Irregular Heartbeat (Arrhythmia)

What Causes Irregular Heartbeat?

In order to hopefully treat and prevent recurrence of irregular heartbeat we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow irregular heartbeat to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind irregular heartbeat consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to irregular heartbeat.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Magnesium Toxicity
  • Overtraining
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Magnesium Need
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Caffeine Intoxication
  • Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
much magnesium supplementation
seizures
excessive osmotic laxative use
major joint pain/swelling/stiffness
difficulty falling asleep
tender muscles
occasional confusion/disorientation
non-human estrogen use
cigarette smoke sensitivity
occasional unexplained nausea
magnesium-based antacid use
recent onset nausea
... and more than 70 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of irregular heartbeat:
Cause Probability Status
Cardiomyopathy 90% Confirm
Sarcoidosis 24% Unlikely
Caffeine Intoxication 15% Unlikely
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity 0% Ruled out
Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences 0% Ruled out
Magnesium Toxicity 0% Ruled out
Overtraining 0% Ruled out
Magnesium Need 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Cardiovascular Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia):
Have you had an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ In the past only, seems resolved
→ Occasionally / somewhat
→ Often / very much so
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either past history of arrhythmia or arrhythmia, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Environmental Illness / MCS

An irregular or rapid heart beat and awareness of your heart beating are listed as possible symptoms of environmental illness.

Hemochromatosis (Iron overload)

Cardiac arrhythmia occurs in about 7% of symptomatic hemochromatosis patients.

Magnesium Requirement

Myocardial magnesium was measured in 8 young patients (mean age 32) with ventricular tachycardia of less than 30 seconds in duration who underwent endomyocardial biopsy.  Myocardial magnesium content was lower in the 4 with cardiomyopathic and dysplastic lesions than in the 4 with inflammatory lesions (myocarditis) and 8 controls.  10gm magnesium over 24 hours caused a resolution of ventricular tachycardias and a greater than 80% reduction in ventricular extrasystoles.  No response was seen in the 4 patients with inflammatory lesions.  [Lancet: 1019, 1987]

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Sleep apnea can also result in cardiac arrhythmias.  Most often, the heart slows while the person stops breathing, and increases when the apneic episode ends.  In 90% of those patients studied with nocturnal bradyarrythmia (slowed heart rate), there was no sign of heart rhythm abnormalities while awake.  Bradyarrhythmias occurred only during sleep and varied considerably in frequency and severity.  [American Heart Journal 2000; 139: pp.142-8]

The Effects Of Overtraining

Endurance sports such as triathlons, ultramarathon running and professional cycling have been associated with as much as a five-fold increase in the prevalence of atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythms).  People who are super-fit are more likely to need pacemakers in old age because exercise causes changes in the body that can disrupt electrical pulses in the heart, causing abnormal heart rhythms.

Sarcoidosis

Symptoms of sarcoidosis can include development of abnormal or missed beats, inflammation of the covering of the heart (pericarditis) or even heart failure.

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