What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Have you ever felt your heart skip a beat? Though this sensation can give you some cause for concern, it’s normal if it happens infrequently. However, symptom shows a condition called atrial fibrillation. Also known as A-fib or AF, atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that occurs from abnormal heart contraction, resulting in impaired circulation and various cardiovascular difficulties. Some people might feel fluttering in the chest that builds to the heart-pounding, upset stomach, and lack of energy or fatigue, whereas others may not feel any symptoms at all. (x)
Why Atrial Fibrillation is Dangerous
If you have atrial fibrillation, get medical attention as you are at risk for certain health conditions. According to the American Heart Association, you have twice the risk of heart-related death and a five-times increased risk of stroke if you have untreated A-fib. (x) It might be hard to imagine that your A-fib could be so lethal, especially if you look and feel great otherwise.
Try not to get your heart pounding. But it would help if you educated yourself about your health. Some people may live years with A-fib with no problems. (x) The key is for you to recognize the symptoms so you can work with your doctor for the treatment. Part of that treatment is changing your lifestyle, relieving and deducing your stress while lowering inflammation and improving your diet.
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
It may challenge to diagnose atrial fibrillation if you don’t have any symptoms. However, you may experience:
Being tired more than usual could be a symptom of atrial fibrillation. One study found that people over the age of 65 were more likely to report fatigue as a symptom of atrial fibrillation. (x) Scientists theorize that as you age, you may depend more on your heart’s upper chambers to fill the lower chambers more in between beats. Because A-fib disrupts the rhythm of your heartbeat, this filling between each heartbeat becomes less effective. Plus, your system must work harder than usual.
If you have atrial fibrillation, you may experience feeling dizzy or fainting. The medical term for fainting is syncope. Your heart is not pumping as effectively in A-fib. (x) Because blood isn’t flowing well to your brain because of that, you end up feeling faint. Other reasons you may feel dizzy are because when you have atrial fibrillation, your heart beats either too slow or too fast. (x)
You may feel chest pain, heart palpitations, or your heart feels like “it’s going to explode.” Palpitations mean your heart is skipping a beat or beating “funny.” One study found that younger people under 65 reported chest pain more frequently, though it’s unclear why. (x) Younger people with atrial fibrillation have more rapid heart rates than older patients, explaining this age correlation. (x)
Shortness of Breath
Feeling like you can’t breathe could also be because of atrial fibrillation. People over the age of 65 are more likely to report this symptom (x) potentially due to the same reasons they may also feel more tired. Older people rely more on the resting period between heartbeats to fill the heart with blood for effective pumping. When this period of rest is shorter because of A-fib, your heart fills inadequately, your blood doesn’t circulate, and you can feel short of breath.
Other symptoms or signs of atrial fibrillation include getting tired more quickly and a vague sense that something is “wrong.” (x) Many people will not have any symptoms to alert them to something amiss. One study found that women were more likely to experience symptoms than men. (x) Usually, silent cases of A-fib come to light accidentally during routine evaluations for other health conditions. (x) A health technician may find that you have an irregular or fast heart rate, or your doctor may discover it during a routine physical.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you experience any of the above warning signs of atrial fibrillation, you must seek medical attention. As there are health risks associated with atrial fibrillation, get tested by your doctor as soon as possible. Many factors contribute to the development of atrial fibrillation. If you have other chronic medical conditions or had recent heart surgery, you have a good chance of being at higher risk.
Causes of Atrial Fibrillation
Are you at risk for atrial fibrillation? Many reasons may contribute to why your heart beats abnormally. (x) Atrial fibrillation is the dysfunctional pumping in the upper chambers of the heart. (x) Some people may have abnormal changes to the structure of their heart, while others have medical conditions that put them at higher risk.
Abnormal Heart Structure
If the shape and strength of the upper chambers of the heart are abnormal, they may not work correctly. Sometimes of A-fib, the irregular rhythm arises from structural issues. Certain conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart failure, can damage the heart tissues, causing enlargement of the chambers. (x) The damage this does to the heart muscle causes scar tissue to form, making your heartless flexible and doesn’t pump. (x) Abnormally large heart chambers are like giant balloons that cannot squeeze all the air out. Inadequate pumping can then lead to irregular heartbeats as the heart tries to compensate for its declining function.
High Blood Pressure
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (x) approximately 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure or take medications to treat high blood pressure, you could develop atrial fibrillation. (x,x) As discussed above, high blood pressure puts a strain on your heart chambers, which can lead to an enlarged heart and scar tissue in the heart muscle tissues. (x) Both changes affect your heart’s structure, causing it to pump less leading to the development of irregular heartbeats. (x) It’s no wonder why high blood pressure is the most common medical problem shared by people who have atrial fibrillation. (x)
Previous Heart Surgery
Whenever you have heart surgery, the surgeon will inevitably change the structure of your heart. Because of that inherent risk, heart surgery may increase your risk of developing atrial fibrillation. (x) Besides having surgical modifications to your heart physically, the inflammation that ensues after the operation and other pre-existing medical conditions all contribute to your risk. (x) Many changes after surgery may cause a dysfunctional heart that leads to A-fib. (x)
Ever hear your partner complain that you snore too loudly at night or even stop breathing? Though it may seem innocent, sleep apnea can increase your risk for various severe health problems, such as A-fib. (x) A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, (x) sleep apnea increased the risk of developing A-fib.
There are many other medical conditions associated with the development of atrial fibrillation besides the cases mentioned above. These include a blood clot in the lungs, heart disease, thyroid problems, and medication side effects, to name a few. These causes affect the physical structure and electrical signaling that drives your heart to pump blood. Other factors associated with increased risk include having chronic health conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease and obesity. (x, x, x)
Atrial Fibrillation Remedies and Supplements
If you have A-fib, it’s essential to get treatment as soon as possible. Staying up to date with your doctor appointments and taking your medications on time is very important for managing atrial fibrillation. Besides antiarrhythmic medicines that treat your irregular heartbeat, there are a few homeopathic remedies you can try to help prevent and treat A-fib.
Taurine, a natural metabolite in your body, is a natural ingredient found in meats and fish. (x) It’s an amino acid, which is a component that makes up proteins (x). It’s believed that taurine can help treat various medical conditions, such as HTN, ischemic heart disease, and atherosclerosis. (x) It has a supplement in cystic fibrosis too. (x) Reportedly, taurine is an alternative remedy to treat and prevent atrial fibrillation. Though the mechanism appears tough to understand, Chinese researchers found that taurine interfered with the electrical and physical changes of the heart associated with atrial fibrillation in rats. (x, x) Other scientists point to the antioxidant effects of taurine, preventing scarring and promoting stronger heartbeats. (x)
The National Institute of Health cautions women who are pregnant or nursing to not use taurine. (x) Besides, if you have heart failure, only use taurine under direct medical supervision. While there is no limit determined how much taurine you can take safely, (x) some researchers have suggested a safe level of maximum 3g per day. Healthy adults can start with 500mg per day, then increase to twice a day. (x) Taurine comes as a purified supplement or in energy drinks. So far, there have been no side effects observed in daily taurine supplementation. However, it’s advised to interact with drugs that can metabolize by the liver. As always, check with your doctor before starting any new supplement.
Another supplement naturally found in your body is coenzyme Q10, or also called COQ10. (x) This substance is an antioxidant that helps your cells grow and stay healthy. (x) The component also comes from grains, fish, and meat. The levels of COQ10 decline as your body ages. (x) People with heart disease also have lower levels of Coenzyme Q10. (x) Researchers recently performed a small study that suggests its benefit in preventing atrial fibrillation in heart failure patients. (x) Coenzyme Q10 may also have antioxidant effects that help promote heart health, preventing heart disease and improving outcomes after heart surgery. (x)
You can take between 50 to 200mg of coenzyme Q10 every day (x). There are no serious adverse effects reported with coenzyme Q10 supplementation (x). Because we don’t know the safety profile, it’s recommended to avoid this supplement if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Side effects are mild, and you could experience stomach upset, diarrhea, rash, insomnia, and dizziness. Coenzyme Q10 may interact with your medications. Ask your doctor about taking this supplement with any of your medications. (x) It’s always important to consult with your doctor about taking COQ10, especially if you have other medical conditions.
It’s unclear whether exercise can help with atrial fibrillation, but some studies suggest that light to moderate exercise could help. Though strenuous exercise may put you at a higher risk of developing an irregular heartbeat, light activities like walking may lower the risk. If you have atrial fibrillation, it’s best to avoid high-intensity training. (x) However, a carefully tailored exercise regimen could help manage your heart condition. One study found a benefit to patients if they performed aerobic exercise for up to only 85% of their peak heart rate for 200 minutes each week. (x) As more studies report the benefit of exercising, doctors seem hopeful that specific lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and exercise, can help people with A-fib.
Where to Buy Taurine and Coenzyme Q10?
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The Bottom Line
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition where your heart is beating in an abnormal rhythm. Having atrial fibrillation can put you at risk of severe health conditions, such as stroke and heart attack. You may not notice any symptoms of A-fib, but warning signs can include feeling faint, dizzy, palpitations, and chest pain. Some people may also have difficulty breathing. Many factors contribute to your risk of developing A-fib, including other medical conditions, prescribed medications, or previous heart surgery. If you have A-fib, it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice. Homeopathic remedies available include supplements like taurine and coenzyme Q10, which are substances naturally found in our bodies. Studies support moderate exercise is beneficial if maintaining a lower-intensity regimen. As always, make sure you talk to your doctor about alternative therapies before you try them.
The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.