The inflammation that occurs in arthritic patients has been strongly related to cardiac dysrhythmia or arrhythmia, which encompasses a group of conditions that are marked by an abnormal electrical activity and irregular heartbeat.
Scientists have reported that people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are 60% more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, a specific type of arrhythmia, in which the contraction of the two upper chambers of the heart or the atria is not in sync with the two lower chambers of the heart or ventricles.
As a result, the atria fire rapidly and send sporadic signals to the ventricles, thus leading to a rapid and irregular heartbeat. Even though, this might initially lead to slight discomfort in the chest, in the long run it can potentially affect the ability of the heart to pump blood, thereby predisposing an individual to life-threatening diseases like stroke, embolism and cardiac arrest that contribute to about 5,00,000 deaths in the US every year.
Hence, it is important to adapt ways of controlling the symptoms of cardiac dysrhythmia arthritis in its earlier stages, some of which have been mentioned in the following section.
Ways of Managing Cardiac Dysrhythmia Arthritis
Many people experience arrhythmia at least once in their lifetime, where the person experiences an unexpected fluttering or thumping in the chest or feels like he/she has skipped a beat. Even though, this might not be a concern for many since they are often harmless, the recurrence of such episodes is potentially dangerous and certainly requires medical attention, especially in people suffering from arthritis.
Most often, dysrhythmia is treated using anti-arrhythmic medications like beta-blocker drugs, amiodarone, disopryamide and quinidine that slow down the conduction of electrical impulses through the heart; calcium channel blockers like felodipine and nicardipine that prevent the entry of calcium in the heart; anti-coagulants like warfarin, heparins, etc., and anti-platelet drugs like aspirin to prevent the arteries from getting clogged.
Other medical treatments include mild electrical shock treatment, installation of an artificial pacemaker in the heart and radiofrequency ablation, in which radio waves are used to permanently damage the heart cells that are responsible for generating irregular heart beat.
However, the long term use of medications used to treat cardiac dysrythmia arthritis can deteriorate your health by causing unwanted side effects and can sometimes do you more harm than good. This has led the scientific community to explore the various alternative therapies for mitigating the symptoms of cardiac dysrhythmia arthritis.
Diet plays a very important role in either curbing or aggravating the symptoms of arthritis and its related complications like cardiac dysrhythmia. Potential triggers of cardiac dysrhythmia includes excess consumption of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, fatty foods, stress, etc., and hence in its mild form, in which a person experiences gentle palpitations, skipped heartbeat and a slight fluttering of the heart, it can well be managed at home with certain dietary changes.
However, it is important to bear in mind that such complications can indicate a more serious underlying condition and hence cardiac dysrhythmia associated with arthritis cannot be treated by self-treatment alone and even the most benign cases need medical supervision. Hence, this section of the article solely aims at familiarizing you with the foods that should be consumed in order to help your body cope with the symptoms of your condition while taking the medications prescribed by the doctor.
Foods Rich in Anti-Inflammatory Compounds
Since arthritis involves severe inflammation of the joints, anti-inflammatory foods like kelp, garlic, onion, broccoli, cherries, blueberries, soybeans, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish, flax seeds, avocados, nuts, etc., can keep the symptoms of both arthritis and cardiac dysrhythmia arthritis at bay. These foods are enriched with compounds that block cyclooxygenase enzymes that aid in the production of prostaglandins, the signaling molecules, which mediate inflammation in the body.
Foods Rich in Magnesium
Over the past few decades, considerable amount of scientific evidence has been gathered that has established a link between the declining levels of magnesium and irregularities in cardiac rhythm. Magnesium aids in maintaining a constant transport of ions across membrane channels, which plays a pivotal role in promoting the stability of electrical impulses generated by the pacemakers of the heart.
Moreover, magnesium can also reverse the symptoms of arthritis by enhancing the absorption of calcium and rebuilding the bone tissue, thereby increasing bone density and preventing bone and joint damage. Foods fortified with magnesium include tuna, bananas, figs, whole grains, oats, nuts, green vegetables, etc.
Foods Rich in Vitamin C
A study published in 2007 in ‘Texas Heart Institute Journal’ in 2007 confirmed that vitamin C supplements could potentially limit the severity of atrial fibrillation, which is one of the most common forms of cardiac dysrhythmia experienced by arthritic patients.
Besides playing an important role in protecting the joints, cartilage, bones and the surrounding connective tissue from harmful free radicals through its anti-oxidant properties, intake of vitamin C also improves blood circulation to the heart by dilating blood vessels, thus reducing the risk of stroke and cardiac arrest in arthritic patients. Hence, a daily intake of 400 mg of vitamin C through foods like grapefruits, lemon, melons, papaya, broccoli, spinach, etc., has been recommended for keeping your heart healthy.
Furthermore, one should avoid deep-fried foods containing excess saturated, trans fatty acids, refined sugar, red meats and highly processed foods that strip the essential nutrients and vitamins from the food, to keep the symptoms of arthritis and cardiac dysrhythmia arthritis at bay.
Gentle exercises involving light cardiovascular exercises like regular walking or simple aerobic exercises can strengthen the joints and prevent them for further deterioration. Mild stretching exercises can increase the range of motion of joints and can also improve blood circulation in the body that in turn stabilizes the heartbeat.
Moreover, daily activity and exercise helps to beat the symptoms of obesity, which acts as a potent trigger for cardiac dysrhythmia arthritis. However, do not overexert yourself, since vigorous exercise can exaceberate the symptoms of cardiac dysrhythmia. Take regular breaks after every 10 minutes of exercise and resume to gentle exercises only after your heartbeat slows down.
Mind Body Relaxation Techniques
The importance of managing stress and negative emotions like anger and anxiety in people who suffer from heart problems cannot be emphasized enough. Elevated levels of stress hormones in body can disrupt hormonal balance and can increase heart palpitations by causing the heart to beat at a faster rate. Hence, practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, tai-chi, visualization techniques, etc., can help you manage stress and cope with the symptoms of cardiac dysrhythmia arthritis.
Most often, the normal, regular heartbeat that maintains a constant flow of blood throughout our body goes unnoticed, but people suffering from arthritis must constantly stay vigilant about an irregular pattern of the heartbeat that occurs due to unsynchronized electrical impulses generated in the heart.
A healthy lifestyle involving a well-balanced diet and regular exercise will not only help to maintain an optimum weight and prevents an individual from exerting excess pressure on arthritic joints, but it also aids in the proper functioning of the heart, thereby allowing arthritic patients to lead a pain-free life.