Herbs and Supplements
Although the use of
to help prevent dangerous heart arrhythmias has received considerable research attention,
the evidence for its effectiveness remains conflicted.
tends to stabilize the heart, and intravenous infusions of magnesium are sometimes given to people in cardiac intensive care. However, a 6-month,
double-blind, placebo-controlled study
of 170 people did not find oral magnesium effective for maintaining normal heart rhythm in people with a tendency to develop atrial fibrillation.
Diuretic drugs in the
family tend to deplete the body of the minerals potassium and magnesium. People using such drugs are usually advised to take
supplements because potassium deficiency can cause arrhythmias. One small double-blind study failed to find that additional supplementation with magnesium further stabilized the heart.
Apparently, the extent of magnesium deficiency caused by thiazide diuretics is not severe enough to destabilize the heart’s rhythm.
However, the drug
appears to sensitize the heart to magnesium deficiency. People with
congestive heart failure (CHF)
are likely to use both digoxin and loop diuretics (another type of diuretic that depletes magnesium), and the net result can be cardiac arrhythmias
One small double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that magnesium supplements reduced episodes of ventricular arrhythmia in people with CHF.
A controlled study found preliminary evidence that vitamin C may help prevent one of the types of arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation) that can follow coronary artery bypass grafting.
However, because this trial failed to include a placebo group, its results are suspect.
is widely used to treat mild palpitations, but scientific evidence to show that it is effective consists only of partially relevant test-tube studies.
(NAC), a modified version of a dietary amino acid, was shown in a pilot placebo-controlled study (115 subjects) to reduce the incidence of atrial fibrillation following open-heart surgery, a common complication of this kind of procedure.
When palpitations are caused by
, herbs and supplements used for those conditions may be helpful. See the individual articles for more information.
Other herbs and supplements sometimes recommended for palpitations, but which have little supporting evidence, include