down when it did). There are seriously life-threatening types of arrhythmiasIf  you feel dizzy or weak or any kind of pain, call your doctor immediately, as you could have some much more serious heart problems that need immediate professional attention.  


T. D. Thompson said...

Your 2d link is not working!
You're talking to the choir, Cindy, because I've had sudden 120 bpm rates since I had an MD test me in 2000 after 3 years of angina that I was in denial about. I since began with Coop.
(This small box doesn't allow me to go into detail.)
I coped with it OK. I since began eating pure, dark, chocolate a few years ago, and it seems to help me.
I can explain some reasons for the rate when I talk with you.

Cindy Marteney, CEO, Our Health Co-op said...

David, I look forward to speaking with you on Monday. I have always valued your perspectives. Not sure which link is not working. Will figure that out. :-) All my best, Cindy