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Posted by: John
Date: March 15, 2003 11:55 PM

For a couple of weeks now I have been experiencing PVC's. They would come and go, but one morning I was getting them every 10 minutes or so. This was scary enough to visit the emergency room, because at the time I didn't know what they were. The doc said it was a PVC because the monitor showed a T wave abnormality. He said these were not uncommon for people my age (35), and he sent me on my way. Since its onset, the duration and intensity of these flutters have decreased. What I have noticed is that they come about when I have gone a period without eating, and the PVCs disappear after I have eaten. It appears the smaller the meal, the sooner I will experience another PVC. This may of course just be a coincidence.

I am overweight, and have been loosing a lot of weight since the holidays due to restricting calories. My basic plan is a shake in the morning consisting of a protein powder, mineral whey, fruit, a dash of enzymes, and at times, a spoon of olive oil. With the exception of a piece of fruit or vegetable, normally I wouldn't eat until dinner time, when I would have a serving of meat and a salad and/or vegetable. I also supplement with a decent multivitamin. I have stuck to this plan since New Years, loosing almost the same amount it took me 7-8 moths to gain. I am now concerned that I have lost too much weight too quickly, causing these PVC attacks somehow.

A family member is diabetic, so I test my sugars regularly, 90-110 in the morning. The blood work they took at the hospital showed everything normal with the exception of my WBC, which was 15.6 in a normal range of 4.2-11. Electrolytes showed normal, but I did have one of my shakes about 3-4 hours prior to test. I have an appointment with a GP in a couple of days, and I have scheduled another one with a cardiologist a week later.

I would appreciate your opinion as to any possible reasons I am experiencing these PVC's now, and what questions or test should I inquire about with my doctors.

Posted by: Ron Kennedy, M.D.
Date: March 16, 2003 1:51 AM

You probably know this, but for our other readers here is a brief description of PVCs. Premature ventricular contractions or PVCs are also known as "extrasystoles." They are "extra" heartbeats. They arise from an irritable area in the heart's lower pumping chambers (the ventricles). PVCs interrupt the normal heart rhythm and cause an irregular beat. This is often felt as a "missed beat" or a "flip-flop" in the chest. PVCs are often harmless, but when they occur very often or repetitively, they can presage more serious rhythm disturbances.

In mainstream medicine there is no agreement on the cause of PVCs although it is well agreed that use of caffeine and cigarettes tend to increase the incidence of PVCs. Stress tends to increase their incidence and many people notice relationships to various foods, especially chocolate. It is also well known that supplementation with certain magnesium preparations decrease their incidence.

So, since there is no party line on what causes them, I will give you my belief on the matter. I believe PVCs to be caused by mineral imbalance and insufficiency which has the effect of dysregulating the electrical conduction of the heart. The causes of mineral insufficiencies would be poor diet and/or poor digestion and/or poor absorption. The cause of mineral imbalance would be in a dysregulation of mineralocorticoids production in the adrenal gland.

If I had the problem I would stop caffeine, cigarettes, and chocolate. I would eat a healthy varied diet and supplement with minerals. If that did not do the trick I would find a doc to help me evaluate my digestive functions and my hormone balance. At that stage finding the right doc would be the challenge as American medical schools do a very poor job of training docs about how to deal with subtle digestive problems and even endocrinologists do not seem to know exactly what to do even if they are able to come up with the diagnosis.

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