By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
In my days of active practice, one of the most common consultations I used to have was with patients who came in because they didn’t feel like their hearts were beating properly anymore. Some described skipped beats. Others, flutter and flip-flop sensations.
Almost all of these patients were suffering from a common type of arrhythmia called premature ventricular contractions, or PVCs.
Most people, including myself, experience PVCs at some point in their lives—and in most cases, PVCs are completely benign. Still, that doesn’t stop them from being a source of tremendous fear and anxiety.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help minimize or even stop PVCs. Here’s how I would approach the problem.
What to Do if You Think PVCs May Be Your Problem
Even though most PVCs turn out to be harmless, it’s always best to have your symptoms checked out. Under certain circumstances, PVCs do have the potential to cause potentially lethal ventricular tachycardias—so it’s important for you to know if you have that risk.
The first thing you can expect your doctor to do is ask you to wear a Holter monitor for 24 hours to see how frequent your PVCs are. You’ll probably also be asked to keep a journal of what you do over that time, so your doctor can see if there are any specific activities or type of events (an argument, maybe) that cause the PVCs to flare up.
It’s also likely that you’ll be asked to have an echocardiogram so your doctor can look at the size and shape of your heart and assess how well the valves are functioning. If those things all look normal—and you have no other underlying disease—you’ll probably be given a clean bill of health.
6 Ways You Can Stop or Reduce PVCs
Even though it’s reassuring to hear a cardiologist say your heart is fine, PVCs can still be bothersome. Here are some of the things I’ve found effective for calming and rebalancing the body and heart, and stopping these unwanted beats.
Clean up your diet.
The first thing you should do is get rid of the Unholy Trinity of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Alcohol, especially, has a well-documented connection with arrhythmias, and sugar and caffeine are both stimulants that get the heart going, as opposed to helping it relax. All of these can aggravate PVCs.
Second, give up processed and packaged foods, which are full of preservatives and flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG). These also can trigger PVCs. Instead, focus on nutrient-rich, high-vibrational whole foods—and go organic if you can, to avoid exposure to pesticide residues. (Find out which foods are most essential to buy organic.)
Keep a food diary.
Writing down what you eat and how your PVCs feel for the hours afterward can also be a useful tool. If you find that you’re sensitive to spicy foods, for example, you may benefit from toning down your meal planning.
Take a break from your electronic devices.
As much as we love our smart phones, tablets, and other electronic devices, the EMF they emit can affect the heart rhythm and supercharge the part of our brain that controls the fight-or-flight response. This makes them a potential trigger for PVCs.
I know that reducing EMF exposure in this day and age is a big ask, so simply do the best you can. Keep calls short, and use speakerphone if appropriate. Most of all, remove any electronics from your bedroom—especially cordless phones and baby monitors.
Put your bare feet on the ground.
Earthing is a fantastic way to treat PVCs because it rebalances the autonomic nervous system. This helps calm the fight-or-flight response, which has a soothing effect on the heart. It also helps reduce cortisol levels, which further relaxes and balances the body’s natural rhythms.
Make sure your heart is adequately nourished.
If you’re open to trying nutritional supplements as a way to reduce or stop your PVCs, many people have good luck with CoQ10, fish oil, and magnesium. The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil have an overall calming effect on the cardiovascular system, while CoQ10 and magnesium support energy production. Magnesium also plays a crucial role in regulating the heartbeat.
Look inside for unexpressed or unacknowledged emotions.
Finally, spend some quiet time with yourself, reflecting on whether you’re living in a way that’s true to who you are. Oftentimes, a benign problem like PVCs isn’t so much a problem as it is a message from your intuition that you’re falling out of alignment with what you really want and need in life. Recognizing those issues and giving them a voice can not only help stop PVCs, but help prevent much larger problems down the road.
- Havas M. Radiation from wireless technology affects the blood, the heart, and the autonomic nervous system. Rev Environ Health. 2013;28(2-3):75–84.
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