Nutritional supplements could place you at risk of developing arrhythmia

Nutritional supplements could place you at risk of developing arrhythmia


  • One of the adverse side effects associated with taking nutritional supplements is arrhythmia.
  • Arrhythmia is a disruption to the heart’s electrical signals or a short circuit occurring in one of the heart’s chambers leading to a reduction in circulation to the body’s organs. This can result in heart failure or stroke.
  • Arrhythmia can be caused by a number of lifestyle factors including drinking alcohol, smoking, stress, and taking nutritional supplements that can affect heart health. It can also be caused by the aging process, or by congenital health conditions such as coronary artery disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and high blood pressure.

People around the world are taking better care of their health by focusing on exercise, eating a healthy diet and regularly attending health screening appointments. People are also turning to nutritional supplements for their perceived anti-aging benefits, to reduce the risk of illnesses, or as an alternative to traditional medication.

The first thing to do before selecting a nutritional supplement is to consult with a doctor or pharmacist. Ensuring your supplement comes from a domestically or internationally reputable company is also crucial as fake products, contaminated with insecticides and other toxins, could place your health at significant risk.

One of the most common results of choosing unsuitable nutritional supplements is arrhythmia.

Arrhythmia refers to the heart beating too quickly or too slowly (our pulse is usually between 60–100 beats per minute) and occurs as a result of a disruption in the heart’s electrical signals or a short circuit affecting one of the heart’s chambers. This can lead to a reduction in the amount of blood being circulated to various organs, and can result in heart failure or stroke in those experiencing atrial fibrillation.

Causes of arrhythmia

Your heart should beat 60-100 times per minute. During exercise or excitement it may beat a bit faster. However, if you’re suffering from cardiac arrhythmia or abnormal heartbeat, you will experience dizziness and vertigo and may even black out. Cardiac arrhythmia may occur in anyone, male or female, at any age. If it goes unnoticed, it may lead to a risk of paralysis.

Another heart abnormality is atrial fibrillation (AF)—better known as a heart attack. AF is dangerous and it’s hard to rehabilitate the patient back to normal. Internal causes for heart disease include:

  • Degenerative change (due to the normal aging process),
  • Electrolyte imbalance,
  • Structural heart disease such as congenital heart malformation, abnormal heart muscle thickness, etc.
  • Brugada Syndrome and abnormal thyroid hormone levels.

External factors include hot temperatures, stress, over-work, lack of rest, alcohol consumption and smoking.

There is a wide range of nutritional supplements available on the market – produced both domestically and abroad – which can have a number of adverse side effects that can contribute to the development of arrhythmia. Consumers must therefore study each product in detail and be sure to understand its potential effects before taking it.

Nutritional supplements that may contain illegal or dangerous substances and which may place you at risk of developing arrhythmia

Advertised benefit

Potential pharmacologic contaminant

Potential adverse cardiovascular effects

Weight loss Drugs which reduce appetite, such as fenfluramine Causes thickening of the heart valve and chordae tendineae
Drugs which reduce appetite and stimulate metabolism, such as sibutramine Elevated pulse, high blood pressure, palpitations and chest pain. It has also been determined that sibutramine increases the risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke in patients with coronary artery disease

Thyroid drugs, such as thyroxine

Hypothyroidism, arrhythmia, high blood pressure and palpitations
Maté or Brazilian tea Palpitations and elevated pulse (caused by caffeine)
Sexual enhancement Drugs which strengthen erections, such as sildenafil, vardenafil, tadalafil acetildenafil, hydroxyacetildenafil, hydroxyhomosildenafil, and piperidenafil Hot flashes, confusion, palpitations and a drop in blood pressure
Athletic performance enhancement Synthetic testosterone drugs, including 19‐norandrosterone, methandienone, stanozolol, and testosterone Myocardial infarction

Diagnosing arrhythmia

Electrocardiography (better known as EKG or ECG) can tell us if our heart is beating normally. An annual check-up is recommended for anyone over the age of 30. ECG is usually included in the check-up package, but please remember that if your heart is beating normally during the procedure, the test may not be able to detect arrhythmia. So if you have any other indications such as fainting, dizziness or vertigo, you should get a blood test, ECG or additional test using the Holter Monitor. The Holter monitor will record your electrocardiograph over a 24-hour period to find any heart abnormality.

Treating arrhythmia

  • In patients for whom the cause of the arrhythmia is thyroid deficiency, thyroid toxicity, or ischemic heart disease, treating the main cause of their condition will be the best way to prevent future occurrences of arrhythmia.
  • In patients with an irregularly fast heartbeat resulting from alcohol use, smoking or taking certain types of medication, medical staff will advise removing those factors from the patient’s lifestyle.
  • In less severe cases of arrhythmia patients may be treated with medication, although their progress should be closely monitored and their medication dosage adjusted as necessary.
  • Treatment in the form of radiofrequency ablation is generally used to treat those who are suffering from arrhythmia caused by atrial fibrillation (AF). This treatment involves making an incision in the patient’s groin, through which a tube used to perform the radiofrequency ablation is placed in the appropriate location. The length of time the procedure takes is dependent on the condition’s severity, but patients are usually only required to recuperate in the hospital for 1–2 nights before returning home.
  • Pacemaker implantation refers to the insertion of a special device into the patient’s chest. The device is responsible for maintaining a steady and regular heartbeat, thus reducing the risk of symptoms associated with arrhythmia or cardiac arrest, including breathlessness, faintness and a loss of consciousness. The implantation of a pacemaker requires inserting leads into the heart chambers via the veins, as well as installing a pulse generator in the patient’s chest cavity. It is considered minor surgery, requiring only 1–2 days of recuperation in the hospital before returning home.

Reducing the risk of developing arrhythmia

Arrhythmia may not always be preventable, but there are a number of ways to reduce the risk of developing the condition including: reducing consumption of coffee and alcohol, relieving stress, not smoking, eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and attending all doctor appointments and health screenings.

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