Archives For Tom August

When I first started having heart skips I spent an embarrassing amount of time scouring the internet looking for the illusive cure for heart palpitations. If you are reading this right now I suspect you are doing, or have done, the same thing. This blog series is an effort to put an end to the hours of mindless research for cures. My hope is that it will help you quickly find what works best to manage your palpitations so you can get back to a normal life.

Natural Cures for Heart Palpitations

Photo Credit: Gerard79

So in order to consolidate things, I have tried to put together a running list of possible “cures” for heart palpitations that I have found in my research across the internet. For each palpitation remedy I have written or will write a post with more details so you can comment on whether that specific cure worked for you or not.

I’m not saying that these work for everyone (or that you should try any or all of them), I am just saying that someone, somewhere on the internet has claimed that it worked for them (I will do my best to provide links to where I found it so you can dig deeper if you would like). There are many different types of heart palpitations and many different causes, so what works for someone else may not work for you. Also, many of these cures were likely the result of multiple factors and not just one single thing. And as always, please don’t try any of these without first consulting your primary care physician and/or your cardiologist.

My goal is to try and find the BEST cures for palpitations (as determined by actual people). The only way to do that is with your help. So please be sure to let us know what has worked best for you and what hasn’t worked!

If you would like to get an email every time I discuss a new cure, be sure to sign up for the Life Off Beat mailing list – you can do that HERE. No spam, I promise (and of course you can unsubscribe at any time).

So without further ado, here is the list I have put together so far. Please let me know if I left anything off!
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A few months back, my cousin underwent his second treatment for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). His treatment was relatively successful, but I began to grow worried that my “benign” heart palpitations would evolve into atrial fibrillation since I had read somewhere online that it was a possibility (I’m not sure if that is actually true, but it definitely got me thinking about it, and I wanted a way to track, or at least monitor, my heart palpitations). Atrial fibrillation carries with it a higher risk of stroke, so I thought it would be awesome if there was a cheaper way to get an EKG than going to the doctor. I even thought it would save me some time and money if I just bought a used full scale EKG machine online (heart palpitations make you do crazy things 🙂 ). But once I started doing some research I came across a cool little product called AliveCor. It’s certainly not a full replacement of a 12 node EKG report, but it can detect heart arrhythmias, particularly A-fib.

AliveCor Mobile EKG ECG - Is it worth it?

I bought mine on Amazon and the cost was only $95 (I admit that can be lot of money, at least for me, but compared to a doctor’s visit and a EKG test, it seemed reasonable). I was skeptical at first, but I’ve actually been really impressed at what this little device can do.

AliveCor is a small rectangular device that records ECGs and your heart rate. All you have to do is place your fingers on the little metal pads. It sends the data to a free AliveCor app you download on your smartphone. You can also stick the device on the back of a phone case for easier use, but I actually found it worked best when I set it flat on a table next to the phone. If you did decide to stick the device on your phone case, you can also rest the phone case electrodes on your chest and get a reading that way. Once your ECG/pulse rate is recorded and saved, you can add notes as well as send your recording to your Cardiologist. You can also have a specialist look at your readings as well for a small fee (around $12).

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Heart Palpitations Cured by Chiropractor

[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

When my heart palpitations were at their worst and my spirits were at their lowest, I started telling people about my situation in hopes of finding someone with a solution (you can read my story HERE). An acquaintance of mine suggested that he may be able to help since he was a chiropractor. He laid out a compelling argument that heart palpitations could be caused by nerves being pinched in my spine. I had back and arm pain, especially when I was anxious, that mimicked a heart attack (or so I thought), so this sounded reasonable to me.

I visited his office and his staff was incredibly kind. However, his practice honestly felt like a sham. It was very expensive and once my name was called I would go lay down on a bed that rolled/massaged my back. The doctor would then come in and give me “electronic” acupuncture, which was painless and felt like he just put a tiny flashlight to different parts of my body. I was then told I would need to do this three times a week. Yikes!

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[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

I think one of the first things that my doctor asked me about when I started having heart palpitations (you can read my story HERE) was if I had been running a lot or felt dehydrated in any way. The reason was because having an electrolyte imbalance is a very common cause of heart palpitations. It’s generally the first thing listed in articles online about the causes of palpitations.

Could an Electrolyte Imbalance be causing your heart palpitations?

What are the electrolytes?

When I hear the word electrolytes I think of sports drinks like Gatorade that supposedly replenish electrolytes for athletes. I also assumed that if a person was low on electrolytes that it generally meant that they needed more potassium or sodium (just eat a banana, right?). I didn’t realize that it also includes elements like chloride, calcium, sulfate, phosphate, bicarbonate, and magnesium. These electrically charged ions are critical to muscle function (including the heart). The electrical impulse they create help contract the heart and keep it pumping at a normal rate and speed, so If there is an issue with the body’s electrical system then it can cause slower beats, skipped beat, fast beats, etc.

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I don’t remember where I came across this on the interwebs (it can be found in a number of places) but this simple little GIF has been a wonderful tool in my “Stop My Heart Palpitations” toolbox. It’s really simple, but that is the beauty of it.

All it does it expand and contract with geometric shapes. You can sync your breathing to it and really helps with anxiety. When I’m anxious, my heart palpitations go wild, so anything to calm me down is a blessing. It’s a small thing, but I have put it on my phone and look at it when I’m really feeling anxious.

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[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

If there was one supplement that I would recommend that you take to help cure, manage, or stop your heart palpitations, it would be magnesium. When I was researching possible cures to help my awful heart palps, by far the most frequently stated cure for just about any type of irregular heartbeat was magnesium. I even read that if you go to the hospital for a panic attack or suspected heart related issue the first thing they do is start you on a magnesium drip. Comment after comment, article after article, would list magnesium as the best place to start when you have heart palpitations. Some said it completely stopped their heart palpitations, others said it reduced them drastically. So of course magnesium was one of the first supplements I tried when my palpitations were out of control.

Magnesium My favorite supplement for heart palpitations

My Magnesium Mistake

Unfortunately, I made a mistake on my first purchase. Apparently a pretty common one too. I had no idea that there were different forms of magnesium and it was important which one you took. If I remember right, I just went to Walmart and grabbed the cheapest bottle of magnesium I could find. I started taking it and didn’t really see much benefit. It wasn’t till later that I read about the different forms and purposes of magnesium (I plan on writing more about the different types of magnesium soon). I finally ended up with a type of magnesium I like (it blends taurate, glycinate, and malate). It’s called Triple Calm Magnesium, but I explain more below why I like it so much.

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[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

When I was looking around the internet for cures for my heart palpitations, I continually came across recommendations to do yoga. I saw a few articles that said that doing yoga greatly reduces irregular heartbeats. However, I also saw some comments on blog posts that said that they experienced more heart palpitations when they tried to do yoga, so I wasn’t sure what to do.

Yoga for Heart Palpitations

I tried it and my heart palpitations were so bad at the time (you can read about my story here) that it didn’t matter what kind of yoga I was doing, all I could focus on was the skipped beats which were happening about every third beat. So I stopped yoga. It wasn’t until later, after my heart palpitations slowed down a bit, that I came back and tried it again. And I’m glad I did.

The Benefits of Yoga for Heart Palpitations

Yoga has a number of benefits. You can find articles all over the internet touting the wonderfulness of daily yoga, but the three best, in my opinion are:

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[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

Meditation is (or was) a foreign concept to me. Prior to heart palpitations I never tried it. It seemed like some mystical aspiration for gurus or hippies. But after developing heart palpitations, I kept stumbling on to articles extolling the calming virtues of meditation. And then I saw an article that said Jerry Seinfeld credited much of his success to his daily meditation. Really?! Seinfeld! That sealed the deal. I had to check into this whole meditation thing. So I tried it. And of course I loved it. Apparently there are a zillion different ways to meditate (ranging from bizarre to bare minimal) but I finally found a way that works for me.

How I Use Meditation to Help Relieve My Heart Palpitations

How I Meditate with Heart Palpitations

I already wrote about the breathing exercises I do (you can see that post HERE). I occasionally combine both my meditation and my breathing exercises, but I prefer to do them separately if I have the time.

Like my breathing exercises, I always have a hard time focusing when my heart palpitations are going crazy. So I use a massager and place it on my chest if I am laying down or propped up on my back if I am sitting up (this is the massager I use). The vibrations from the massager make it harder for me to feel each heart skip. Otherwise, all I can think about are the palpitations and my “meditation” time is anything but peaceful.

How I Prepare for Meditation

I also try to find a nice, quiet, comfortable spot in the house (sometimes I go into our closet where it is nice and dark and other times I sit by a window in the warm sunlight). I typically like to lie down, but occasionally I will bring a giant comfy pillow (like this one) and sit up with my legs crossed and my back against the wall or a couch.

I love good smelling candles, so I will also light candles when possible. I really think that certain smells can be comforting and bring us back to familiar, restful places. I love Eucalyptus & Peppermint candles (especially this one) and Cinnamon Candles (this is another one I’ve used and enjoy). The Eucalyptus candle is supposedly great for stress and reminds me of my house growing up, and the cinnamon candle reminds me of the Christmas holidays and just makes me happy.

How I Meditate

Once I get situated, I put my headphones on (this may be a meditation no no, I don’t know) and I start listening to music or pre-recorded reminders that I made. I use noise canceling headphones because I have a house full of boys and it’s pretty much the only way to ensure a quiet environment (if you are interested, here is the pair of headphones that I use and love. They are awesome). Continue Reading…

[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

When I first got heart palpitations, I scoured the internet looking for cures (as I’m sure many of you have or are doing). One of the first websites I came across was one that practically guaranteed that my heart palpitations would go away. I was pumped. But once I finally found their “solution” I was sorely disappointed. Their solution was basically to buy their book/video teaching me how to breathe properly. Breathe properly? Ha! That’s crazy talk. I breath just fine thank you very much. So I passed on their product and moved on to other sites. But the more I looked for cures and remedies, the more I came across people who said breathing exercises helped reduce their heart palpitations significantly. Maybe it wasn’t crazy talk. Plus I was desperate and willing to try anything.

Four Breathing Exercises to Help Stop Heart Palpitations

So I did. I jumped into the world of breathing exercises. I tried to be religious about practicing proper breathing techniques. I made a spreadsheet and marked off my time each day. After all, breathing exercises are a great way to relax, right? Well… not for me. After a couple of weeks, I was still having terrible heart skips, and I was anything but relaxed. I was frustrated. I wanted to concentrate on my breathing, but all I could hear and feel was my heart skipping over and over again. It was terrible. My frustration would make my heart skip even more. I would come out of my “relaxation time” ready to punch someone in the face. It was bad.

But then I found a couple of tricks that seemed to work for me. Hopefully they will work for you too.

  1. I do breathing exercises with a massager
  2. This may sound strange, but hang with me here. As I mentioned, I couldn’t concentrate and relax when doing breathing exercises. I couldn’t get over the feeling of having thump thump…skip…big thump… heart palpitations every three beats until I stumbled across this strange solution. I had been standing at my desk working all day and decided to use a massager on my back (one of the percussion kinds). After a few minutes I noticed that I didn’t feel the skips as much as before. It was great. So I tried combining it with my breathing exercises and it was incredibly helpful. (If you don’t know what type of massager I’m talking about, here is massager that I use if you are interested, I love it.)

  3. I lay on my back with my feet up on a wall or on my bed
  4. The other thing I do is lie on my back with my feet up. This helps me take deep breaths by expanding my stomach rather than shallow breaths from my chest. I put my massager on my chest and concentrate on the rise and fall of my stomach. Weird, I know, but effective, at least for me.

  5. Breathing App
  6. If you want some help with your breathing exercises, there is a great app that helps walk you through each breath. It’s called Breathing Zone – Relaxing Breathing Exercises and you can use it on your mobile phone or tablet. I use it on my iPhone and it’s really helpful. I highly recommend it.

Four Breathing Exercises That Help Me with Heart Palpitations

  1. All Things Equal
  2. This is an easy one and supposedly helps get your body in a natural rhythm. It also helps you fall asleep, so that’s good. All you do is sit up straight (or lay down) and breathe in (inhale) through the nose for a count of four, then breathe out (exhale) through the nose for a count of four. Keep it simple. This is the one I do most often. I slowly breath in through my nose and then let the weigh of my body force the air out of my lungs on it’s own. All the air comes out quickly but I linger at the end of the exhale (enjoying the silence) until I reach my count. Once you feel comfortable with a count of four move up to five, then six, then seven, etc.

  3. Breath Counting
  4. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and then breath in naturally (don’t worry about rhythm) through your nose and out through your nose. When you breath out through your nose count “one” to yourself. Keep doing that all the way to five and repeat. Focus on the numbers (maybe even try to picture them mentally). Soon your mind will wander, but that is good. Just keep coming back to your five count.

  5. The Simple Slow Roller
  6. (i.e. The Longest Birthday Party or The Birthday Cake) The idea here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in. Inhale through the nose and count to four or more, then exhale through your mouth for one to two seconds longer than the inhale. My favorite trick is to breathe in slowly then when you breathe out through your mouth you pretend that you are blowing out a candle on a birthday cake but so softly that it wouldn’t put out the flame – hence the Longest Birthday Party Ever 🙂

  7. The Bumble Bee (i.e. The Hummer)
  8. This one might be my favorite. I especially use this when I don’t have my massager since it produces a similar effect. First you cover your ears with your thumbs and your eyes with your fingers. You breathe in through your nose, and with your mouth closed, you breathe out slowly making a deep humming sound. You do this about five to ten times and then you take a couple deep breaths without the humming. It’s nice and peaceful. Then you just repeat as needed.

So those are my four go to breathing exercises that I do when I feel stressed or anxious or when I am having a lot of heart palpitations. Hope you find them helpful!

So what about you? Do you have any breathing exercises that you love or that you find helpful?

[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

The short answer is yes. Dehydration can cause your heart to skip. I have found that even just a little dehydration can make my heart begin to flutter. So drinking more water and staying hydrated has helped with my heart palpitations.

I used to hate drinking water. Maybe it was the funny taste the tap water had in our town, but I would rather drink anything other than water. I guess I come by it honestly because I don’t think I’ve ever seen my 87-year-old grandfather drink anything but coffee and the occasional diet mountain dew. (It’s really quite remarkable really. I don’t know how he does it).

Can Dehydration Cause Heart Palpitations?

photo credit: dreamjay

My view on water drastically changed when I got food poisoning one night from eating at an Applebees. Fluids were exiting my body in all manner of directions (curse you, Applebees!!) and I quickly became so dehydrated that I had to be rushed to the hospital. I spent the night there hooked up to IVs that helped me overcome the severe dehydration. From then on, I tried to make it a point to always stay hydrated.

I was reminded of this again when I started having heart palpitations a few years later. Many people (myself included) experience heart palpitations even from a small amount of dehydration. I didn’t want to chance it, so I made sure to get my recommended amount of water every day (I actually tracked it each day).

The result of drinking more water was incredible. Continue Reading…