Hey there, guys and gals, JJ here with another topic of study that may help our Ready Nutrition Readers in the outdoors if you encounter cardiac problems. This article entails an outline of Arrhythmias (in this case Cardiac Arrhythmias) with mention of a few of the different naturopathic aids available in order to give the reader an overall picture of them. The information presented in this article is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe, or cure any illness or any action or malady mentioned herein. Only a licensed, certified, trained, qualified physician can do that. Consult with your family physician or healthcare provider prior to taking any actions outlined within the scope of this article.
According to the heart attack statistics on the website AllHeartAttack.com, 1/3 of all heart attack victims succumb to the episode. The site also mentions that a heart attack occurs once every 20 seconds in the U.S. The basis for heart attacks are numerous and too comprehensive to cover in total. We are, however, going to list some of the arrhythmias that lead to the heart attack as a reference guide for you perhaps to stick into your first aid kit or with an emergency kit in your backpack. Remember, patient history is the key to everything. Before you take your relatives hiking or camping, know their physical limitations and any underlying health problems they may have before the trip.
Some good equipment to tote with you in a first aid kit would be a blood pressure cuff (technical term being a sphygmomanometer), a stethoscope, and some type of watch, either worn on the wrist or a stopwatch for the emergency kit. This latter will help you with taking TPR’s (temperature, pulse, and respiration) for a family member or friend who may be stricken with chest pains. AED’s (defibrillators) are sold and can be found both new and used on Amazon.com. They aren’t cheap; however, they could save a life. Remember, tire patching kits are never really thought about much until you have a flat tire, right? The main thing with this is yours truly recommends a CPR course and maybe down the road an ACLS course (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) that instructs you in arrhythmias and both how and when to use a defibrillator.
An arrhythmia is simply an irregularity or loss of rhythm, especially of the heart. A Cardiac Arrhythmia is defined as an irregular heart action caused by physiological or pathological disturbances in the discharge of cardiac impulses from the sinoatrial node or their transmission through conductive tissue of the heart. Wow! Long definition! On a serious note, a complete explanation of all of the heart functions and the methods of electrical conductivity are very complex subjects that are beyond the scope of this article. We will outline herein a few of the basic/commonly-found arrhythmias to give the reader an overview. Cardiac care needs not only a good physician but also more specifically, a good cardiologist.
Here are a few of the arrhythmias encountered:
- Bradycardia: a slow heartbeat measured by one falling below 60 beats per minute (bpm) in adults, 70 bpm in children.
- Tachycardia: an abnormally rapid heart rate presenting in adults as faster (more) than 100 bpm.
- Sinus Arrhythmia: cardiac irregularity marked by variation in the interval between sinus beats; seen on ECG as varying long and short intervals between the P-waves. This may happen when the heart rate increases with inspiration (breathing in), and decreases on expiration (breathing out).
- Atrial Tachycardia: abnormally fast heart rate as a result of an irritable focus in the heart’s atria; the rate here does not exceed 220 bpm.
- Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT): arrhythmia happening every so often with the rate of atrial contraction being usually between 160-200 bpm.
- Ventricular Tachycardia: 3 or more consecutive complexes of ventricular arrhythmias of 100-250 bpm. Non-sustained will last less than 30 seconds. Sustained last for 30 seconds or greater and can lead to unconsciousness and other problems.
- Atrial Fibrillation: the most common cardiac arrhythmia [see Beneficial Blog’s article on Atrial Fibrillation for more details], affecting 10% of all those 70 years of age or older. It involves rapid, irregular electrical activity in the atria, resulting in an ineffective ejection of blood into the ventricles.
Cardiac problems are very difficult to deal with, and as has been stressed already, you need to see a doctor specializing in cardiac care and you need to follow the instructions the doctor gives you if you have a problem with your heart!
In terms of naturopathic aids, there are a few that can be used to support your condition pending physician approval, this last part highly stressed: don’t go “screwing around” when it comes to heart care! A great deal of chemistry is involved in terms of determining contraindications based on your age, gender, physical condition, and a host of other factors that need (repeat, need) a cardiac care physician to be able to examine and determine a proper course of action.
- The Arjun Tree (Terminalia arjuna) is a cornerstone of medicine in India. The herb holds tremendous cardiac effects when used properly. It leads to bradycardia (slower heartbeat), which is very therapeutic in cases where the arrhythmia arises due to faster irregular heartbeat such as AF. The herb has a proven track record of effectiveness against congestive cardiac insufficiency and also hypertonia. The extracts can cause a lowering of the blood pressure. It is spasmolytic and a hemostyptic, a sedative, and the herb does potentiate barbiturates. Arjun comes in powdered drug form and liquid preparation. Daily dosage is 3.88 g of powdered bark.
- Astragalus (Astragalus spp., especially Astragalus membranaceus) is another herb with awesome cardiac effects. Astragalus increases cardiac output in patients with angina pectoris. Astragaloside IV is a synthesized preparation that improves left ventricle end-diastolic volume and left ventricular end systolic volume. It also slows the heart rate in heart failure, alleviates chest distress and dyspnea associated with heart failure. The herb comes in capsule, liquid, or tea form. The root can be taken 2-6 g per day. Fluid preparations can be taken 4-12 ml every day. Capsules come in 250-500 mg sizes and (depending on the manufacturer’s instructions) take 2 capsules three times daily. Astragalus can be found at your happy, family-friendly Wal-Mart.
- Hawthorne (Crataegus spp.) can increase coronary blood flow, help with mild cardiac insufficiency, and a senile heart. The herb is contraindicated with pregnant or lactating mothers, as well as patients with HTN or CHF medications. The duration is usually 6 months for therapy with Hawthorne. Side effects include nausea, tiredness, sweating, and a rash may appear on the skin of the hands. Daily dosage is 80-300 mg of extract three times per day in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
- In addition to these three is Adonis (Adonis vernalis), a plant used in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. It contains cardioactive steroid glycosides with positive inotropic effects. The herb is used with mild impairment of heart functions (NYHA I & II) especially when accompanied by nervous symptoms. The medicinal parts are the aerial parts of the plant collected during the flowering season and dried immediately. The flower is found from E. Siberia all the way to E. and Central Europe.
Be advised for side effects, as it will potentiate (as well as increase its own effects) the side effects of simultaneous administration of quinidine, digoxin, calcium, saluretics, laxatives, and any extended therapy of glucocorticoids. Dosage is an average daily dose of 0.6 g, with the maximum single (individual) dosage being 1.0 g, and a maximum daily dosage of 3.0 g. Adonis comes in herb or powdered form and must be kept tightly sealed and away from light.
Please remember: you must consult with your family physician and/or cardiac care specialist-physician prior to taking any actions or use of any materials as outlined in this informative article. Make sure they check everything and that it meets with their approval first. Another thing of importance is to go over the activities proposed during your hiking trip or backpacking adventure with a physician. At the very bare minimum, the doctor can tell whether or not your friend or relative is capable of these activities and can recommend what to do to help make the trip safer.
Folks, remember to plan your trip and be safe. It cannot hurt to over prepare, and certainly, it will not harm you to have additional supplies and training that can benefit your group in an emergency. Remember, all training is beneficial, even though it may be utilized in a manner that was neither originally intended or foreseen. Have a good time in your outdoor adventure, and I wish you well with all of my heart!