Operating under the control of a complex internal electrical system, the heart beats out a continual rhythm from a few weeks after conception until death. This rhythm is ordinarily even and regular, changing speed as necessary to adjust to the body’s need for oxygen.
Sometimes, however, the heart’s rhythm becomes disturbed (“arrhythmic”). The most common and benign form of arrhythmia is the common “heart palpitation,” known technically as sinus arrhythmia. Generally, these are felt as a short run of thumps or flutters in the chest. Sinus arrhythmia is often caused by stress and anxiety. It poses no danger, although it can be annoying.
More serious forms of heart arrhythmia may occur as well. In later life, many people develop atrial fibrillation, a condition in which part of the heart contracts at excessive speed and another part follows along irregularly. Although some people live for years in a state of atrial fibrillation, this is a potentially dangerous condition that requires medical attention.
Other forms of heart arrhythmia are more dangerous still, including ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. These frequently occur after a heart attack. They are often heralded by ventricular premature complexes.
Conventional treatment for arrhythmia depends on the type involved. Sinus arrhythmias are often left untreated. More serious rhythm disturbances are addressed through the use of medications, defibrillation, or a pacemaker.
Note : Heart arrhythmias are far too dangerous for self-treatment. In all but the most obviously benign cases, medical supervision is mandatory.
Proposed Natural Treatments for Cardiac Arrhythmia
Herbs and Supplements
Treatments to Avoid
Caffeine stimulates the heart and may cause minor palpitations. Herbs containing caffeine, such as guarana and cola nut , would be expected to cause similar problems. The herb ephedra also stimulates the heart and should be avoided by people with palpitations.
Numerous herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to prevent or treat arrhythmias. For more information on this potential risk, see the individual drug articles in the drug interactions section of this database.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -