Racing heart or skipped beats? If you are not in love or being chased by a lion, then you’re having palpitations. If this sounds like what you or somebody you know are experiencing, don’t miss this episode of The Healthy Heart Show. Today, Dr. Jack Wolfson D.O., F.A.C.C., the founder of Natural Heart Doctor, and Dr. Lauren Lattanza talk about palpitations, the symptoms, and underlying conditions. He also shares insights on the effective way of identifying the causes of your palpitations and the proven-effective treatments. Don’t ignore these symptoms. Test, don’t guess, and tune in to get tips on how you can Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well and start your path to a 100 year heart.
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Heart Palpitations: Real Solutions From Natural Heart Doctor Jack Wolfson
Welcome to another episode. I am here with our favorite guest, Dr. Jack Wolfson, Board Certified Cardiologist coming to you from your home of the 100-year heart Natural Heart Doctor. We have a very excellent episode for you, an all-too-common symptom. We will be talking about palpitations. Welcome, Dr. Jack Wolfson. What do you get for us to talk about with palpitations?
Thanks so much, Dr. Lattanza. It’s great to connect again. Palpitations are something that you and I have seen so many times. I’ve certainly seen a lot of it over my cardiology career. It’s an issue that many people suffer with. They don’t get a lot of relief because oftentimes, the palpitations and these feelings that they get and we’ll talk about what they are and the typical symptoms, are often swept under the rug by conventional medicine or they try a pharmaceutical that only leads to more symptoms and doesn’t resolve symptoms. It’s something that we can help out many people. Many younger women struggle with this. It tends to be a younger person’s issue. It’s such an important topic for us to discuss here on the show.
An overview, what are palpitations? Oftentimes, I ask patients, “Do you have palpitations?” That’s not a very maybe widely understood piece of terminology that we throw around.
Most people don’t come in and complain of palpitations, although it is our medical diagnosis that we call someone with those symptoms. It’s a symptom and we’ll label it as palpitations. What the patient or client typically does is they’re going to say heart racing, fluttering, skipping, pounding or flip-flops, the typical things that you and I both heard so many different times. Ultimately, we’ll label that as palpitations but what we need to do from there is to figure out why they have those palpitations. As we do that, sometimes people say, “Are they normal?” They’re not normal to have these palpitations symptoms like racing, fluttering or skipping but it’s certainly common. These are happening because of the way we eat, live and think. It’s a great opportunity for us to do something about it.
There are many contributing factors. Maybe it’s a mental and emotional component. Maybe it’s a medication, food sensitivity or an underlying arrhythmia that’s yet to be diagnosed. What heart rhythm issues are contributing to palpitations?
It’s what we call the differential diagnosis. What are all the possibilities when somebody has a heart racing, fluttering, skipping and flip-flops? First of all, it could be nothing where we look at a monitor and there’s nothing going on. It could be sinus tachycardia where the heart is racing. It’s almost like they’re watching TV but their heart is racing like they’re running a marathon. That would be abnormal and also very common PACs, PVCs, Premature Atrial Complexes and Premature Ventricular Complexes, previously labeled as contractions but the more correct term is complexes.
It could be something a little more sinister like atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter or an AV nodal reentrant tachycardia. Even the most sinister of all would be ventricular tachycardia, which certainly would be a problem. What we need to do at that point is, “Now that we have identified what the palpitations are from, what are we going to do about it?”
What makes these so dangerous?
Atrial fibrillation has a risk with it. PACs and PVCs are not much of a risk. Although PACs, Premature Atrial Complexes can increase the likelihood of atrial fibrillation down the road. Certainly, if somebody has AFib and if they’ve got a ventricular dysrhythmia like ventricular tachycardia, that can be life-threatening. That’s why we need to figure out exactly what it is.
Palpitations are happening because of the way we eat, the way we live, and the way we think but it’s a great opportunity for us to do something about it.
Fortunately, those issues are not as common. Ultimately, when someone has symptoms of palpitations skips, flip flops and stuff like that, we can figure it out. When they’re linked to significant lightheadedness, syncope or passing out, it becomes more of a medical emergency that we need to dive into what is leading to that particular. We’ll talk about the tests to diagnose that.
Knowing that maybe you’re having these palpitations intermittently. They are occasionally maybe once a week where you wake up with your heart pounding or feel like you skip a beat here and there. It’s not always the case that you find yourself on the table getting an ECG at that moment in time. What is the best way to test for figuring out what is the underlying situation or arrhythmia?
The best test is the Zio Patch that we do. It’s a small device that sits on the outside of the chest for two weeks. Somebody peels that off their chest and throws it into an envelope. We get to interpret that to see what’s happening. If someone has symptoms that are frequent enough inside of the two-week window, that’s great. If someone says, “I only have symptoms every few months,” that’s not going to be the best test for them but if someone’s having frequent symptoms on a daily or every few days, we should be able to cut something on the Zio.
That’s also a great point too as far as safety. When someone has symptoms for many years, that’s typically a safe thing. When someone says they’ve been having symptoms of racing heart feelings for the last couple of weeks and had an episode where they’re passed out, that makes things a lot more urgent. To your point, the ECG is a beneficial tool and everybody should get that. It’s not likely going to catch the cause of their symptoms unless they have that symptomatology in that ten-second window of the EKG.
I often talk to patients, “If it falls within once every two weeks or you have this a couple of times a month, we do want to get that Zio Patch going so that we can qualify exactly what the arrhythmia is going on.”
The Zio Patch monitors every single heartbeat for two weeks so it picks up so much. In my old days, as practicing cardiologists, we used to implant a lot of what are called loop recorders. Those go under the skin and can stay in for a couple of years. Those are reserved for people that have severe symptoms and occur pretty sporadically. Let’s say every three months they suddenly pass out. That’s a great implanted device but for most people, we don’t need to go that far.
What other testing would you say is necessary? Would you want to get an echocardiogram, maybe a stress test?
An echocardiogram helps risk to stratify someone. Are they at any risk or danger? For somebody with a ventricular rhythm problem or somebody with atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, we need an echocardiogram. PACs, PVCs not so much. The cardiologists reflexively order and stress testing is how the cardiologists make a lot of their money.
The only time stress testing is needed would be if somebody has ventricular tachycardia. Even in that scenario, the best thing to do is maybe to skip the stress test and go straight to an angiogram or even a CT angiogram to assess for significant obstructive coronary artery disease. Those are pretty much the main tests that we’re going to do with that standard cardiology hat. You and I are going to dive into the stuff that we do at Natural Heart Doctor to help these people.
In the conventional space, what pharmaceuticals have tried to read these palpitations, racing heartbeats or skipped beats the patients get administered?
I’ve had so much experience with this over the years and unfortunately, in the toolbox of the cardiologist, they don’t have one. They’ve got beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and beta-blockers like Atenolol, Metoprolol and Carvedilol. Calcium channel blockers are Verapamil and Diltiazem. They’re not effective. The way I like to explain this too is that those medicines slow down the heart and may not block the abnormal PAC or PVC from coming through.
It’s like if you go to the carousel at the amusement park. That’s like spinning around on the carousel. It’s got the horses and all that stuff going up and down and the kids love it. If the carousel was going very fast, you can’t get on there because that would be very dangerous. You’re not going to try and jump on a fast-moving carousel but if it slows down enough, you can get on that carousel. I don’t advise that.
It can be dangerous as well but at least you could. That’s the same thing with the heart. If the heart is going fast, typically those extra beats can’t get in there. If the heart is slowing down because of the pharmaceutical, those extra beats have an opportunity to jump in. A lot of times beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers make somebody’s symptoms worse, which is why so many people come to see us for this issue.
They get fed up because they’ve been thrown the book by conventional and it’s still not working and not getting rid of their main concerns. That’s where we come in. What would you say is the overview of the philosophy of our treatment here at Natural Heart Doctor?
Our philosophy is based on eating well, living well and thinking well. From there, we go into tests, don’t guess and then we use evidence-based supplements. We want to know why does someone have PAC or PVCs? Why does someone have sinus tachycardia? Why does someone have atrial rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter? Why does somebody have ventricular tachycardia? Why does somebody have AV nodal reentrant tachycardia? What’s so great about what we do is that we offer people so much success. We have a bunch of wonderful testimonials as well from people who’ve achieved such success with our methodologies, not only for palpitations but certainly everything else. That’s Natural Heart Doctor.
If we find the cause, within that lies the cure. We have to use our specialized testing. Let’s break down the eat well, live well and think well. As it pertains to palpitations, what will we do to eat well?
Gluten consumption leads to leaky gut, and leaky gut leads to leaky hearts.
One thing too is that as we get to eat well, we can also talk about keeping a diary around your symptoms. You don’t have to keep a diary all the time, although you’re certainly welcome to. If your symptoms are bad on a particular day, what did you eat the night before? How did you sleep the night before? Did you drink any alcohol the night before? Try to look for some common thread. Was it food? Was it night’s sleep? Was it alcohol? Was it stress? Did you get into a fight with your spouse or significant other or something work-related that led to that travel-related? That’s what you dial in with that.
Our recommendations are always the same for whatever medical diagnosis. Our philosophy is to eat like our ancestors’ free-range, grass-fed meats, nose-to-tail nutrition and delivering the heart. We got that new product called Kick Start My Heart. That’s the liver and heart combination product from free-range bison. We recommend even a lot of seafood because Omega 3s are critical when it comes to quieting down the heart and normal heart rhythm.
From there, eggs, avocado, coconuts, nut seeds, fruit in season and vegetables are our strategy. Gluten is a major factor when it comes to palpitations. We’ve got testimonials. We’ve seen that before. Gluten consumption leads to a leaky gut. A leaky gut leads to leaky hearts. When you have leaky hearts, you suffer the heart rhythm consequences of it. Remember no matter what diet you’re on, always make your food organic. That’s a great place to start.
You mentioned pairing that with a nutrition journal and a symptom journal so that you can say, “Did I go out to eat at a restaurant? Was it something that was out of my control that I ingested and maybe that was a trigger?” Working to identify the triggers is very helpful in working to identify the cure for your palpitations. That goes hand in hand. A common question that I get and I’m sure you do as well is how do we feel about coffee in patients with palpitations?
That’s where the diary comes in. Every time you have caffeine, what does it do? Cardiologists tend to blanket statements that say everybody to avoid caffeine or coffee. That’s a mistake. There’s so much evidence on the cardiovascular and other health benefits of coffee, especially the good stuff like cardiology coffee. If you drink caffeine and it makes your symptoms worse, you’re going to have to make a decision whether or not you want to avoid it.
As far as caffeine and coffee causing life-threatening rhythm problems, the answer is no. I would think alcohol is much more of a problem, not so much where you’re drinking the alcohol but the next day like that holiday heart syndrome, which is very common to lead to heart rhythm issues and certainly atrial fibrillation. I’d be much more likely to think that alcohol is a factor as opposed to caffeine.
I talk to patients and often find that they can’t drink because the following day they have this anxiety. I call it hangxiety. You have these palpitations, the shakiness, all of that. You can identify it as some electrolyte imbalances. There are some fluid shifts. Toxins floating around in your body. It’s certainly doing yourself more of a disservice than any benefit that you can find and drinks. How about live well? What can we do to live better in terms of palpitations?
Live well is a much more extensive thing. Everybody focuses on the food story but there’s so much more to it. For example, under the live well category, sleep. We know that when you get adequate amounts of sleep, your heart rhythm tends to be better than if you have a short amount of sleep, 6, 7 hours or less, where you’re much more likely to have heart rhythm issues. Make sure you get your sleep. Ideally, we tell people that right after sundown, wake up naturally before the sunrise and watch the sunrise and the sunset. That’s the best way to do it.
The more sun exposure you get, the higher your levels of Vitamin D and so many other factors. We want to make sure we get plenty of sun exposure. We get our sleep, sun and physical activity perfectly outdoors. The more time we’re outdoors, the better. We want to avoid environmental toxins and pollutants, which can easily lead to heart rhythm issues. Don’t forget to be under the care of a chiropractor. That’s fantastic for the heart and heart rhythm. Holistically address those dental issues as well.
Under the blanket of live well would certainly be pharmaceuticals. If you’re overdoing thyroid medication, you might have some racing heart and some real thumping in your chest. There are all kinds of medications that can contribute to palpitations as well. Work to live a life without pharmaceuticals as best you can, certainly under the care of a provider working to identify the true cause and treatment of any ailment.
Whether it’s patient demand or the doctors that reach for thyroid replacements, that can lead to issues that we should look at as well. What are your thoughts about hormone replacement therapy, whether we’re talking about males or females? Have you seen anything that you thought would be related to heart rhythm problems that people are having?
I’m all for hormone replacement if it’s truly necessary. I can’t tell you how many patients I have that come in here. They were overdone on hormone replacement via thyroid, testosterone and estrogens. They feel lousy on their progesterone and are taking too much. They’re sleepy all day. I see patients all over the board and maybe that practitioner that administered those was trying to do the right thing. The patients come in with their testosterone well over 1,200. Their blood is like molasses. They’re putting their fist through a wall or racing. There’s a narrow window that needs to do some hormone replacement. It should be done with a conservative approach.
Even a lot of holistic doctors, they’ve reached for hormones first. You and I are both in favor of hormone optimization but let’s make sure that we dial in this eat well, live well, think well philosophy, test, don’t guess and use some evidence-based supplements. If the hormones are still not where they need to be, that’s an opportunity to use the bioidenticals and most natural means but also keep a close eye. People aren’t being overdosed on them.
They often are. If you’ve got low energy, the first treatment approach should not be to increase your thyroid or testosterone. Figure out why you’re tired. We look at it with a much more discerning eye. Let’s talk about think well.
Stress does not get the billing bed that it needs. There’s so much debate about nutrition. There are so many trials with pharmaceuticals and stuff like that. You need to take a good stress inventory on people because as we have stress in our lives, it leads to abnormal adrenaline, adrenal issues and all these different hormonal issues. When you’re under stress, your body is not taking care of itself.
There are many different factors related to that. When people complain all the time that it’s a stressful situation, all of a sudden, their heart starts to pound. That would be normal. If you think you’re getting chased by a tiger, your heart’s going to pound. When people are not happy in their relationship or career, it undoubtedly leads to heart rhythm problems.
Remember, no matter what diet you’re on, always make your food organic. That’s a great place to start.
With the anxiety and stress-ridden society that we live in, it has become normalized to be burnt out and worn too thin. Overburdened has become all too normalized. The issues are in the tissue. The body recognizes it even if you choose to mentally sweep things under the rug. Your hormones are still cranking. You’re still pumping out cortisol and adrenaline. The normal physiologic response is to increase your heart rate.
Over time, we don’t want that because that will increase inflammation systemically. We’re going to work to identify and figure out the best approach for you. It’s easy for us to say to use good stress management techniques and calm your stress but what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Figure out what it is that you can do in your day-to-day life to properly manage those stressors.
When you are under stress, you’re not eating the right foods, sleeping and doing the self-care things that you should be doing. To your point, seek out help when necessary to help you deal with these issues. It’s very important. In your experience, you’ve seen the same thing whether it’s a heart attack, a stroke or a heart rhythm problem. Almost invariably, it was precipitated by some episode of stress, whether the person realized it or not there was something and they had the symptoms.
You’re choosing what to eat when you’re stressed out and if you are eating, no matter what it is you’re eating while you’re stressed, it increases your inflammatory response from that meal as well. If you’re stressed out, don’t sit at your work table or desk and eat your meal. Step away and make time for your meal, try to calm down and make space for that. Test and don’t guess, we can’t just guess if we’re doing it right. What would you say are the most important tests to assess in a patient with palpitations?
We do different levels of testing. We’ve developed levels 1 through 4. Level two testing is a great place for the majority of people to start. With that level two testing, we do all the advanced cardiovascular markers and things like thyroid but also inside is the inflammation. If you’ve got inflammation, you’re likely going to have heart rhythm problems. Let’s find out if you’re inflamed. Let’s check your thyroid, blood sugar, uric acid, homocysteine and all those things. We’re also going to do a deep dive into intracellular vitamins and minerals. A lot of people are told, “If you’ve got palpitations, take magnesium.” It’s not always a magnesium issue.
Let’s test, don’t guess. What if it’s a potassium issue and your magnesium is fine? What are your Omega-3 levels, Vitamin D levels, Vitamin A levels, glutathione or CoQ10? We could go on and on with all that super-duper in-depth testing. We talked about that leaky gut and leaky heart. Let’s test you for a leaky gut. That test of course is very valuable when we’re looking at the leaky gut and wheat and gluten sensitivities.
We do the triple toxin test. Are you high in toxic metals? Those metals can interfere with magnesium, potassium and other functions. For example, beryllium is something we test for. Most people have never heard of beryllium interfering with magnesium. We need to make sure that’s not an issue. We do the mold mycotoxins.
Mold mycotoxins released from the molds undoubtedly lead to cardiovascular rhythm issues amongst everything else and also the environmental toxins panels. Could your symptoms be from pesticides, valets, parabens, VOCs or plastics? The answer is yes. You and I see it daily. Once we find those abnormalities, we start to replace them with evidence-based supplements along with eat well, live well and think well. That’s why we’re so successful.
I often tell patients that we don’t want to throw mud at a wall and see what sticks. Sometimes magnesium helps a lot of patients. Sometimes it’s that or that. We don’t want to guess. We have to get it in black and white rather than throwing sensors and supplements at something and assuming that it’s going to work. See what your body is falling for. We make a personalized approach for that individual. What are some of the more common evidence-based supplements that are successful in treating palpitations?
Magnesium certainly has a role but we want to make sure what the levels are. First and foremost, any kind of magnesium can be helpful, except for magnesium oxide. That’s why we created our product called Magne 5. That’s a great place to start. It’s 2 caps 2 times a day. Three caps at bedtime often help but don’t forget about potassium. Our potassium boost is a high-dose potassium powder. As long as they’re not with renal failure and severe kidney disease, they’re fine with those.
Omega-3 supplementation can be very helpful in this arena as well. The B vitamins are a great thing to support a good probiotic. There are so many different things that can do it. Ultimately, we go into the test, don’t guess. That’s where we try and make a difference. Many people out there are having issues. They’re trying to self-diagnose and self-treat. They may stumble across the right answer. Ideally, when you’re dealing with doctors and professionals like us at Natural Heart Doctor, that’s how people get success.
I had a new patient who was having severe daily palpitations that were lasting these episodes two hours or more. She hadn’t had an outright diagnosis of what the arrhythmia was but we did all of these testings. We’re waiting for her Zio Patch to come back. Her micronutrient test was the lowest Omega-3s I’ve ever seen on anybody. We got her on Omega-3s, no palpitations since. It can often be a very simple answer if we do the right testing.
When we do the testing, it provided so much more information to help their palpitations and everything else. It helps the brain, liver, lungs and digestive tract. It’s also about the 100-year hearts. Can we help with the palpitation symptoms but can we also make sure you’re on your path to the 100-year heart? That’s where the testing comes in. Ideally, we come up with our treatment strategies and protocols. We retest down the road and see how we did. Not only did we resolve your symptoms but did we also change some of those abnormal blood tests and urine tests, which keep you on that path to the 100-year heart.
How can people work with Natural Heart Doctor to get help with their symptoms?
You know exactly how they can do that. They can give us a call and we are happy to help. You can order the testing directly from our website. You can go over it with one of the coaches like Dr. Lauren Lattanza or Dr. Jack Wolfson to get the testing done. Go over it with somebody to be able to assist you on this. That’s what we’re here for at Natural Heart Doctor. We’re here to help people with their symptoms and keep them out of the hands of conventional cardiologists and conventional medical doctors because they’re not going to get a resolution.
You and I have both seen so many people who have been to conventional cardiologists and tried pharmaceuticals but it makes people feel worse. It’s certainly not addressing the cause, even if it was a Band-aid. If someone has PAC or PVCs, it’s not because they’re deficient in beta-blockers. There’s a reason for that. What we do is we find that reason.
They’ve been through the wringer. They’re getting that up and starting to lose hope. If this sounds like you or somebody you know, send them our way. We will talk to them, figure out exactly what testing is essential and get them on the right path. Eat well, live well and think well so that they can get to your 100-year heart. Thank you so much for reading. Any last-minute additions, Dr. Jack Wolfson?
It’s another wonderful episode. Thank you, Dr. Lauren and everybody out there. Cheers to your 100-year heart.
- Natural Heart Doctor
- Kick Start My Heart
- Magne 5
About Dr. Jack Wolfson
Jack Wolfson D.O., F.A.C.C., is a board-certified cardiologist who uses nutrition, lifestyle and supplements to prevent and treat heart disease. He completed a 4 year medical degree, 3 year internal medicine residency and 3 year cardiology fellowship. He served as the Chief Fellow of his cardiology program, managing all of the other cardiology trainees.
Dr. Wolfson then joined the largest cardiology group in the state of Arizona and spent 10 years as a hospital-based cardiologist performing angiograms, pacemakers, and other cardiac procedures. He was the Chairman of Medicine, Director of Cardiology and Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation.
He was selected by his peers as one of the Arizona “Top Docs” in 2011. In 2012, Dr. Wolfson founded Natural Heart Doctor to offer patients the ultimate in holistic heart care. People from all over the world consult with Dr. Wolfson, traveling to Arizona or virtually for natural heart care.
Dr. Wolfson has appeared on every major news station and major newspaper along with hundreds of appearances at live events, podcasts, and online interviews. He has taught medical doctors and practitioners from all over the world.
Dr. Wolfson was recognized as one of the Top 50 Holistic Medical Practitioners. The Paleo Cardiologist, The Natural Way to Heart Health is the first book by Dr. Wolfson and is an Amazon best-seller. He is also a contributing author to The Textbook of Integrative Cardiology.
About Dr. Lauren Lattanza
As a Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Lattanza is trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease. Knowing that the world we live in is full of toxic elements, sedentary lifestyles, nutrient depleted food sourcing, and environmental chemicals, it is Dr. Lattanza’s goal and passion to identify the often overlooked causes of disease. She offers specialized testing and treatments to optimize patients’ health which can prevent, decrease, or eliminate the need for pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Lattanza is based in Scottsdale, Arizona and helps patients across the US reclaim vitality and work towards their 100 year heart.