Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances) Treatment: Diet
Dietary modification and supplements may be worthwhile complements to standard care for arrhythmias.
The following dietary modifications are recommended for people with arrhythmias:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet: A diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body weight—three heart attack risk factors.
- Consume a diet that helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can put a strain on the heart muscle. If you are overweight, adopt a sensible eating plan that will enable you to lose weight gradually and maintain your weight at the desired level. One indicator of healthy weight is body mass index. BMI of 25 and above is associated with high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and increased risk of heart disease.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all: Excessive use of alcohol can weaken the heart and predispose it to arrhythmias. Alcohol also may react with certain heart medications. Moderate drinking is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Watch out for caffeine: Caffeine stimulates the heart and may cause minor palpitations. Depending on the severity of your arrhythmia, you may want to reduce or eliminate your consumption of caffeine-containing foods and beverages. Sources of caffeine include (but are not limited to) caffeinated coffee and tea, chocolate, and many sodas.
For more lifestyle modifications for arrhythmias, click here.
Then following supplements are often recommended for the treatment of arrhythmias:
- Magnesium: Especially for people taking digoxin and loop diuretics, which can cause magnesium deficiency
- Potassium: Especially for people taking thiazide diuretics, which can cause potassium deficiency
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): Especially for people anticipating open-heart surgery, which carries a risk of atrial fibrillation, an arrhythmia that may be prevented by supplementing with NAC
Fish oil is also commonly recommended for people with heart-related conditions such as arrhythmias. Although the use of fish oil to help prevent dangerous heart arrhythmias has received considerable research attention,1-2,15-17,20,22-24 the evidence for its effectiveness is mixed. Because the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can be beneficial for overall health, and other aspects of heart health, a fish oil supplement may be worthwhile anyway.
Supplements that are sometimes recommended for arrhythmias, but not yet extensively studied for this purpose, include:
Some arrhythmias are caused or exacerbated by anxiety or stress. For information on supplements that are recommended for anxiety, click here.
Note: Some arrhythmias are serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. If you have a serious arrhythmia, you should be seeing a doctor. Natural treatments such as supplements and dietary modifications might be helpful complements to standard care.
Effect of Magnesium on Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)
Magnesium may have many beneficial effects on the heart. Our bodies need mangesium for healthy functioning, including muscle relaxation, blood clotting, and the manufacture of ATP (adenosine...
Read more about Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances) and Magnesium.
Effect of Potassium on Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)
The most common use of potassium supplements is to make up for potassium depletion caused by diuretic drugs. By depleting the body of potassium, some diuretics can cause or worsen...
Read more about Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances) and Potassium.
Effect of N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) on Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)
The exact effect of NAC on arrhythmias is not clear. When taken orally, NAC is thought to help the body make the important antioxidant enzyme glutathione.
Read more about Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances) and N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC).
Effect of Heart-Healthy Diet on Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)
This diet is believed to have many benefits for the heart, including helping to keep blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in a healthy range.
Read more about Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances) and Heart-Healthy Diet.
- Sellmayer A, Witzgall H, Lorenz RL, et al. Effects of dietary fish oil on ventricular premature complexes. Am J Cardiol. 1995;76:974-977.
- Marchioli R, Barzi F, Bomba E, et al. Early protection against sudden death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids after myocardial infarction: time-course analysis of the results of the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell'Infarto Miocardico (GISSI)-Prevenzione. Circulation. 2002;105:1897-1903.
- Calo L, Bianconi L, Colivicchi F, et al. N-3 Fatty acids for the prevention of atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass surgery: a randomized, controlled trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005;45:1723-1728.
- Geelen A, Brouwer IA, Schouten EG, et al. Effects of n-3 fatty acids from fish on premature ventricular complexes and heart rate in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81:416-420.
- Raitt MH, Connor WE, Morris C, et al. Fish oil supplementation and risk of ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation in patients with implantable defibrillators: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2005;293:2884-2891.
- Jenkins DJ, Josse AR, Beyene J, et al. Fish-oil supplementation in patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators: a meta-analysis. CMAJ. 2008;178:157-164.
- Nodari S, Metra M, Milesi G, et al. The Role of n-3 PUFAs in preventing the arrhythmic risk in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2008 Nov 4.
- Saravanan P, Bridgewater B, West AL, et al. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation does not reduce risk of atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass surgery: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2010 Feb 1;3(1):46.
- Kowey PR, Reiffel JA, Ellenbogen KA, Naccarelli GV, Pratt CM. Efficacy and safety of prescription omega-3 fatty acids for the prevention of recurrent symptomatic atrial fibrillation: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2010;304(21):2363-2372.