Natural Remedies for an Ailing Heart?
Q. I have chronic atrial fibrillation which has led to dilated cardiomyopathy. Medications for the atrial fib haven't helped, and now I'm scheduled for a procedure called focal ablation, which would kill specific electrical impulses in the heart. Are there any natural therapies that would help? I'm 43 and male.
Atrial fibrillation is a disorder in which the two upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beating in an organized and efficient fashion. As a result, blood isn't pumped completely out of these structures -- it pools and clots. If one of the clots should travel to an artery leading to the brain, you could suffer a stroke. The American Heart Association estimates that about 15 percent of all strokes occur among people with atrial fibrillation. Taking the drug warfarin (Coumadin) can prevent blood clotting and therefore reduce the risk of a stroke. In some cases, such as yours, atrial fibrillation can lead to dilated cardiomyopathy, which means the cavity of the heart has become enlarged, stretched, weakened, and unable to pump normally. It is a serious condition.
The procedure you mention, focal ablation, should take care of your problem, and I do recommend that you continue with your conventional treatments. However, the natural therapies listed below may also be helpful:
Coenzyme Q (Co-Q-10): This substance, present in most foods and available as a supplement, can increase the efficiency of the heart's pumping action and boost tolerance for exercise. Get the gel cap formulation which appears to be better absorbed.
L-carnitine: Taking 300-600 mg of this amino acid three times a day appears to increase the efficiency of the heart's pumping activity.
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxycantha): An herbal preparation, hawthorn is a heart tonic that may enable you to lower the dosage of digoxin (a drug that helps your heart pump blood more efficiently).
Breath work and relaxation therapies: This can help you deal with stress and can benefit the body's involuntary functions, including the action of the heart.
Magnesium: Taking 500-1,000 mg per day can benefit your heart, provided you have no kidney trouble.
And finally, remember that these suggestions are not intended as substitutes for conventional treatments, and be sure to tell your physician about any of these therapies you decide to adopt.