Arrhythmia

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Arrhythmia
Heart muscle.jpg

Arrhythmia
Causes Dietary Factors, Pollution, Exercise, Stress
See Also Cardiovascular Conditions, Hyperthyroidism, Congestive Heart Failure
Books Books on Cardiovascular Conditions
Articles Articles on Cardiovascular Conditions

Arrhythmia, also known as cardiac dysrhythmia or irregular heartbeat is defined as an alteration in rhythm of the heart in either force or time.[1] These abnormal heart rhythms can be too fast, too slow, simply irregular, or conducted through improper electrical pathways of the heart.[2] Normally the heart functions in a predictable and highly regulated sequence based on its shape and the body’s needs and each individual will have a unique resting heart rate or sinus rhythm anywhere between 60 to 100 beats per minute. When it is beating irregularly the patient may describe that they are aware of their heart rate also known as palpitations.[3]

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With arrhythmia, the causes are variable and include lifestyle and environmental factors. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to arrythmia.

Lifestyle

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Article Treating Atrial Fibrillation and Decreasing Risk Naturally , NDNR;2011 October [1]
Article Calming Atrial Fibrillation, Naturopathic Medicine for a Common Condition , NDNR; 2011 October [2]
  • Some arrhythmias like sinus tachycardia are normal with exercise.[4]

Social

  • Emotional triggers or anxiety can predispose individuals to arrhythmias.[4]

Environmental

  • Environment
  • High altitude may cause an increased heart rate such as sinus tachycardia.[4]
  • Pollution

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Sympathomimetic drugs, theophylline compounds and insulin can lead to fast heart rate.[3]

Physiology

  • General toxicity may manifest as irregularities in heart rhythm.[6]
  • Age
  • Elderly populations most commonly suffer from atrial fibrillation.[3]

Diagnostic Testing

Heart fitness.jpg

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Arrhythmias are associated with a number of other conditions such as:

  • Lower stomach problems may be associated with skipped beats whereas upper stomach problems may be associated with extra beats.[6]
  • Hyperthyroidism is associated with faster than average resting heart rate.[4]
  • Anemia is a risk factor for tachycardia.[4]
Article Heart Failure from AF, NDNR; 2013 February
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF) can lead to tachycardia or bradycardia.[4]
  • Hyperactive states of the human body such as fever, anxiety and agitated depression can lead to tachycardia.[3]
  • Pheochromocytoma is a potentially serious cause of catecholamine elevation resulting in arrhythmia and other manifestations like sweating, hypertension, tremor, and nervousness.[3]
  • Pregnancy can lead to palpitations and slower or faster heart rates.[3]

Characteristics

Arrhythmias are a group of conditions in which there is abnormal electrial activity in the heart. The heart beat may be fast, slow, regular or irregular. Arrythmias can range from being totally benign to being a warning that underlying cardiovascular disease is present.[3]

  • In general arrhythmias originating in the atrium tend to be less serious than those in the ventricles, however all arrhythmias may put an individual at risk for complications such as stroke since depending on the type can cause turbulent blood flow and increase likelihood of clot formation.[3]

Common Symptoms

  • Patient may describe that their heart is racing, skipping, flopping or fluttering, this sensation is known as palpitations.[3]

Some examples of arrhythmias include; atrial premature beats, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, ventricular premature beats, ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, pacemaker dysfunction, heart block, and bundle branch block.[2]

  • Some of the different types of arrhythmia include:[4]
Tachycardia refers to a heart rate at 100-160 beats per minute(bpm).
Bradycardia refers to a heart rate less than <60 bpm.
Atrial premature beats or premature atrial contraction (PAC) has early irregular beats on ECG with other normal features. Is sometimes confused with atrial flutter when they occur close together for some time.
Article Calming Atrial Fibrillation, Naturopathic Medicine for a Common Condition, NDNR, 2011 October
Atrial fibrillation has a QRS complex that is irregularly spaced out, no regular rhythm, constantly changing R-R intervals, absent P waves(sometimes) and flutter waves seen between QRS complexes. Often worse with exercise.
Ventricular fibrillation has a low cardiac output, coarse or fine waves on ECG and a rate that is indeterminable.
Supraventricular tachyarrhythmia has paroxysms of palpitations, weakness, dizziness, angina, dyspnea, and large quantities of urine.
Premature ventricular contractions (PVC) refer to early abnormal QRS complexes (wide, inverted or upright), T wave in opposite direction from QRS, no P waves therefore indeterminable PR interval, normal rhythm followed by pause. Can have every other beat as a PVC in bigeminy or every third beat as a PVC in trigeminy.
Heart Blocks refer to
First degree heart block have a delay in conduction, long PR interval (>0.20 sec), P waves present with regular rate and rhythm.
Second degree heart block (Mobitz type I) have a PR interval lengthening with dropped beats in cycles.
Second degree heart block (Mobitz type II) have a PR intervals not lengthening, P waves with absent QRS complex regularly, and present of multiple irregular P waves with no pattern.
Third degree heart block or (Complete) can progress from Mobitz type II and will have block of conduction to ventricals, P and QRS not related and P waves occurring anywhere.

Naturopathic Treatment

Article Treating Atrial Fibrillation and Decreasing Risk Naturally, NDNR [3], 2011 October

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Arrhythmia is typically a chronic disease that can be asymptomatic but associated with adverse prognosis such as underlying heart disease. It can also be symptomatic but benign therefore thorough investigation into the type of arrhythmia is necessary to predict prognosis and treat as necessary.[2]

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle recommendations include:

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for arrhythmia include:

  • Homeopathic remedies can be helpful in the treatment of arrhythmias.
  • For palpitations consider differentials such as; Heart yin deficiency, heart yang deficiency, heart blood deficiency, Heart qi, yin, blood deficiency, blood stagnation, liver fire, phlegm heat, blood and phlegm stagnation, qi and yin deficiency.[7].

References

Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [4]

  1. Merriam, Webster editors (2006) Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts:Merriam-Webster, Inc.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Berga S, Bowman M, Drossman D, Faling J, Frenkel E, Gabbard G et al. editors. (1992) The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and therapy 16th edition. Rathway: Merck & Co Inc.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 Goroll A, Mulley A, editors.(2009) Primary Care Medicine – Office evaluation and management of the adult patient. Boston: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "primary" defined multiple times with different content
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Piscopo Gary, Yarnell Eric (2010) Naturopathic Clinical Boards Study Manual Volume I. Healing Mountain Publishing Inc.
  5. Ueda K, Nitta H, Ono M (2009) Effects of fine particulate matter on daily mortality for specific heart diseases in Japan Circ J;73(7):1248-54. PMID:19423947.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Boyle W, Saine A (1988) Lectures in Naturopathic Hydrotherapy Eclectic Medical Publications. p148
  7. Kuoch David(2011) Acupuncture Desk Reference. 2nd ed. Acumedwest Inc.:pg290-307