Wednesday, September 14, 2011
How to treat Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC)
I've had a funny heart beat for about 10 years. I've been to the doctor and had many tests performed, EKG, echocardiograph, stress echocardiogram, halter moniter, event recorders, the whole gammit. I'm 25 years old! What could be wrong? I have been told time and time again I am young and have negligible risk for any serious heart problems. However I consistently feel like my heart stops beating for a second and then catches up with a stronger beat and another faster beat following the stronger beat. What gives?
Well in my undergraduate education I had a class on how to interpret an EKG. I described my symptoms to my professor at the time and she was fairly certain that I was experiencing PVCs. They are typically a benign phenomenon and occur in response to stress.
Fast forward a few years and I'm having these PVCs 4 to 10 times per minute. This is bad. It feels terrible . At this point I head back to the cardiologist and get myself an event recorder. Its a pretty cool device that attaches to your chest and reads your heart rhythm for 2 weeks at a time. I go back to the doctor after this and he tells me I'm having PVCs and PACs (similar phenomena) and this is a normal thing. NORMAL?! Come on! My options are either ignoring them or taking a Beta Blocker to rid myself of these. Uhhh....
Since then I've learned a few things that relate to lifestyle and nutrition that can effect PVCs in the body and I've put them in a list:
**Disclaimer: If you think you may be having a heart arrythmia consult your doctor immediately! and ask about these interventions before trying them.
Stress in the main culprit in my PVC activity. When I'm stressed my body responds by tormenting me with PVCs. Here is how I manage my stress with lifestyle changes.
1. Manage the relationships in your life that are stressing you and drop the ones that can't be changed. Recommended Reading: Non-violent Communication by Marshall P. Rosenberg Ph.D.
2. Manage your life! If your job sucks, find a new one or change your attitude. I could go on forever about this but do your best to sit back and ask yourself what you want to get out of life (your career, lifestyle, relationships etc.) and start making progress toward that!
3. Practice Pleasure! This is exactly what it sounds like. Enjoy your life. Engage in activities that are pleasurable. Smile and laugh. Love more.
4. Meditate! Meditation is such a powerful thing that in 1984 the National Institutes of health recommended meditation over prescription drugs as the first treatment for mild hypertension. (1) Transcendental meditation has been found to increase intelligence, creativity,perceptual ability, reduce blood pressure and reduce rates of illness by 50%. (2) Recommended Listening: Guided Mindfullness Meditation practice CDs by Jon Kabat-Zinn
5. Stop drinking and eating foods with caffeine and other stimulants as well as alcohol: Coffee, Green Teas, chocolate, beer, wine, liquor etc. These are notorious for causing PVCs!
6. Get to Sleep! Sleep in a dark room with no light. Use eye shades and ear plugs if you need to. Shoot to be in bed by 10:00PM and sleep until you can wake up feeling rested. Recommended Reading: Lights Out by T.S. Wiley
I don't mean to bash doctors at all they are an integral and incredibly important part of our well being. However they don't specialize in dietary and lifestyle changes. Often times this is the primary cause of our problems in the first place. This means that a pill won't cure the problem, its going to take some work on our part to change our daily habits.
Remember, consult your doctor and then bring these options up with him or her before trying anything here.
1. D. Goleman. The Meditative Mind (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. tarcher, 1988), 168
2. R.W. Cranson et al. "Transcendental Meditation and Improved Performance on Intelligence Related Measures: A Longitudinal Study" Personality and Individual Differences 12 (1991), 1105-1116