Paroxysmal Auricular Tachycardia (PAT)
A few years ago a woman in her mid thirties called Uchee Pines complaining of frequent bouts of supra-ventricular tachycardia. She reported that she would have bouts with her heart rate going as high as 200. She had even been hospitalized a number of times. When she called she was averaging one trip to the emergency room about every three weeks. She had tried virtually every anti-arrhythmic drug her doctor could find with little or no help. After an extensive medical work-up, no heart disease had been found other than the rhythm disturbance. She, along with thousands of other PAT sufferers, was at the end of her rope.
Heart Rhythm Disturbance
There are many different types of heart rhythm disturbances. The woman in the case history described above had supraventricular tachycardia. Since the natural treatments are the same for all benign rhythm disturbances, they should be treated as PAT which will be discussed in this article.
Although it causes those afflicted with it a good bit of anxiety and discomfort, Paroxysmal Auricular Tachycardia (PAT) is a benign condition. It may result in exhaustion if prolonged, but is not life threatening. Individual attacks may be merely a short run of very fast heartbeats, or may last for ten seconds to ten hours or more. The heart is usually normal, although PAT may coexist with organic heart disease, such as coronary heart disease. In these cases, the rapid rate may cause significant problems. Our recommendations have two objectives:
(1) Prevent attacks
(2) Treat the acute attack and convert to a normal rhythm.
Remedies to Prevent Attacks
Exercise should be graduated for the individual to the point of tolerance. Generally speaking we should aim at around 5 miles of walking per day (over an hour), or the equivalent in outdoor labor—2-3 hours of ordinary outdoor labor, gardening or yard work; or one hour of vigorous and sustained labor like chopping wood or really using a shovel. Walking should be vigorous and sustained for one hour, preceded by warm-up exercises, and ended by cool-down activities. The warm-up period is to prevent skeletal strains, and the cool-down period is to prevent congestion of the chest caused by cooling of the extremities after the forceful beating of the heart has subsided. The aim is to keep the blood circulation balanced between the extremities and the torso. Failure to do so can result in a strain on the heart and lungs.
Persons who have just been exercising vigorously should not immediately drink either hot or cold liquids, as great temperature variation will reduce the blood flow to the extremities, and an extra volume of blood will be retained in the vessels of the trunk. Persons whose deaths have been associated with vigorous exercise usually have had their first symptoms in the immediate post-exercise period, because they sit down immediately and drink a cool drink. Both the cold drink and sitting reduce the circulation to the limbs and increase the volume of blood congesting the lungs, head, heart and liver; causing blood to move more slowly through the heart, reducing oxygenation.
When performing any type of physical function, whether it be exercising out-of-doors, chopping vegetables in the kitchen, doing shop work, or sitting at the computer, good posture should always be maintained. If the head and shoulders are carried forward during walking, neck or shoulder pain is likely to develop. The skeleton should be entirely balanced, one vertebra held directly perpendicular to the one below it as much as possible so that the back and neck are in the “neutral position.” The cheekbones should be carried directly perpendicular to the collar bones.
Mental and emotional benefits, grace and dignity, courage self-possession, and self-reliance, are all promoted by an erect bearing, as well as keeping the great vessels of the neck in the most favorable position, and allowing the heart plenty of room without squeezing or bending the heart. Keep the shoulders back and down, and the head erect. Practice breathing deeply before sleeping, while sitting at the desk, working in the house, or exercising out-of-doors. Every time you go through a door, take a deep breath.
If the weight is above normal, steps should be taken to bring the weight to normal. Rule of thumb: 100 lbs. for the first 5 feet, and 5 lbs. per inch thereafter for women; 6-7 lbs. thereafter for men, depending on musculature. If the weight is already normal or below, no attempt should be made to stuff the stomach with food in the expectation that large quantities of food will make for greater healthfulness. It has been our experience that to be a bit on the thin side is usually helpful for those who have heart symptoms. Generally speaking, concentrated nutrients should be taken sparingly, and that especially refers to taking nutrient supplements. Of course, all stomach irritants (vinegar, hot spices, alcohol, baking soda and powder) and fermented foods (sauerkraut, certain soy sauces, wine, etc.) should be avoided.
Hawthorn berry—2 tablespoons heaping in 1 quart of water. Boil the cracked or ground hawthorn and water together gently for 1/2 hour. Then pour over 2 tablespoons of mother-wort and steep for 30 minutes. Drink the entire quart in divided doses throughout the day. Make the tea fresh daily; it may safely be taken on a daily basis to prevent attacks.
We have had several patients who have had multiple PVC’s and PAT to calm down by taking magnesium salts. We use generally magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salts), 1/2 teaspoon in the morning, and 1/2 teaspoon in the evening, increased to 1 teaspoon twice daily if tolerated. Dr. Coleen Izdale from Texas had complete relief from troublesome cardiac arrhythmia and PVC’s after about three weeks of taking Epsom Salts. We believe it would be possible to keep many people off medication if they had the knowledge about magnesium supplements. Good magnesium sources are found on the chart above.
Hawthorn berries contain pro-cyanidines which help stabilize the heart rhythm.1 When the cause of the arrhythmia is a lack of oxygen to the heart, ginkgo biloba may be of help. The active ingredient in ginkgo is gindolide D. Gindolide D has been shown to be as effective as antiarrhythmic drugs such as Lopressor and Cardizem.2
The clothing should be adequate to balance the circulation between the trunk and the extremities. It is rare that people, especially women, fully understand how much clothing must be applied to the extremities in order to keep the circulation balanced. If there should be any difference in the clothing, it should be with an excess on the extremities, and a smaller quantity on the trunk, but perfectly balanced is best.
While exercising, it is best to have the extremities fully clothed in chilly weather. In hot weather with heavy sweating, the person must not become immobile during the cool-down period with extremities bare, for reasons described above.
Drugs and Lifestyle
Do not smoke or even be around smoking, avoid stress, never take alcoholic beverages even in small quantities. Coffee, tea, decaffeinated drinks, amphetamines, aspirin, phenacetin, anything caffeinated including drugs prescribed by a physician must be avoided. Many prescription drugs intensify the symptoms and can make them almost unbearable. If you are taking any medications that can be left off, check with your physician and see if it would not be all right to do so.
Be regular in all habits. In addition to daily exercise in the open air where possible, regularity in all things should be maintained. That includes going to bed on time, arising on time, and getting meals and exercise on time. Fresh air, especially in the bedrooms at night, is mandatory.
If snoring seems to be a problem, a “snoring collar” can be worn to keep the chin elevated to reduce snoring. Sleep on your side so the airway is less likely to become obstructed. Since sleeping on the back encourages snoring, sew a large sponge ball or tennis ball on the back of sleep clothing to prevent unconsciously rolling onto the back.
Never, never lie down after a meal. In many people, the pushing upward of the full stomach against the diaphragm will trigger an attack. Naps should be taken before meals or at least an hour after a meal, two to three hours being even better.
If Epsom salts gives you diarrhea, use magnesium oxide available in health food stores, 2 tablets 3 times a day.
Do not overeat. Avoid tight bands around the abdomen; it is best not to bend over within an hour after eating.
Treatment of an Acute Attack
1. Put feet in hot water for 30 minutes.
2. Put an ice bag over the heart.
3. Deep breathing through the nose, to full capacity for both inhaling and exhaling, 20 to 25 times. Be sure fresh air (not just air conditioned) circulates, or sit outdoors until the attack passes.
4. Assume an exaggerated military posture with shoulders back and down, back very straight, head held tall and high, back supported by a chair.
5. Change position: if lying, stand; is sitting or standing, lie down; squat, bend over, tilt side to side, etc. Hold each position 6 to 10 seconds before changing.
6. Warm the extremities:
(a) extra clothing
(b) hot hand or arm bath
(c) hot foot bath.
7. Apply firm pressure to one side of the neck or other (not both at once) with the edge of the hand by holding the hand with the palm toward the floor while sitting, and pressing the forefinger edge of the right hand into the left side of the neck, supporting it and adding pressure with the left hand, and holding it for 30-60 seconds. If done firmly enough it will be a bit uncomfortable. Alternate hands and sides of neck.
8. Press the fist forcefully into the V-shape made by the ribs over the stomach, putting additional pressure with the opposite hand. Hold 30-60 seconds.
9. Have someone massage the feet, pressing the thumbs into the soles. Continue 5 to 15 minutes.
10. Drink a hot liquid: water, hot garlic tonic (one cup of boiling water in blender with one clove or one teaspoon of garlic powder —no salt—blend until smooth), or hot tea—instructions below.
11. Herb teas: hawthorn berry tea, 1 cup every 10 minutes for an hour. Catnip or valerian teas are helpful for the anxiety which may be associated with the attacks. Use one cup of tea as needed.
12. Take one teaspoon of Epsom Salts (Magnesium sulfate) or 3 tablets of magnesium oxide with one glass of water or the hawthorn berry tea.
13. Allow no passive smoke in the air. Drink no coffee or ordinary grocery tea; use no drugs, aspirin or other medication as any drug can cause cardiac arrhythmias.
14. Mix one tablespoonful of charcoal with approximately one tablespoonful of olive oil and swallow, using a bit of water if necessary.
The majority of this content is taken from Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines Institute, printed with permission by Wildwood Inn Health Retreat.