The tick, tick of a Rolex watch is very reliable.
The lub-dub, lub-dub, of the heart is also reliable, in early age.
But a report from Johns Hopkins University says that over age 40, one in four women and men, are at risk of developing atrial fibrillation, commonly known as Afib or AF.
How serious is this problem, and how would I treat it if it happened to me?
Currently three million North Americans have AF, and due to an aging population, 50 percent of those over 80 will develop AF.
Getting older is always dangerous and AF is one price you pay for longevity.
We know that old cars develop trouble when their electrical system falters and the same problem happens to hearts.
The regular heartbeat is controlled by an electrical reaction located in the heart’s right upper chamber, called the right atrium.
AF occurs when electrical activity becomes wild and random, that causes the heart to quiver and twitch.
Electrical dysfunction in the heart can be triggered by several events.
One is called the “Holiday Heart Syndrome” when there’s been over consumption of alcohol.
It can also result from an overactive thyroid.
Several years ago President George Bush made the headlines when he required treatment for AF.
People who become obese and develop Type 2 diabetes resulting in atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening) of coronary arteries, are at increased risk due to decreased blood supply to the heart’s muscle.
Others, who undergo bypass surgery, are also prone to develop AF.
The experience is unnerving and patients complain that the irregular heartbeat leaves them feeling that the heart is going to jump out of their chest.
Not all AF is equal.
Some attacks of AF last a day or two, or as long as a week, and then for no apparent reason the irregularity disappears.
Still others last a year or more.
Many patients who have AF are not aware of its presence and may have no symptoms.
Others complain of fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, dizziness or of an irregular, rapid and pounding sensation in the chest.
Regardless of the type of AF, it results in blood staying longer in the upper chambers of the heart.
It’s not an ideal situation as the longer blood swirls around in the heart there’s an increased risk of a blood clot forming which may lead to stroke.
The question is how to treat AF.
For instance, prescription drugs such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and digoxin are often used to tame AF.
In other cases an electrical shock is delivered to the heart, or concentrated radiofrequency waves heat and destroy the abnormal electrical signals.
If all fails a surgical approach can be performed.
The ultimate question is whether to place patients on blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or dabigitran (Pradaxa), or to use Aspirin which lubricates blood platelets making them less likely to clot.
But today most patients are given the prescription drugs, Coumadin or Pradaxa.
This decision is based on which devil you pick and which scientific study you believe.
For instance, those taking a blood thinner have less chance of a stroke, but greater risk of bleeding than those using Aspirin.
Remember, I’m not your doctor.
But if I were to develop AF I would first try natural remedies.
This would consist of a daily Aspirin and 800 IU of natural vitamin E which also lubricates the blood.
In addition, I’d take one scoop of MagSense powder daily, or the equivalent amount in a pill, since magnesium is essential in helping to regulating the heart’s electrical rhythm.
Hell will also freeze over before I’d stop taking 6,000 mg of vitamin C and 4,000 mg of lysine daily, a combination powder available in Health Food Stores which prevents and reverses atherosclerosis.
See the dramatic before and after arterial photos on my web site www.docgiff.com which proves this combination works.
A heart with healthy circulation is less apt to become irregular.
I’d also continue taking, in moderation, my favourite alcoholic drink before dinner.
This also lubricates platelets, increases the good cholesterol and is a great relaxant which is also good for the heart.