I had a congenital arrhythmia called Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW) since I was a young child. The condition was diagnosed by my family doctor when I was 10 years old. WPW caused irregular and rapid heart beat in response to caffeine, alcohol and sometimes heavy exercise and dehydration. Sometimes the irregular heartbeat just happened spontaneously for no apparent reason.
My episodes of rapid heartbeat were relatively infrequent, maybe a couple of times per year. When they occurred, however, they were quite troubling and sometimes lasted for a few days. I would be be anxious and weak during these periods. At one point I became concerned enough to get a referral from my cardiologist to a cardiologist that specialized in the electrical problems of the heart.
This physician recommended that I have an ablation procedure done, which would destroy the congenital extra nerve path in my heart that was causing the arrhythmia. After much consideration, I decided not to have the procedure. I was concerned about the risks. Also, although the episodes of rapid heartbeat were troubling, they rarely impacted negatively on my lifestyle for more that one to a few days. So, I decided to live with the condition. I had been told by physicians that the condition was rarely life threatening.
I am now 66. For the past few years, physicians have not been able to detect the WPW on my electrocardiograms. Although the WPW disappeared, what seemed to take its place were PACs (premature atrial contractions), which became a constant companion. PACs feel like extra beats. My doctor told me that this irregular heartbeat condition is usually not serious. He had no special cure and told me I would have to live with this condition. He said this was a common arrhythmia and that there was no known cure. Many people he said have this condition without being aware of it.
For many years, I struggled with the question of whether my arrhythmia were really congenital, or whether they were caused by other factors in my environment. I had a high stress job. I am now retired. It never occurred to me that arrhythmia might be a function of lifestyle. It did occur to me that my high stress job might be a factor. I have been a lacto/ova vegetarian for over 20 years and started a low fat vegan diet 1 1/2 years ago.
Last December I had a bad accident while riding my bike in the mountains of north Georgia. I had major surgery to repair a shattered femur and a broken hip. The recovery period was long and very stressful. During this period my arrhythmia got worse. I was not sleeping well and I worried constantly about whether I would fully recover.
I decided to see a Cardiologist. On the first visit he did an EKG and said I had PACs and rapid heartbeat. He offered the option of a Beta Blocker, but did not push them to hard. During the second visit he said the the EKG showed Atrial Fibrillation and suggested more strongly that I begin the Beta Blockers. I started the medication and also took 1 baby aspirin per day to prevent possible blood clotting and a potential stroke that is sometimes associated with Atrial Fibrillation.
On my third visit to the Cardiologist, he took another EKG and could not detect the Atrial Fibrillation. He wanted me to stay on the medicine and come back in six weeks to start a Holter Monitor. The Monitor was to check my heart rhythms for an extended period of time.
I decided to not return to the Cardiologist, but rather see whether the heart rhythm issue resolved after my leg healed and my stress level was reduced. I also made further changes to my diet. Dr. Fuhrman, in response to my question on his website, said that upping my daily DHA intake and regularly consuming nuts and seeds might help the heartbeat problem.
I started Dr. Fuhrman's program, Eat to Live, a high nutrition, plant-based diet, including taking a daily dose of DHA Purity (a natural form of pure DHA from plant sources), 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds and 3-5 ounces of raw nuts and seeds. I also made a concerted effort to reduce stress and get at least 8 - 9 hours sleep every night. As my leg healed, it became easier for me to get a good night's sleep. After about 2-3 weeks on the ETL program, my arrhythmia completely disappeared and I stopped the Beta Blocker medication. I cannot sense any PACs or other irregularities. I am not sure which of these steps had the most impact on my now nearly 6 months of completely regular heartbeats but I have religiously kept to this regimen:
< Dr. Fuhrman's vegan Eat to Live program. (See the link on the right side of this page)
< Cut salt intake - I eat no processed foods (most come packaged with lots of salt) and add no salt to my food. I only get salt that occurs naturally in whole foods. Dr. F. says salt intake is related to arrhythmia. My average salt intake is < 1000 mg/day. I can't prove it, but it seems to me that significantly reducing salt has been a big factor in my relief from irregular heartbeat.
< Exercise regularly with a mix of cardio and strength workouts throughout the week. Usually work out 5 days per week.
< 4-5 ounces of raw nuts and seeds daily in addition to 1 ml of DHA Purity and 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds. This healthy fat helps fight arrythmia.
< 10 minutes of meditation per day to reduce stress levels. I do deep diaphragm breathing right before going to bed at night and it seems to help me fall asleep. I can't prove it but I think the ETL diet program aids deep sleep. At least I know I sleep much better since starting the program.
< I consume no caffeine or alcohol. Throughout my life I have found these to be very bad for arrhythmia.
< I never use cold medicines and always inquire about whether any Rx drug is related to irregular heartbeat. Apparently some (perhaps many) are.
The formula has worked beautifully for me over the past several months. Again, I am not sure whether the changes in my diet, the reduction in stress, my healed leg/hip, or other factors are primarily responsible for my lack of arrhythmia. I am also aware that they might return. But, I do not remember a period when I have had such a long stretch of normal heart rhythms. I am hopeful the irregular heartbeats will never return.