I too am a former pvc sufferer, and I hope my story can help others suffering from this debilatating condition. I have managed to get control of my pvcs and feel the occaisional pvc here and there, but not anywhere near the point I used to feel them. I don't feel that pause, then hard thump anymore, nor do I get breathless, or start to anxious as my heart sped up, or any of the symptoms associated with pvcs.
I'm a 45 year old male and have suffered from pvcs for several years, but I never knew what was the cause of the thumping in my chest, the breathlessness, and lightheadness. I've had a couple of ER visits, but in each case, the ER doctors could never find anything wrong and just sent me home. On the last ER visit however, the ER doctors said there was nothing wrong with me, but he pointed out that I had an irregular heartbeat and that's how I found out about pvcs. I'm not sure why the doctors on the other visits did not point it to me, but my guess is that they probably considered the problem benign and sent me on my way. A 24 hour holter revealed I had about 2,000 pvcs/day, with 88 runs, mostly bigemony, and a short burst of tachycardia where my heart rate got to 188. After several tests, my practioner declared to me that I was healthy 45 year old with pvcs and that I shouldn't worry about them as they are benign. He said he couldn't prescribe me a beta blocker because my heart rate was already low averaging 55 beats/min (I've worked out for many years and have stayed in good shape). The only problem with his assessment is that he is not the one who has to live with them.
So, I did my own research and found all kinds of information from electrolyte imbalances to vagus nerve theories to blood ph disorders. I was (or maybe still am) vitamin D deficient. My reading came in at a paltry 9, so my doctor told me to take 5000 iu daily, which I started doing when I quit tobacco (this point might be important). I used to use chewing tobacco, drink about 12 cups of coffee in the morning, but I rarely drank alcohol. The first thing I did was quit tobacco, but after 2 months, I still had lots of pvcs. So, then I tried switching my coffee to decaf, but still no luck, so I then I tried "light decaf" where I blended equal parts of caffinated and decaffinated coffee. I really never drank a lot of pop, but I gave up whatever I was drinking. I was still having pvcs.
So, I added magnesium (400 mg/daily), CoQ10 (200 mg/daily), potassium glutonate (99 mg potassium daily), and a multivitamin (Centrum Silver), and after a few months...I still had lots of pvcs. I think the level might have been reduced very slightly, but I was still having so many that it was still a major problem for me.
Whenever I drank coffee, I used to use TONS of Splenda. I mean would pour that stuff into my cup. So, I gave up on Splenda and switched to stevia extracts. This helped a little bit. Not much, but it did help. So I did a little more research and found that blood ph may have an effect on pvcs. Intuitively, it does make sense, so I decided to explore the option a little further. I found a list of foods that cause blood to become acidic or alkaline, and of course, artificial sweetners were on the list of foods that cause blood to become highly acidic, which is what you don't want. Normally, blood is very slightly alkaline, but you must keep in mind individual differences, average is not necessarily optimal for everyone. But I digress, so I found that lemons and watermelon have a strong alkalizing effect on blood, so I started eating LOTS of watermelon, but the affect was minimal after 2 months. Ironically, whenever I drank the lemon juice, my pvcs would go into serious, torturous runs of bigemony, so I didn't drink lemon juice. Some readers may have tried the lemon juice and baking soda mixture that seems to be popular, and although I have never tried that mixture, many users have expressed it's worked for them.
While trying to alkalize my blood did help, pvcs were still making my life very uncomfortable. My doctor wanted to me have a routine colonscopy, to which I agreed, although I think he probably started me a little young. I stopped all vitamins 1 week before the procedure. I had the procedure and then started on my vitamins again. I don't remember exactly what I did around that time, but my pvcs disappeared! They were gone! I remember after the first day of not having one thinking to myself "are they really gone?". After 2 weeks of not having any pvcs, I remember I stopped taking vitamin D and magnesium because I was having horrible bouts of diarrhea, and then after 2 weeks all of sudden...my pvcs came back! I went back on my vitamins but for 4 months, but still suffered from pvcs. During that time, I stopped using the multi-vitamin and increased the CoQ10 intake to 400 mg, but saw no improvement. I tried decreasing my "light caffeine" coffee consumption, but again, no difference. Recently, I cut down on the amount of milk I use in my coffee and stopped using magnesium and potassium and switched to eating bananas because I was suffering from irritable bowel, but that seemed to stop the irritable bowel and reduced my pvcs a bit. I then decided to stop taking CoQ10 and that's when my pvcs stopped again altogether! I have an odd beat here and there, maybe a couple a day, but no more pauses and thumps, no more breathlessness, or any other symptoms from pvcs. They're gone again and I think I may know why this time.
For me, I believe it is a combination of the banana diet, alkalizing my blood, but most importantly, increasing the vitamin D levels in my blood that put an end to my pvcs. Oddly enough, I think that the high levels of CoQ10 actually made the problem worse! My pvcs disappeared altogether when I stopped using CoQ10. While it might sound strange that it is vitamin D that helped me overcome pvcs, keep in mind that vitamin D also affects calcium absorption in your body, and of course, calcium is a crucial component in triggering muscle contractions in the heart. So, could it be that the increase in vitamin D helped my body absorb more calcium and that was my base problem (low calcium)? Is it possible that the base problem was that my magnesium was actually high and the increase in calcium simply put the ratio of magnesium and calcium in proper balance? I don't know, since increasing vitamin D has a plethora of effects on the body. I cannot say why increasing the vitamin D level in my body has helped; I'm simply telling you the results in the hope that any part of this information could help you.
The point to all of this is that we all have individual differences and each of our bodies may react differently to each treatment method. There are many pvc sufferers that will swear that CoQ10 stopped their pvcs altogether, but it didn't help when I was taking it and my pvcs stopped when I stopped using it. What might have worked for one person, might not work for you because your chemistry is unique to you. This is why some treatments work for some people and fail for others. For the most part, pvcs are not a big enough problem in the medical community to study in deeper detail because they are usually benign and it seems that they can be caused by a myriad of factors.
As for me, my message to anyone who is considering ablation as a solution is to stop and reconsider what changes you can make in your lifestyle that could potentially be causing your pvcs. IF your pvcs are benign, then you have time to test and try different strategies that might work for you. Don't just try it for a week and if it doesn't work, then give up and abandon the idea. Some strategies take longer than others to implement. Ask yourself:
How much caffeine or other stimulants to I intake daily? If you're taking in a lot, try to reduce and note the effect.
Do you use tobacco? Try quitting and see if it helps (it didn't with me, but it has with other people)
Is your diet rich in magnesium and potassium? I believe bananas helped with me, though oddly, I don't believe that potassium glutonate made much of a difference.
Have you tried CoQ10? Some suffers swear it alleviated their pvcs, but I think I built up a level that was too high in my blood, which might have made blood conditions worse for my pvcs.
Do you eat a lot meats, dairy, and refined grains? These acidify your blood. Would you still consider ablation if changing your diet would get rid of your pvcs? Try eating watermelon or try the lemon & baking soda treatment.
What is your vitamin D3 level? Mine was really,really low, and oddly, I think one of the biggest factors in getting rid of my pvcs was getting my vitamin D level up. KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU CAN GET VITAMIN D TOXICITY SO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR FIRST BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING.
How much water do you drink daily? Keeping hydrated is really important. I remember several weeks ago when I was walking through a Lowe's hardware store my pvcs up kicked so bad I thought I was going to faint because I couldn't draw a breath, but then I grabbed a bottled water at a checkout and right away the pvcs decreased to the point where I could at least get my breath and didn't feel like I was going to faint.
I think one of the biggest factors is how much stress you have in your life. While I do a good job of managing my stress without prescript
ions, I have noticed that my pvcs are worse in times of great stress. If you can reduce your stress on your own without medication, then you're already ahead of the game.
It could possibly be a combination of some or all of these things that get rid of your pvcs. Personally, I believe that a vast majority of the cases are blood disorders in which either the electrolyte balance is not right for the heart tissue through which it pumps, thus aggravating that heart tissue and causing the chamber to pump prematurely, or it is an issue where the ph balance is off, again aggravating heart tissue to fire prematurely.
Good luck to all who suffer from these things. I hope this information is useful to someone out there.
Post Edited (jim f) : 11/12/2012 2:52:32 PM (GMT-7)