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Atrial Fibrilation

Definition, Diagnosis, and Natural Treatment

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Introduction

“If you are diagnosed with AFib, don’t panic. You can still lead a long and healthy life. There are natural solutions, and we are here to help.”

– Dr. Jack Wolfson

“The monster in my chest has a mind of its own, Doc,” he said with a nervous chuckle. “it comes and goes when it wants, overtaking my heart and flopping it all over the place like a rag doll.” Stan had a very accurate way of describing what atrial fibrillation (AFib) feels like for many people.

You may be like Stan and have skipped heartbeats, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness, or you may have no symptoms at all. Yet, a routine medical exam uncovered AFib when your practitioner felt your pulse and found it was abnormal. From here, you had an EKG/ECG test which showed underlying AFib as the reason for the irregular pulse.

Many people diagnosed with AFib are told that they just have to live with it and that nothing will help. Others have passed through a series of conventional tests, procedures, and pills only to be left the same as they were at the start… with AFib.

Does this sound like you or someone you know? This can be a terrifying time, especially if you don’t understand what is happening to your body.

You may be wondering things like, is AFib life-threatening? Or, what is the leading cause of AFib? These are excellent questions to ask.

First, you need to know that you are not alone. As of 2020, over 37 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with AFib.

This number has increased by a whopping 33 percent during the last 20 years.

By 2030 it is thought that the number of diagnosed AFib cases will skyrocket by 60 percent. Sadly, the rates of AFib are on the rise, with many scientists calling it a global epidemicFACT: Over 5 million people in America are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation each year. This number will rise to 15.9 million by the year 2050

“Why is the number of AFib cases skyrocketing? It is certainly not because of a pharmaceutical or AFib procedure deficit.  For millions, living a toxic life and eating bad food in a toxic world is the norm. As this lifestyle persists, more and more people will be diagnosed with AFib and other life-threatening conditions. To change the numbers, a new and improved lifestyle must be adopted.”

– Dr. Jack Wolfson

The financial implications of AFib individually and for society are HUGE. AFib is a significant economic burden; insurance, out-of-pocket expenses, co-pays, drugs, procedures, and job-related expenses like days off or even loss of jobs are a tremendous financial burden.

Over 6 billion dollars are spent annually on AFib in the United States. Annual medical costs can be up almost $9,000 higher for people who have AFib than those who don’t.

The emotional costs are also enormous. An immediate stress response begins once someone is diagnosed with AFib. This stress response spreads outwards, impacting all affected, including family members and close friends.

The additional stress burden on the person diagnosed works contrary to getting well, and dealing with this stress must be part of the solution package.

We at Natural Heart Doctor understand and are so glad that you are here. Maybe you have just been diagnosed with AFib or have a loved one who has been diagnosed with this unsettling condition.

We are here to help and give you hope. We want you to know that no matter where you are on your journey and what has already happened or is happening to you or your loved one, it’s going to be okay.

You can achieve your
100 year heart
even if you have AFib.

After reading this, we hope that you will have a better understanding of the following:

  • What is AFib
  • Different types of AFib
  • Symptoms of AFib
  • Risk factors of AFib
  • Complications of AFib
  • How AFib is commonly diagnosed
  • How conventional medicine treats AFib and how pharmaceuticals and procedures are NOT always the answer
  • How to reverse and prevent AFib naturally
  • The best evidence-based tests for AFib
  • The best evidence-based supplements for AFib

Table of Contents

Chapter 1:

What is AFib?

Understanding any health condition is critical to the healing process. If you comprehend the problem and the root causes, you can better understand the treatment plan and be more compliant with the solution.

Being your own health advocate is more critical than ever. To do this, you must invest in yourself daily. It is the most selfless thing you can do. Investing in yourself makes you a better person, a healthier person!

How the heart’s conduction system works

Before we go any further, it is crucial to understand how the heart conduction system works.

The heart’s electrical pathway, leading to atrial and ventricular contractions, is the cardiac conduction system. A series of electrical events happen during one full heart muscle contraction. Let’s look in a little more detail at the parts that make up the cardiac conduction system and how they work together.

The Sinoatrial Node:

Where it starts

The sinoatrial (SA) node is located in the upper wall of the right atrium and contains special cells known as pacemaker cells. These cells spontaneously generate electrical impulses creating what is known as a wave of excitation.

This wave created by the SA node spreads across the right and left atria and results in atrial contraction. Blood moves from the atria into the ventricles.

The rate at which the SA node generates impulses is under the control of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS comes from the brain and then divides into the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. Sympathetic is commonly thought of as the fight, flight, or freeze response. Parasympathetic is rest, digest, reproduction, and recovery.

  • The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for increasing the SA node’s firing rate, which increases heart rate.
  • The parasympathetic nervous system decreases the SA node’s firing rate, which decreases heart rate.

The Atrioventricular Node:

Where it delays

After the electrical wave spreads across the atria, it gathers at the atrioventricular (AV) node. It delays long enough to ensure that the atria have enough time to eject blood into the ventricles.

Atrioventricular Bundle:

Where it continues and contracts

The atrioventricular bundle (bundle of His) and the Purkinje fibers spread the electrical wave along the right and left ventricles, causing them to contract.

Heartbeat = A contraction in the top part of the heart followed by a contraction in the bottom part of the heart.

Normal Heart Rhythm vs. AFib Heart Rhythm

Normal heart rhythm

Here is a strip from a normal EKG/ECG. You can see the regularity of the heartbeat. It is nice and smooth and predictable!

AFib is a form of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) with no synchronicity to the heartbeat.

The bottom part of the heart may be contracting correctly, but the top part is not. Instead of contracting, the top part of the heart is fluttering or quivering at about 600 beats per minute. 

AFib is a sign from your body that something is out of balance. Something is causing your heart to respond in arrhythmia.

AFib is not a disease in itself but a result of other diseases or conditions within the body.

This is one of the main reasons conventional treatments like drugs and procedures often fail. They do nothing to uncover the root reason why the heart is acting out.

Find the root cause. End the AFib.

During an AFib episode, the heart is not effectively moving blood into the ventricles (the lower chamber) from the atria (upper chamber).

AFib can go undiagnosed for a long time, as people are often asymptomatic.

Keep in mind; you are not alone if you have this condition. It is the most commonly diagnosed condition in clinical practice.

AFib heart rhythm

When someone is experiencing AFib, the heartbeat is IRREGULAR

Boom/  Boom/Boom/Boom, Boom/Boom/Boom / Boom/Boom, Boom/ Boom

We can equate the irregular heartbeat of AFib with the sound of a dripping faucet. Instead of hearing your faucet’s “drip drip drip” regular pattern, the flow sounds different.

The “AFib faucet” sounds as if you are turning the knob between nearly off and full blast repeatedly. Something is amiss.

Fortunately, the AV node is like a built-in toll booth that only allows so many beats to pass through per minute.

Younger people in AFib might have a heart rate of around 180 beats per minute, while older people, especially those who take pharmaceuticals, may have slower but still unorganized heartbeats.

Three Types of AFib

There are three primary types of AFib, and the type you have will determine your symptoms and how long they may last.

  1. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: This type of AFib comes on suddenly, with symptoms lasting anywhere from a few seconds to days, although all symptoms disappear within a week. Approximately half of those diagnosed with AFib fit this category.
  2. Persistent atrial fibrillation: Unlike those with paroxysmal AFib, individuals with persistent AFib have two or more episodes of symptoms that last longer than one week.
  3. Permanent atrial fibrillation: Individuals with permanent AFib have typically exhausted all of their treatment options, remaining in AFib despite all attempts otherwise.

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Three Types of AFib

1.

Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation

Terminates spontaneously, usually within 48 hours

2.

Persistent atrial fibrillation

Will not terminate spontaneously, but can be electrically cardioverted or converted with drugs

3.

Permanent atrial fibrillation

Will not terminate spontaneously, and is refractory to cardioversion

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Chapter 2:

Symptoms of AFib: The way it makes you feel

Afib Feels like:

Drums Pounding

Thunder Rumbling

fish flopping

Stan described AFib like a monster in his chest, and for many, this is how it feels. It is odd, unexpected, and terrifying. But the symptoms of AFib are highly individualistic.

Atrial fibrillation feels different for everyone and some may not feel it at all. However, some of the most common symptoms for people in AFib are:

  • Heart palpitations, skipped beats, thumping, a feeling that the heart is “flipping and flopping”
  • Feeling that the heart is racing, pounding, or going very fast
  • Feeling more tired than usual, often described as exhausted
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or feeling light-headed
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Feeling disoriented or confused
  • Sweating
  • Feeling anxious, panicked, or having a general sense that something is wrong.

Related Post: How AFib Makes You Feel: Common Symptoms

Chapter 3:

Stroke and What Else Could Happen

Yes, people are dying from AFib and its complications. Recent research suggests that atrial fibrillation is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death.

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study examining mortality and atrial fibrillation rates over 18 years. Here is what the study authors had to say,

“These findings emphasize the need for increased application of proven prevention and control measures to decrease associated cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.”

Related Post: Stop Blaming Your Parents for Your High Blood Pressure

What are the mainstream doctors doing for prevention?

You have just gotten the diagnosis. You sit with your head in your hands, repeating what the doctor has just told you.

 “Because you have AFib, there is a greater chance that you might have a stroke, develop dementia, cardiomyopathy, or experience erectile dysfunction and other serious conditions.” 

I know that mainstream cardiologists are doing nothing for prevention. I was one of them at one time, and there was never talk about prevention, no tools given to patients, only pills and procedures.

Dr. Jack Wolfson

What does any of this even mean? It all sounds terrible, right? 

The thought of developing these conditions leaves you terrified. Suddenly AFib feels very real. If you are seeing a conventional cardiologist, this is where they start prescribing pills to keep you from having a stroke.

The questions you should ask are: Do I need them? What are the complications of taking them? Are they addressing the root of the problem? What other options do I have?  

Find out what percentage of people do better on the pills prescribed and how many don’t improve or get worse. You might have to dig for this information.

Remember, AFib is not a pill or procedure deficiency; it is your body acting out because something is out of balance. Something else is going on that is causing your heart to beat irregularly.

Will I have a stroke?

In AFib, blood can pool in the upper chamber of the heart and form clots. If a clot forms in the left-sided chamber, known as the left atrium, it can break free from the heart and travel to the brain. The clot can block blood flow in the brain and cause a stroke.

Studies have demonstrated up to a fivefold increase in overall stroke risk associated with atrial fibrillation. Indeed, that alarming statistic would cause anyone with atrial fibrillation to be concerned.

It is essential to recognize the difference between this overall risk and your risk. By identifying how likely you are to have a stroke, you can make informed health decisions.

What if we told you that not everyone diagnosed with AFib has a high stroke risk? 

The truth is, there is a simple way to determine what your stroke risk is, which helps direct your next steps. First developed in 2001 and later modified, the CHADSVASc score is an acronym for a tool used by AFib patients to determine their stroke risk.

Remember that the CHADSVASc calculator does not account for inflammation resulting from lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, toxins, etc. The more inflamed your body is, the more likely you are to have a stroke. Reducing inflammation has a significant impact on stroke risk.

Read more about determining your personal stroke risk in the article below.

Related Post: What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About AFib and Stroke Risk

Cardiomyopathy/ Congestive Heart Failure

Cardiomyopathy means heart muscle dysfunction. This can occur from a fast heart rate such as in AFib and is an important reason to use a ZioPatch Monitor or monitor the average heart rate very often. Typically, cardiomyopathy causes the heart to become enlarged, thick, or rigid.

As cardiomyopathy becomes more advanced, the heart muscle becomes weaker. It cannot efficiently pump blood throughout the body and cannot maintain a regular electrical rhythm, resulting in arrhythmia.

Congestive heart failure, also known as heart failure, occurs when the heart cannot efficiently pump oxygenated blood to bodily organs. Atrial fibrillation can lead to heart failure, and heart failure can lead to AFib. Many things, including AFib, that increase your risk of heart failure can be reversed with simple lifestyle changes.

Related Post: Slash Your Risk of Heart Failure By Doing These 7 Things

Dementia

Dementia or cognitive impairment may result from a large stroke or small, silent strokes, brain bleeds, or hypoperfusion to the brain. A heart in AFib may not pump enough blood effectively to get oxygen to the brain, thus leading to symptoms.

There is a growing body of evidence indicating that AFib is a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. Research shows a consistently higher risk and rate of cognitive impairment in those with AFib.

Related Post: 7 Subtle Signs Your Brain is Failing You

Erectile Dysfunction

For men, atrial fibrillation and erectile dysfunction (ED) is an issue. If you have atrial fibrillation, it’s a risk factor for erectile dysfunction, according to a recent urology journal article. The same risk factors that lead to AFib can lead to ED.

Related Post: Does Your Sex Life Stink? It Could be AFib

Chapter 4:

Why Do I Have AFib?

Once you wrap your mind around having AFib, the next question is, why? Why is your heart malfunctioning?

You are scared, feel crappy, and may be overwhelmed with dealing with all the what ifs” that are before you. Getting to the root cause(s) of your AFib is instrumental in healing and becoming the best version of yourself.

Cardiologists usually tell patients that there is no cause for atrial fibrillation. It is just a consequence of getting older or genetics. But the cardiologists are incorrect, an accusation supported by exhaustive medical literature. The reality is that there are hundreds of causes of atrial fibrillation. At Natural Heart Doctor, we search and identify the root causes while developing a plan to eliminate them. The more we eliminate the causes, the more chance we have of reversing atrial fibrillation AND the other diseases that link to the same causes. This is in contrast to the “pill and burn” approach, which can eliminate the AFib but leaves the person at risk for other diseases because the causes were never addressed!

Dr. Jack Wolfson

All cardiologists recognize the following as traditional risk factors that put the body at a higher risk for developing AFib.

High Blood Pressure/ Hypertension

If your blood pressure is too high for too long (chronic), it can cause pressure to increase in the left atrium, which in turn causes enlargement, which can lead to AFib. A non-chronic or acute episode of high blood pressure can also bring on an AFib attack. Getting at the reason behind your high blood pressure is vital.

It is important to keep digging to get to the root cause of this prevalent AFib risk factor.

Related Post: Can High Blood Pressure Cause Atrial Fibrillation?

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and AFib.

These include belly fat, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high triglycerides, and low HDL (good) cholesterol.

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6 Signs of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome increases the risk or stroke, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes

Metabolic Syndrome negatively impacts your metabolic activities and puts you at a greater risk of stroke, heart disease, and Type 2 Diabetes

High Blood Pressure

Abnormal Body Mass Index

High Blood Glucose

Abnormal Cholesterol

Obesity

Insulin Resistance

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Obesity

Does being obese lead to AFib? Research shows that people who are obese often have additional health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which contribute to the possibility of developing an irregular heartbeat. Research shows that a rise in BMI (body mass index)  parallels a striking increase in AFib.

Being overweight puts a strain on the body and heart and is associated with what is known as epicardial fat – fat around the heart, which can lead to AFib.

Related Post: Does a Big Belly Cause AFib?

Sleep Apnea

Research shows a strong association between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and atrial fibrillation. Almost 50 percent of people with AFib also have OSA. OSA occurs when there is a blockage in the airway that restricts breathing for ten seconds or longer during sleep.

The condition ranges from mild to severe depending on the number of times a person stops breathing each hour.

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed but carries many symptoms, including morning headaches, daytime drowsiness, snoring, night sweats, impaired memory, choking sounds, weight gain, and moodiness.

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Related Post: Is this Common Sleep Disorder Causing your AFib?

Genetic Predisposition

“Our genetics are perfect. But wait, you might say, I know that I have this particular gene that makes me more susceptible to atrial fibrillation. That  may be the case in a very few people; however, something, some stressor must act on that gene for it to act out.”

– Dr. Jack Wolfson

In short, something must turn on the light switch. Think lifestyle factors here. How you live, what you eat, etc. A family history of atrial fibrillation does not mean that you will automatically develop the condition.

Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. Its primary responsibility is to produce two hormones, Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). These hormones circulate throughout the body where they regulate metabolism, telling the cells in your body how much energy to use and regulating your body temperature and heart rate. They are also crucial for digestion, muscle control, brain development, and mood balance.

When the thyroid gland produces too much or too little of these hormones, disorders occur. The two most common types of thyroid disease are:

  • Hypothyroidism – The thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone
  • Hyperthyroidism – The thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone

Hypothyroidism and the heart

Lower production of thyroid hormone can lead to heart issues such as AFib and congestive heart failure. Decreased thyroid can be from an autoimmune condition where your immune system is attacking the thyroid gland. This is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, named after the doctor who discovered the disease.

When heart symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Slower heart rate – bradycardia
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Excess fluid around the heart

Treatment for hypothyroidism starts with finding the cause of the condition and is often reversible.

Routine Testing for Thyroid Problems Sometimes Falls Short

For many years, ranges used for routine thyroid testing have been discussed and debated. The main problem is inconsistencies and changes in reference ranges, resulting in people who need treatment falling between the cracks.

Studies show huge differences between the population and individual reference ranges. This means that test results that fall in the normal range may be optimal for one person but not another.

The key here is a personalized approach based on the specific needs of the individual. If you suspect an issue with your thyroid, visit a skilled practitioner who will consider how you feel and your lifestyle, and will use comprehensive testing.

Hyperthyroidism and the Heart

When the body produces too much thyroid hormone, it pushes the heart to work harder, leading to symptoms like:

  • Increased heart rate, even when resting and especially after exercise
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased cardiac output – the amount of blood pumping through the body
  • Increased heart contractions

Once treatment begins for this condition, the symptoms usually go away. However, hyperthyroidism does increase the risk of heart conditions, including:

  • Heart failure
  • AFib
  • Chest pain
  • Pulmonary hypertension

Related Post: Everything You Need to Know About Thyroid and Heart Health

Alcohol Consumption

At one time, heavy drinking only was associated with AFib, allowing for social consumption. However, new research shows that even one drink is enough to increase the risk of atrial fibrillation. The new study is the first of its kind to find a correlation between even a single glass of wine and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

Smoking

The more a person smokes, the greater their risk of developing AFib. A person who smokes ten cigarettes per day has a 17 percent higher risk of developing AFib. A person who smokes 20 cigarettes has a 32 percent greater risk. For a person who smokes 30 cigarettes per day, the risk is 45 percent higher than for a non-smoker.

Smoking increases the risk of other health conditions such as diabetes, COPD, coronary heart disease, and heart failure, which make the risk of AFib greater. Nicotine is implicated in fibrosis of the heart, which can lead to arrhythmia.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a name given to a group of progressive lung diseases that restrict airflow and cause breathing-related problems. The two most common conditions are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Emphysema destroys the air sacs in the lungs, which disrupts outward airflow. Chronic bronchitis results in narrowed bronchial tubes, causing mucus to accumulate. Smoking is the number one cause of COPD, as smoke causes irreversible damage to the airways.

Breathing in secondhand smoke over time can also lead to COPD. Polluted workplaces, toxic homes, air pollution, and a previous history of asthma increase the risk of developing COPD.

Research illustrates a strong correlation between COPD and atrial fibrillation. One study found that people with COPD had a 28 percent greater risk of developing AFib than those without COPD.

Valvular Heart Disease

The heart has four valves – tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic. Each one has flaps that open and close to keep blood flowing through the heart, lungs, and body. Two problems that can happen with valves are stenosis and regurgitation.

Stenosis – Stenosis occurs when flaps on a valve become thick, stiff, or fuse together. This means the valve cannot be fully open. For instance, blood flow is obstructed from the left atrium to the left ventricle with mitral valve stenosis. The result is an increase in pressure in the left atrium. This can cause the heart to enlarge and the risk for AFib to increase.

Regurgitation – Regurgitation occurs when a valve is unable to close fully. This causes blood to leak backward rather than flowing through the heart or into an artery. When regurgitation occurs, the heart is strained because it must work harder. Over time the heart may become enlarged, which increases the risk of AFib.

Premature Atrial Contractions

Research shows a link between premature atrial contractions (PACs) and AFib. PACs occur in the heart’s upper chambers in the atria. They generally occur in healthy individuals with no known heart disease and do not typically cause damage to the heart muscle.

Some people may have fluttering, increased awareness of heartbeat, heart palpitations, skipped or missed heartbeats, or fatigue after exercise. Symptoms generally occur in the evening or night when the heart rate naturally slows down.

Researchers believe that these premature atrial beats may shorten the electrical recovery time of atrial cells. Because of this, several premature beats may occur in a row, triggering an AFib attack.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is also known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is essentially scar tissue in an artery. It contains immune cells, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances inside the arteries and is commonly called plaque build-up.

Over time these substances harden and build up as plaque, ultimately narrowing the arteries and obstructing blood flow to your heart and other organs. This can lead to AFib, heart attacks, stroke, serious illness, and death.

Related Post: These 10 Herbs Naturally Keep Your Arteries Clean

Athletics

The risk of AFib is more than 50 percent higher for competitive athletes than non-athletes. Researchers found that younger athletes (under 55) had a significantly higher risk of AFib compared to athletes over 55, although older athletes were more likely to have AFib than non-athletes. Another study shows that elite endurance athletes can have up to a five times greater risk of AFib than the general population.

The reasons are not incredibly clear as to why there is an increased risk of AFib among athletes. Some theories state that hormones may increase the risk and that exercise can change the heart’s structure, making some chambers a little larger, which could contribute.

Athletes also generate a lot of oxidative damage from free radicals. If healthy antioxidants are not consumed to combat the free radicals, they can interfere with the energy-producing mitochondria and contribute to AFib.

Related Post: The Truth About Exercise and AFib

Chapter 5:

9 Lifestyle Risk Factors Your Cardiologist May Not Tell You About

Natural Heart Doctor recognizes the traditional risk factors but understands that additional lifestyle risks or root factors drive the body out of balance!

Because of this, it is vital to start with these lifestyle risk factors or ROOTS to tackle AFib, which, remember, is a symptom of the body being out of balance.

Think about a tree:

When the roots are strong, the tree is strong!

Take the biggest fear and risk of AFib, stroke. Addressing lifestyle risk factors such as diet and physical activity has a massive impact on blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes – all conditions that drive up the risk of AFib and stroke. Do you see how all of this is interconnected?

Research in animals first and then in humans shows that improving health at the most basic level has a significant and lasting positive impact on AFib burden. In other words, striving to be the best version of yourself is at the very core of reversing your AFib and preventing sickness.

When we work to be the best version of ourselves and live a clean and healthy lifestyle, we see the heart settle down and quit acting out.

Here are nine lifestyle areas that significantly drive disease and create ripe opportunities for atrial fibrillation.

1. Poor Diet

What you eat (and drink) truly matters. Think of it this way. Would you put soda in your gas tank and expect to go very far? The answer is a flat-out “no.” In the same fashion, if we do not give our body what it needs for fuel, repair, healing, and balance, it will not respond favorably.

A diet loaded with refined sugar and grains, dangerous fats, gluten, additives, preservatives, and other dangerous chemicals causes major inflammation, which starts the disease process.

It is essential to think of food as fuel and consider everything you put inside your body as impacting you in one of two ways. Either it will provide energy and a positive, lasting health impact, or it will drive you into a state of disrepair and disease.

Research reveals that a poor diet kills more people globally than tobacco, high blood pressure, or any other health risk!

Related Post: Quit Eating This “Sweet” Poison

2. Poor Sleep

Do you burn the candle at both ends? Perhaps you have an irregular sleep schedule or suffer from stress-induced insomnia.

A lack of quality sleep can and eventually will make you sick. Not only does a lack of sleep contribute to an inflammatory reaction in the body, but it can also impact your immune system.

Your body needs quality sleep to repair and refresh.

Over the long run, a lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and AFib.

3. Lack of Sunshine

Do you spend most of your time indoors? Do you live in a northern location where a lack of sunshine is typical? Research tells us that Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors.

If you spend the majority of your time indoors, you are not only missing out on all the health benefits of sunshine but also breathing in indoor pollutants that further compromise health.

You may have never thought about the importance of sunlight, but research clearly shows that it is instrumental in achieving optimal wellness. Getting enough sunlight on your body is essential for metabolism, good health, and disease prevention.

But why? Vitamin D is one of four fat-soluble vitamins and not truly a vitamin, although it has this name. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D is produced in the body and is not found in any foods apart from fish and egg yolks.

Even when consumed, the body must transform the vitamin D from food sources before it is functional. Natural vitamin D is produced in the skin and is present in the form of cholesterol. Ultraviolet B (UVB) energy from the sun converts this cholesterol to vitamin D3. Next, it is carried to the liver and kidney, transforming into the usable form of vitamin D.

A lack of sunshine starts a cascade of health problems that can lead to the development of atrial fibrillation, including:

  • Poor quality sleep
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of focus
  • Increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Weak bones
  • Weak immune system
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of cancer

4. Poor Stress Management

The connection between poor stress management and sickness is obvious and well documented in research.

Since eliminating stress from your life is almost impossible, it is essential to develop healthy habits for managing the stress that comes your way.

Improperly managing stress puts a tremendous strain on the body and can cause many issues that can lead to the development of atrial fibrillation and other conditions, including:

Aches and Pains

It is common to feel some bodily discomfort while under long-term stress. Some studies link chronic pain, including headaches, with higher levels of stress and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Skin Problems

Stress can wreak havoc on our skin. Several studies associate higher stress levels with increased acne, dermatitis, and even aging.

Gut Dysfunction

Stress disrupts our digestive system and can even change our appetite. Research studies have connected long-term stress with digestive issues like constipation, bloating, and diarrhea, especially in relation to digestive disorders such as IBS.

Sleep Disruptions

Sleep is crucial for our health, but most have experienced difficulty sleeping after a stressful day or week. Stress can disrupt sleep, leading to insomnia, fatigue, and lower daytime energy. One study found that higher levels of work-related stress increase sleepiness and restlessness.

Changes in Mood

Research shows that chronic stress may lead to the development of depression. One study of women found that both acute and chronic stress contributed to the onset of depression. These findings suggest the importance of assessing chronic stress as part of the treatment of mood disorders.

What Stress Does to the Body

  • Feeling nervous all the time
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Quick breathing
  • Digestive woes
  • Oily and sensitive skin
  • Tense muscles
  • Tension headaches
  • Mental health issues
  • Major heart issues
  • Breathing issues and panic attacks
  • Acne and hair loss
  • Elevated risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Fertility issues men and women

5. Physical Inactivity

Heart Disease

Lack of physical activity can lead to cardiovascular disease.

1 of 4

Lower Back & Spine

Sitting increases stress on (and reduces flexibility of) the spine and can lead to osteoporosis.

2 of 4

Obesity

Increased sitting is linked to weight gain and diabetes.

3 of 4

Vascular Problems

Too much time in a chair can lead to blood clots and, in serious cases, deep vein thrombosis.

4 of 4

Moving is essential for health. Research indicates that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to severe health problems. A lack of movement is the primary cause of most chronic diseases.

Not only does a lack of movement contribute to poor heart health, but it also increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other serious health problems that can lead to atrial fibrillation.

Sedentary jobs have increased in America, and more people spend time at a desk and in their cars than ever before. People who sit for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity have the same risks of dying as those who are obese. Too much sitting can even lead to premature mortality.

6. Environmental Toxins and Pollutants

When you think of pollutants, the tall stack spewing black smoke into the air might come to mind. However, pollutants and environmental toxins may be so tiny you can’t even see them.

Related Post: Polluted Air Increases the Risk of AFib

This, however, does not undermine their danger. Even the smallest, most microscopic environmental toxins can harm your health. Toxins you are exposed to in your work environment, home, or everyday living can increase your risk of developing severe health conditions, including AFib. Environmental toxins are considered a key driver of cardiovascular disease.

Related Post: Can Chemicals in My Workplace Cause AFib?

There is also major growing concern over pesticides and the development of several diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and neurological conditions.

Related Post: 7 Places Heart-Harming Toxins are Hiding in Your Home

7. Mold Mycotoxins

Over 300 mycotoxins are known from hundreds of different mold species. Science tells us that these mycotoxins are hazardous to human (and animal) health.

The medical community is slowly starting to wake up to the dangers of mold and its mycotoxins.

Mold mycotoxins can lead to AFib. The evidence shows how they stimulate the immune system, damage glutathione, and create leaky gut, leaky heart, and leaky brain.

Is Mold Hiding in my Home?

Bathroom

Toilet • Shower • Towels​

Attic

Nonventilated areas • Possible leaks going unnoticed

Laundry Room

HVAC system • Ductwork • Ceiling tiles

Kitchen

Under the sink • The fridge • Dishwasher

Living Room

Carpet • Electrical equipment • Windows

Related Post: Mold and Irregular Heartbeat: the Scary Truth

normal vertebrae
subluxated

8. Spinal Subluxations

Did you know that every organ in your body has a nerve stemming from your spinal cord?

A subluxation is a misalignment of the vertebrae that interferes with nerve function and results in an organ or tissue malfunction.

If a subluxation compresses a nerve in your stomach, it may not function properly, leading to gastritis, ulcers, etc.

Research shows that those who experience stress on their neck — even small amounts — were 3.1 times more likely to suffer a heart arrhythmia.

There are several reasons why people suffer from misalignments of the vertebrae, including injury, poor posture, trauma, accidents, and sports-related injuries.

9. Oral Disorders

Heart Disease

Problems Caused By Poor Dental Health

Diabetes

Problems Caused By Poor Dental Health

Gum Disease

Problems Caused By Poor Dental Health

Mouth Cancer

Problems Caused By Poor Dental Health

Bad Breath

Problems Caused By Poor Dental Health

Tooth Decay

Problems Caused By Poor Dental Health

Lung Cancer

Problems Caused By Poor Dental Health

Stroke

Problems Caused By Poor Dental Health

Not many people think of oral health as being a disease driver. The state of your mouth, teeth, and gums is truly a reflection of your overall health and wellbeing.

Poor oral health can contribute to many health conditions, including endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of the heart chamber or valves), cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, cancer, diabetes, and more.

Poor dental health is a factor for cardiovascular disease and AFib. Periodontal pathogens may cause damage to the endothelium (the thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels) and cause atherogenesis (plaque formation leading to heart disease).

Related Post: 15 Common Things That Might Trigger An AFib Attack

Chapter 6:

What All of the Risk Factors do to Your Body

Risk Factors → Oxidative Stress → Inflammation → Endothelial Dysfunction → AFib (and other diseases)

Risk Factors → Autonomic Imbalance → AFib (and other diseases)

All of the AFib risk factors mentioned damage the body in measurable ways. This is recognized by the cardiology community but not often discussed with patients.

The following four concepts represent what the risk factors do to the body, thus leading to AFib and every other disease state.

Oxidative Stress

You may have heard the terms free radicals and antioxidants before. Oxidative stress occurs at the cellular level when there is an imbalance between free radicals (oxygen-containing molecules with one or more unpaired electrons) and antioxidants (molecules that neutralize free radicals by donating an electron).

When free radicals come in contact with other molecules, chemical reactions occur called oxidation. Oxidation can be good or bad.

In a good sense, the body’s natural immune response causes a temporary surge of oxidative stress, which leads to mild or acute inflammation. The oxidative response diminishes once the body has enough immune strength to fight the infection or insult.

In the bad sense, when oxidative stress is chronic, it causes damage to proteins, cells, and DNA in the body. It also accelerates aging and leads to chronic inflammation and disease.

Some factors that increase the risk of oxidative stress include:

  • Diets high in processed foods and sugar
  • Pollution, pesticides, chemicals
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Radiation
  • Certain medications

Related Post: Stop What Causes Oxidative Stress Fast

Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals by donating an electron; thus, the free radical becomes less reactive and more stable. Antioxidants are like soldiers fighting against free radicals and oxidative damage in your body.

Thousands of substances act as antioxidants, including vitamins C, A, E, and beta-carotene, along with minerals such as selenium and manganese, glutathione, lipoic acid, phenols, flavonoids, and more.

NOTE: Although we tend to use the term antioxidant to refer to an actual substance, it is really a chemical property  — the ability to donate an electron.

Cells in the human body produce potent antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid and glutathione. However, the best way to keep your antioxidant tank full is to eat foods, especially organic fruits and veggies, loaded with antioxidants. The more color, the better!

Related Post: 19 Foods to Stop Oxidative Damage Fast

Chronic Inflammation

Your body is on fire. Your heart is on fire. Toxic food and a toxic lifestyle create inflammation. This is measured by blood tests very quickly. To get your AFib under control, we need to reverse the inflammation. Not only does inflammation increase AFib burden, but it also increases stroke risk.

Dr. Jack Wolfson

Although you may associate inflammation with a sprained ankle or arthritis, chronic inflammation, meaning it goes on inside the body for a long time, can be deadly.

Acute or immediate inflammation is necessary for healing, bringing redness, swelling, heat, and immobility. This critical inflammatory response fights infections and speeds up the healing process. In short, it is good.

On the other hand, chronic inflammation is harmful and burns like an out-of-control wildfire.

When cells, tissues, and organs are inflamed, they do not function properly, leading to disease.

In the case of AFib, when the heart cells of the atrium are inflamed, electrical conduction becomes abnormal. Inflammation is best measured with a blood test called hs-crp. The higher this number, the higher the AFib risk and the less likely to get someone out of AFib and keep them out.

What causes inflammation?  There is a wide range of things that contribute to runaway inflammation, the majority of them being lifestyle-related, including but not limited to:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Chronic stress
  • Pollutants and toxins
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of sleep

Related Post: Alert! Don’t Ignore These Signs of Chronic Inflammation

Gut issues are a major driver of inflammation

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, stated that all disease begins in the gut. Modern research verifies this claim made more than 2,000 years ago.

If our intestines are compromised, we can’t access nutrients properly, and they can’t protect us from inflammation.

Every time we eat and drink, we either feed the disease process or fight it!

What’s a major cause of the inflammation? Leaky gut.

The duties of our gut (intestines) include: breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, absorbing water, excreting waste, and optimizing our immune system.

Basically, the gut lining should allow certain nutrients to enter the bloodstream and block or excrete things that should not.

Leaky gut (intestinal hyper-permeability) is a condition where the gut can’t prevent foreign things from entering the bloodstream. Things like poorly digested foods and toxins wreak havoc within our bodies, causing inflammation and dysfunction.

People with Celiac disease may also be at a higher risk of developing AFib.

Related Post: Can a Healthy Gut Microbiome Prevent Heart Disease?

Endothelial Dysfunction

Also known as non-obstructive coronary artery disease, endothelial dysfunction occurs when large blood vessels located on the surface of the heart contract instead of dilating. The most common symptom of a person with this condition is chronic chest pain.

Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation lead to endothelial dysfunction.

Because of this dysfunction, nitric oxide availability dwindles, leading to a series of events that cause atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease progression and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

Nitric oxide (NO) is a molecule that helps to keep blood vessels open and reduce inflammation. When NO production and sensitivity decrease, vascular balance is disrupted, which leads to the blood vessel wall becoming inflamed and prone to the production of fibrin clots.

Autonomic Imbalance and Sympathetic Overdrive

The autonomic nervous system is part of the peripheral nervous system that regulates several bodily functions without us even knowing. It controls things like heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and blood flow.

The autonomic nervous system is part of the peripheral nervous system that regulates several bodily functions without us even knowing. It controls things like heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and blood flow.

The autonomic nervous system branches into three components: the enteric nervous system (entirely in the gut), parasympathetic, and sympathetic.

The parasympathetic branch is responsible for conserving physical resources and maintaining normal bodily functions such as slowing the heart rate down, controlling the bladder, and constricting eye pupils. It is a sort of down-regulator.

The sympathetic branch regulates the well-known “fight or flight” response, driven by the release of hormones that prepare your body to turn and face a perceived or real threat or run away.

This branch is also responsible for relaxing the bladder, speeding up the heart rate, and dilating eye pupils. It is a sort of up-regulator.

Many people live in a state of autonomic imbalance or “sympathetic overdrive.” 

Research shows a link between a sympathetic overdrive state and the development of AFib and other dangerous conditions.

Historically, the sympathetic nervous system was responsible for activating our escape from a tiger or other dangerous animal and assisting in hunting prey. It was used pretty sparingly.

Fast forward to the 21st century when the sympathetic nervous system is activated most of the day in our constant battle with work, family, and a “go-go” society.

Think about the traffic on your way to work or the latest issue with your computer or cellphone coupled with a stuffed schedule and heavy emotional demands throughout your day. These things trigger and keep your body in a constant state of “flight or fight.”

According to the American Institute of Stress, Stress triggers 85 percent of all disease and illness.

Like inflammation, an acute or short-term sympathetic response can help preserve life. However, when this response becomes chronic, it pushes the body into sympathetic overdrive, where it begins to produce harmful chemical waste that disrupts hormones and causes free radical damage that breaks up nerve cells.

Related Post: Deadly Dangers of Fight or Flight

This process goes unnoticed until the body can no longer take it and screams out with symptoms such as weight gain, hyperactivity, pain, inflammation, mental fog, fatigue, and cardiovascular stress.

Disease and unhealthy lifestyle disrupt balance

Disease and poor lifestyle can disrupt the balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. Any type of stress put on the body can cause the sympathetic nervous system to switch into high gear.

This includes emotional, physical, and chemical stress.

Sympathetic overdrive increases your risk for atrial fibrillation and other dangerous cardiovascular conditions, including congestive heart failure, ischemic stroke, hypertension, and acute myocardial infarction.

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Are You In Sympathetic Overdrive Mode?

  • You have muscle tension in your neck, back, and shoulders
  • You have gained weight or have trouble losing weight
  • You are frequently dizzy
  • You suffer from fatigue
  • You have problems sleeping
  • You feel on edge

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Chapter 7:

Diagnosing and Monitoring AFib

Several common methods are used to achieve a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation. Combining these methods can affirm an accurate diagnosis. Once diagnosed, there are some excellent options for monitoring AFib at home.

Electrocardiogram

An EKG or ECG (also known as an electrocardiogram) records electrical signals from the heart. During this non-invasive test, small electrodes are placed on spots on the arms, legs, and chest. These electrodes are connected to an ECG machine by lead wires. The electrical activity of the heart is measured and printed out for review.

Thoracic Echocardiogram

If you have been to see a conventional cardiologist, you may have had a test called a trans-thoracic echocardiogram done. This safe and useful test looks at heart function, heart thickness, chamber sizes, pressure, leaks, or stenosis. If you have not had this test done, it is a great place to start to get an overview of the health of your heart.

Trans-esophageal Echocardiogram

Another test that you might have had is a trans-esophageal echocardiogram (TEE). Once the patient is sedated, a probe is placed behind the heart, providing a clear view of the valves.

This test also checks for blood clots in the atria and the atrial appendage. It is often done before cardioversion to be sure that it is safe to conduct that procedure. Although there are always risks associated with sedation, the overall risks associated with this type of testing are pretty minimal.

Zio Patch

Another option is a Zio patch. It records every single heartbeat for two weeks. Every heartbeat is recorded and timestamped. This allows a cardiologist to see if you are in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Are you going in and out of AFib? How often are you doing so? Are you going in and out of AFib every day? Is it every few days?

Or maybe you have not gone into atrial fibrillation for an entire week or two weeks? That information is crucial. The Zio patch comes with a diary so you can record what you were doing when the symptoms started.

When your heart is racing, it is essential to see what’s going on. Is it atrial fibrillation, something different, or nothing at all? Sometimes people just have symptoms of a racing heart, even when there’s nothing to see on the monitor.

This device is straightforward to wear and has no wires. You can even shower while you have it on.

Monitoring Devices

Wearable devices

Although they are on the rise, wearable devices such as fitness watches can often provide false readings, making people think they have an abnormal heart rhythm. Additionally, any wearable technology emits dangerous EMF signals that can cause further issues with the heart.

Handheld ECGs

Some personal use ECG machines have a monitor screen, and others allow you to upload data to your smartphone or computer.

These monitors may assess heart rate and rhythm through the fingers or use leads or points of contact on the body. Readings can be inaccurate if you have sweat or moisture on your skin or do not follow the instructions for use.

Implanted devices

A small device known as an implantable loop recorder monitors heart rhythm continuously for up to three years. This device allows you to do your daily activities while your doctor remotely monitors your heart.

The upside to this device is patient compliance. It captures data that a standard electrocardiogram or wearable device might miss, especially if arrhythmias occur infrequently or briefly. Although implantation is a minor surgical procedure, there is still a risk of irritation or infection, especially before wound healing.

Chapter 8:

Conventional Treatment of AFib

Many cardiologists don’t explain why​ people have AFib. They just head straight to the prescription pad or set up an ablation.

Sure, they will examine you and order an ECG and an echocardiogram but rarely take a breath before referring you for a procedure or writing you a prescription.

Conventional therapies, using costly and dangerous drugs as the first treatment line, are just a band-aid approach.

Just like a bandage does not address the cause of the wound, standard cardiology approaches don’t address the causes of AFib! 

Some cardiologists seem to be awakening to the truth that AFib is not fixable with rhythm drugs or ablations in the same way that aspirin doesn’t cure a headahce and a stent doesn’t fix the arteries.

The significant issues with any drug are side effects and toxicities

Yes, there may be a time and place for pills and procedures, but they should no longer be practitioners’ first use. Using drugs or surgery should not be seen as long-term therapy for AFib.

Antiarrhythmic and Rate Control Drugs

Antiarrhythmic drugs control heart rate. Rate control drugs slow the heart rate to less than 100 beats per minute by blocking some electrical signals in the atria and preventing them from being transmitted to the ventricles.

A large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at a group of people (around age 70) suffering from AFib. They wanted to see which was better, controlling rhythm or controlling rate.

The study results showed that there were 365 deaths among the patients in the rhythm-control therapy and 310 deaths in the rate-control group. More patients in the rhythm-control group were hospitalized, and there were adverse drug impacts seen in this group as well.

Note: All participants in the above study were also on blood thinners.

The most successful drug has been amiodarone*, but it also has a very high organ toxicity rate and severe numerous side effects with long-term use.

*also used for rate control but with some severe side effects

Dofetilide, a rhythm control drug, is so potent that it requires you to stay in the hospital for three days after taking it to ensure you don’t die!

Pharmaceuticals often used to control heart rate, include three groups of drugs, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and cardiac glycosides.

Beta-blockers block the release of stress hormones in certain parts of the body and, by doing so, slow the heart rate down. The most common side effects of beta-blockers include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Poor circulation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal issues including nausea, diarrhea, or constipation

Calcium channel blockers slow the rate of calcium passing into the heart muscle and vessel walls. Calcium causes the heart and arteries to contract strongly because calcium channel blockers allow the blood vessels to relax and open, which slows the heart rate. Side effects of calcium channel blockers may include:

  • Constipation
  • Flushing
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Rash
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Swelling
  • Low blood pressure

Studies show that taking calcium channel blockers increases the risk of death.

Cardiac glycosides

Cardiac glycosides – digoxin – represent a family of compounds derived from the Foxglove plant (Digitalis purpurea) and have been around for many years. This is a well-tolerated drug with few side effects. There is a concern that it may be pro-arrhythmic and that those who take it have a high incidence of future AFib.

People with abnormal kidney function may develop toxic levels of digoxin. Because of this, monitoring is a must.

Blood Thinners

Remember what was said above? You may not even have a considerable stroke risk which means you don’t need a blood thinner. Is a pharmaceutical the best option for you? You must collect all the data first before making a decision. Do the risks outweigh the benefits? Is there a safer and more effective way?

The use of certain anticoagulants may lower immunity. The cost associated with additional lab work and monitoring of patients on anticoagulants is substantial.

Finally, a recent study found that newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation patients on anticoagulant therapy did not experience a decreased risk of stroke.

Some of the most significant risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes, excess belly fat, and abnormal cholesterol. If you are overweight, you are more likely to have at least one of these conditions. Losing weight could have a significant impact on lowering your overall risk of stroke.

Common drugs used for stroke prevention include:

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) – FDA approval in 1954
  • Dabigatran (Pradaxa) – FDA approval in 2010
  • Rivaroxaban  (Xarelto) – FDA approval in 2011
  • Apixaban (Eliquis) – FDA approval 2012

Note: The newer drugs produce a lower stroke risk than Warfarin and do not require monitoring.  Warfarin is also associated with an increased risk of vascular calcification.

Related Post: The Truth About Aspirin and Heart Health

Cardioversion

Over 30,000 cardioversions are performed each year in the United States for atrial fibrillation. A cardioversion is a popular procedure where an electrical shock is applied to the heart through the skin to get it out of the AFib state and back into normal rhythm. This procedure is only beneficial for someone who has constant or persistent AFib.

Sedation is used during the procedure so that the patient does not feel anything. For the most part, cardioversions are 90 percent successful at getting someone out of AFib. However, there is no guarantee that it won’t return in an hour, a week, a few months, or even a year later.

The main risk of cardioversion is stroke. A transesophageal echocardiogram can be performed before the cardioversion to ensure that there is no blood clot in the heart that will become dislodged during the procedure. Many physicians will also use blood thinners before and after the process to further minimize the stroke risk.

The more inflammation you have in your body as measured by C reactive protein (CRP), the more likely your AFib will return after cardioversion. Know what your markers of inflammation are. If they are high, take the time to reduce them by getting healthy before your procedure!

Other complications include vertebral fractures (when too much force is used with the paddles) in the procedure. Some patients may experience mild chest pain after the operation that generally resolves in a few days.

If cardioversion is necessary, you must first become the best version of yourself before undergoing this procedure. This will improve the outcome tremendously!

Getting healthy before cardioversion will help you stay healthy afterward!

People who have high vitamin D have a higher cardioversion success rate! Get out in the sunshine before your procedure to raise vitamin D levels.

Cardiac Ablation

Cardiac ablation, also called catheter ablation, is a $100,000 surgical procedure that aims to restore normal electrical function to a heart out of rhythm.

Approximately 360,000 people underwent cardiac ablations in the United States in 2020, and 240,000 of those were for AFib.

People who suffer from sleep apnea before an ablation have a higher risk of recurrence after the procedure.

Typically performed by an interventional cardiologist, cardiac ablations use energy to make small scars in the heart tissue. Hypothetically, the new lesions in the heart block the abnormal pathway, thus restoring the heart’s normal rhythm.

This procedure is not without risks, including bleeding, infection, damaged blood vessels, heart damage or puncture, etc.

The odds of an ablation fixing your heart aren’t exactly comforting. According to a 2015 study, cardiac ablations are approximately 50 percent successful. However, ten months after ablation, about 40 percent of people are back in AFib. Three years after ablation, only 25 percent of people are free of arrhythmia.

People who are unhappy and suffer from depression have an increased risk of AFib recurrence after ablation. The mind does impact the heart!

While some have success with cardiac ablations, they are hardly the long-term cure many think they are. From 20-30 percent of ablation patients will need a second procedure due to a recurrence.

Ablation success is a better option for someone who is in paroxysmal vs. persistent AFib. Other factors that weigh in on success rate include:

  • Left atrial size – the bigger, the less success
  • Heart failure – heart muscle dysfunction equals less success
  • Women  – less success
  • Older – less success
  • People with lung disease – less success
  • People with diabetes – less success
  • Inflammation – less success

Related Post: What Women Need to Know About AFib

People with low cholesterol and low LDL have a four times higher risk of AFib recurrence after ablation. Understanding cholesterol is important!

Related Post: The Truth About Cholesterol Revealed

Research shows that even when ablation is done well, there is still a fivefold lower chance of long-term success for patients who do not fix major lifestyle issues.

Getting healthy before an ablation will help you stay healthy afterward!

As with all procedures, you must become the best version of yourself before a cardiac ablation. Be sure to go over all options with your doctor to confirm an ablation is necessary.

Related Post: 9 Common Misconceptions About Ablations

WATCHMAN Device

The WATCHMAN is a permanent heart implant device that reduces the risk of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation. Over 90 percent of strokes related to AFib happen due to clots that form in an area of the heart known as the left atrial appendage (LAA). The WATCHMAN device seals off this area of the heart, reducing the risk of stroke. This procedure is often used for people who do not tolerate blood-thinning medications well.

Always consult your medical practitioner before starting or stopping medication!

Chapter 9:

How to Reverse Atrial Fibrillation Naturally

Can you reverse AFib naturally? The answer to this is almost always a resounding yes! By making some simple nutritional and lifestyle changes, you can reduce the need for pharmaceuticals and procedures, and even reverse this complex arrhythmia. So many drivers of disease and AFib are within your control.

We can reverse AFib in just about every patient. But many factors go into the successful resolution. In general, the longer you are in AFib, the more difficult it is to resolve. But I believe that everyone deserves a chance at the natural approach. And ultimately, if we do not fix the AFib, we can prevent and treat other health conditions, thus allowing the patient to live their best and longest life, despite not being in normal heart rhythm. YES, you can achieve the 100 Year Heart even with AFib.

Dr. Jack Wolfson

The kind of life you live matters more than you could ever imagine. Don’t worry; you don’t have to change everything overnight – take baby steps – the key here is that you start moving forward toward the best version of yourself!

Related Post: Eating for Your 100 Year Heart

Eat REAL Organic Food

The First Step in Resolving AFib (and any health issue) is to look at what kind of fuel you are putting into your body. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is truly SAD, loaded with pro-inflammatory foods, additives, chemicals, unhealthy fats, and excessive amounts of refined sugar.

The best foods for overall heart health are those that:

  • Target inflammation 
  • Keep blood pressure under control 
  • Reduce oxidative stress 
  • Assist with detoxification

Powerhouse nutrients contained in whole, organic foods help improve energy levels, strengthen heart cells, increase nitric oxide, and provide beneficial antioxidants.

Related Post: 13 Reasons to Always Eat Organic

The simpler, the better. Whole foods, in their natural state with no additives, are best. If it comes in a package with words you can’t pronounce, don’t eat it. If your great, great, great grandmother would not have eaten it – don’t eat it. Eat real food, wholesome food. Food that will power your body towards balance and health.

Here are ten powerhouse foods to include in your AFib Reversal Diet – make sure to choose ORGANIC!

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10 foods to include in your AFib Reversal Diet

Fatty Fish

Raw Nuts

Broccoli

Olive Oil

Berries

Pastured Eggs

Grass-Fed and Finished Beef/Liver

Beets

Leafy Greens

Bone Broth/Collagen

Fatty Fish

Eat fatty fish such as wild-caught salmon, sardines, and anchovies three to five times a week. DHA and EPA, the fats found in these fish, stabilize heart cells, prevent arrhythmias, reduce cellular inflammation, lower your overall risk of AFib, and support cardiovascular health.

Raw Nuts

Raw nuts such as walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are a healthy choice for heart-related benefits. Almonds lower dense LDL cholesterol. Pistachios lower blood pressure and decrease total cholesterol, while walnuts help to keep arteries clear. They are high in ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is anti-inflammatory and shown to help reduce plaque buildup.

Broccoli

Broccoli contains fiber, fatty acids, and vitamins that support heart health. Keeping cholesterol levels in check is essential for people who struggle with AFib.

Medical doctors (MDs) learn how to diagnose a problem and put a label on it. We learn how to order tests, prescribe drugs, and perform surgery. We learn nothing about real prevention. Statin drugs, aspirin, stomach acid blockers, and osteoporosis drugs are not prevention. I am talking about a lack of education in nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Jack Wolfson

Olive Oil

Enjoy organic, cold-pressed olive oil. It is heart-healthy! A recent study showed that it potentially lowered the incidence of AFib. You can’t go wrong; olive oil is fantastic for overall health. It is high in powerful antioxidants and polyphenols and is associated with reduced stroke risk.

Berries

Raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are teeming with phytonutrients and antioxidants. Dietary antioxidants reduce toxic load, lower oxidative stress, decrease cellular inflammation, and boost heart muscle cell functioning. They contain crucial nutrients to prevent and heal cardiovascular conditions.

Pastured Eggs

Eggs are an abundant source of choline. Choline deficiency has been linked to mitochondrial dysfunction and increased AFib risk. Pastured eggs also contain other vitamins such as CoQ10 and B vitamins which help to improve heart muscle cell function.

The vitamin D content of eggs from chickens pastured in the sunshine is four times higher than eggs from chickens not exposed to sunlight.

Grass-Fed and Finished Beef/Liver

Specific nutrients create cellular energy and increase ATP production in heart muscle cells. This ATP is crucial to sustaining the mechanical work of the heart.

As the energy in heart cells increases, so does cardiac function. Grass-fed meat contains nutrients that support this process, such as carnitine, CoQ10, D-ribose, and taurine. The sum of these parts lowers the risk of AFib. 

Organ meat of grass-finished cows contains similar nutrients to the other meat. However, it is exceptionally high in B vitamins, CoQ10 (an antioxidant that increases energy uptake in heart cells and helps strengthen them), and Vitamin A. Eat heart to support your heart!

Related Post: The Truth About Intermittent Fasting and AFib

Beets

Beets are an essential source of dietary nitrates that the body converts to nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that allows the blood to flow smoothly through the arteries. NO reduces the severity and incidence of ventricular arrhythmias. Beets also have high magnesium levels, a crucial mineral for regulating heart rhythm.

Leafy Greens

Like beets, leafy greens are high in dietary nitrates and magnesium. Nitric oxide restores the endothelial lining by increasing blood flow and relaxing the blood vessels.

Bone Broth/Collagen

Bone broth is rich in collagen, which strengthens the heart. It also contains amino acids like glutamine and glycine, which heal and strengthen the heart’s muscle cells, stabilize the heart cell membrane, and increase cellular function. Bone broth is also very healing for the gut, and intestinal permeability or leaky gut can often be a root cause of AFib.

Related Post: How Bone Broth Can Heal Your Heart and How to Make Your Own

Get Sleep

Like eating and drinking, sleep is essential for life. Sleep is critical for both mental and physical health.

Sleep is necessary to heal and repair your heart and blood vessels.

We know that poor sleep is an independent risk factor for atrial fibrillation and leads to a breakdown in the healing and restoration process necessary for good health.

If you wake up groggy and struggle with fatigue during the day, you are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other dangerous conditions.

Related Post: 7 Reasons to Strip Naked Before Bed

What Lack of Sleep does to your Body

Although sleep is highly individualistic, it is generally recommended that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

Some signs that you may not be getting enough sleep include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Irritability or mood changes
  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of productivity
  • Increased appetite
  • Skin is dull, and you have dark circles under your eyes
  • Anxiety

  • Memory Issues
  • Trouble with thinking & concentration
  • Mood changes

1 of 8

  • Accidents

2 of 8

  • Weakened Immunity

3 of 8

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Risk of Heart Disease

4 of 8

  • Risk for Diabetes

5 of 8

  • Weight Gain

6 of 8

  • Low Sex Drive

7 of 8

  • Poor Balance

8 of 8

Related Post: How Sleep Affects your Heart

Sleep deprivation occurs when we don’t get enough sleep, but also if you:

  • Have a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea that causes poor quality sleep.
  • You sleep at the wrong time of the day – when you are out of sync with your body’s natural clock or circadian rhythm.
  • You wake up multiple times throughout the night.

Sleep is essential for proper immune function as your body needs rest to fight germs and invaders.

Related Post: Sleep This Way if You Have AFib

Getting enough sleep is also good for your waistline. Research shows that a lack of sleep decreases the production of leptin, the hormone that lets you know when you are full. Therefore, a lack of sleep means you might consume too many calories, leading to weight gain.

Did you Know?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help slash your stroke risk.

  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat clean, organic
  • Drink clean water
  • Get sunshine
  • Clean up toxins in your environment
  • Get active
  • Get adjusted
  • Manage stress
  • Care for your teeth

Get Sunshine

If someone told you to run around naked in your backyard daily, you would probably tell them they were nuts, right? However, the more skin you expose, the better!

The sun has been fueling the human body‘s vitamin D production since the beginning of time.

We wear more clothes today than our great ancestors did, and we spend more time indoors, away from the sun. These two factors have led to an increasing predominance of vitamin D deficiency, the catalyst for AFib, immune dysfunction, and disease.

Spend a little more time in the sun with fewer clothes each day.

Did you know that spending some time in the sun can help you live longer? A Swedish study of 30,000 women found that those who spent more time in the sun lived two years longer than those that did not.

Related Post: Science Says: Live Longer By Getting Sunshine Daily

Get Happy

Happy people live longer. Researchers have been studying the connection between joy and longevity for a very long time.

Happiness combats high blood pressure, a significant risk factor for AFib and heart disease. In one study, researchers found that people over 65 who had a positive outlook on life had a nine percent lower risk of high blood pressure than people who were not happy.

Happiness is associated with a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease. This is even after considering risk factors such as blood pressure, age, and cholesterol.

For people with heart disease, getting happy has a powerful impact. A review of top studies on heart disease shows that a positive attitude reduced the risk of death by 11 percent.

Related Post: 3 Ways Gratitude is Good for Your Heart

Being happy is also connected to making wise lifestyle choices which lead to better overall health and wellbeing. In one study, adults who had a positive attitude were 47 percent more likely to eat fresh veggies and fruits than those that were less positive.

The happier you are, the stronger your immune system. Researchers discovered that unhappy people are three times more likely to develop a common cold than more joyful people.

Find your joy and go there often. We all need a grounding force, something that brings a smile to our face or something that is unchanging and fosters gratitude!

Related Post: A Bad Attitude Can Wreck Your Heart: How to Develop Positivity and Keep It

Get Calm

We know that too much stress has a horrendous impact on overall mental and physical health. We also know that stress can trigger an AFib attack. The truth is, as long as we are living and breathing in the western world, we will experience stress. Learning how to be calm in the midst of the storm will help protect you from the corrosive impacts of stress.

Finding calm comes in different forms for different people. It’s all about being able to shut down, even just for a little while, and focus on breathing and centeredness.

Related Post: How to Stop an AFib Attack Fast

A great way to find calm is to support your autonomic nervous system. This system plays an essential role in initiating and continuing AFib and other conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Shutting off the “fight or flight” response is not easy, but developing stress management techniques and using them daily is a great place to start. Effective ways to support your autonomic nervous system and restore parasympathetic balance include:

Get a massage: Get a massage regularly to restore parasympathetic balance.

Practice breathing exercises: Deep breathing techniques have a positive impact on heart rate variability.

Practice Yoga: People who practice yoga have 50 percent fewer AFib episodes than people who do not.

Laugh: Watch your favorite comedy show or funny animal videos. Research shows that laughing has a strong, positive impact on the autonomic nervous system.

Related Post: 7 Stress-Busting Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Take a Technology Time Out

Data shows that mobile phones decrease heart rate variability. The more time you spend on your phone, the more damage it is causing. Our electrified world highly impacts AFib. Be sure to take a technology time-out daily for at least a few hours.

Dr. Jack Wolfson

Get Moving

The human body needs to be in motion. Nothing works as it should when we stay still for too long. Movement is essential for long-term health and the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

One study found that people who were active for just 15 minutes per day had a three-year longer lifespan than those who did not exercise.

The best exercise is short bursts of high-intensity movement.

Documented benefits of regular physical activity include:

  • Reduction in body weight
  • Reduction in blood pressure
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Improved good cholesterol
  • Increase in exercise tolerance
  • Improved ability to take in and use oxygen
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced pain

There is no need to go crazy in a toxic gym environment or run a marathon. Some of the best benefits of movement happen when you are simply consistent. Try to be active for at least fifteen minutes each day. Remember, the more time moving outdoors, the better. Nature and sunlight increase the benefits of any physical activity.

Related Post: The Truth About Exercise and AFib

Get Clean

They are hiding everywhere. In the food we eat, the air we breathe, what we put on our body, what we clean our homes and do laundry with, and even what we wear. We live in a toxic world full of poisons that create a toxic body.

Related Post: Shocking Truth About Hidden Toxins and Your Heart

Toxins undermine bodily functions. They accelerate aging by lowering the body’s ability to combat free radicals. They displace minerals, leading to weaker bones, damage cell membranes, interfere with healthy hormones, and impair your detoxification ability. All of this impacts the entire body, including the heart.

Related Post: 9 Ways to Get Squeaky Clean Fast

Get Oral Health

There is a bacteria battle going on in your mouth! The human mouth is teeming with bacteria. Most are good, but many are incredibly harmful. If the nasty bacteria stick around, they can cause disease in the mouth and throughout the body, including the heart and other major organs.

Smoking increases the risk of other health conditions such as diabetes, COPD, coronary heart disease, and heart failure, which make the risk of AFib greater. Nicotine is implicated in fibrosis of the heart, which can lead to arrhythmia.

Related Post: How Keeping Your Mouth Clean Protects Your Health

There are numerous benefits of adopting excellent oral hygiene, including:

  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Reduced joint inflammation
  • Improved sexual function
  • Better respiratory health
  • Reduced risk of certain cancers
  • Reduced risk of stroke
  • Lower risk of kidney disease
  • Brain cell protection
  • Reduced risk of diabetes complications
  • Improved fertility

Yes, it takes some effort to keep your teeth and mouth clean, but it is seriously worthwhile.

Get Adjusted

Chiropractic care helps AFib by addressing the underlying causes. Our brains communicate with our bodies via the central nervous system. There is not one function in the human body that is not dependent on this communication. When the spine is not healthy or aligned, there is a break in this communication.

Chiropractors help restore proper communication channels within the body via the nervous system. When the body is talking to itself properly, healing can occur.

Here are just some ways that a regular visit to a skilled chiropractor is beneficial for AFib:

  • Chiropractic care balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. An adjustment corrects places where the spine is out of alignment, which helps to restore proper nerve function.
  • Getting a regular adjustment lowers systemic inflammation. The key here is regular.
  • A study published in the Human Journal of Hypertension found that getting adjusted provided people with high blood pressure the same benefits as taking a certain blood pressure medicine.

If you are new to chiropractic care, it may seem strange at first but stick with it. Your first visit will involve an overall assessment and an adjustment. Chiropractors care about your overall health and wellbeing and will do all they can to restore your physical body to a state of balance.

Related Post: Everything You Need to Know About Chiropractic Care and Your Heart

Chapter 10:

The Best Evidence-Based Testing and Supplements

Millions of people suffer from AFib. However, each individual is unique. You are unique. Specific testing is essential to avoid a blanket approach to treating, reversing, and preventing atrial fibrillation.

When you find the cause, you have the cure. That is why I am so critical of the typical cardiology approach of pharmaceuticals and ablations. They don’t go after the cause. We have discussed many different causes of AFib, including nutrition, sunshine, sleep, and toxins. But we can dig deeper into these topics to understand your individual needs by doing the most advanced blood testing in the world.

Dr. Jack Wolfson

This testing provides a detailed analysis of what will work best for you, your body, and your nutritional and supplemental needs. Taking a highly individualized approach results in better long-term results and a healthier you!

Conventional doctors know little, if anything at all, about the value of adding supplements to the diet. Because of this, you hear very little about their benefits, which are immense! Pharmaceutical companies sponsor everything from medical schools to hospitals, pharmacies, and even government officials, making matters worse.

Learn More About the Comprehensive Testing Packages Offered at Natural Heart Doctor


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Why do we need supplements?

Even if you eat a super healthy, organic, and whole food diet, you need supplements. Here are the top reasons why even the healthiest person benefits from supplements:

Soil Destruction

​Intensive farming extracts a lot of nutrients from the soil. Without these essential nutrients, food quality is inferior.
Even the best organic fruits and veggies lack essential nutrients like selenium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, boron, etc.
Farmers with the best intentions cannot add all of the critical nutrients to any particular food. Pollution and toxins also impact the soil. Farmers are planting in soil that has lost the best and taken on the worst!

Water Toxins

​Whenever a field is watered, from rain or irrigation, the water is tainted. Acid rain, water treatment centers, and contaminated rivers determine water quality. Imagine how amazing the water was thousands of years ago.

Air Pollution

​All plants exist in an air bath. The quality of the air that surrounds the plants is inferior. This suffocates the plant and leads to poor nutrient quality.

Natural Heart Doctor AFib Supplement Protocol

The AFib protocol provides micronutrients to support normal heart rhythm, immune health, and autonomic system balance and reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. We offer three levels of support for an individualized approach.


Learn More

Related Post: The Best Tips and Tricks for Sticking to Your Supplement Routine

Be Aware of Supplement Interactions

Supplements are powerful. Super powerful. Because of this, it is essential to check with your physician/pharmacist about interactions. Supplements can lower blood pressure and lower heart rate. In addition, supplements can make pharmaceuticals more or less powerful. Get educated before taking supplements. Whenever you start a new supplement, watch for symptoms. You may have some detox symptoms as you get healthy.

Takeaway:

Each time your heart goes into AFib, it is easy to become scared and feel hopeless. We know that you feel as if you are “walking on eggshells,” waiting for the next time the monster in your chest will wake up and growl.

It is our sincere desire that, after reading this guide, you are filled with a new ambition to dig for roots and start taking steps to achieve your 100 Year Heart! To put that monster down for good.

Now is the time to begin, focus, and move towards health. The Natural Heart Doctor team is here for you every step of the way, from diagnosis to testing to treatment.

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