Is Taking Supplements OK When You Have AFib?

Looking for ways to avoid atrial fibrillation episodes and keep your heart in normal rhythm? What about preventing other heart problems that are linked to AFib, such as a greater chance of stroke or heart failure?

Taking supplements and vitamins could be one part of the plan to boost your heart health. There's no substitute for getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs from foods, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. But if you're eating healthy and still short on certain nutrients, some supplements may help.

Talk to your doctor about which ones could be good for you before you start taking anything new, to make sure you don't cause problems with your medication.

Magnesium

This mineral helps keep your heart rhythm steady. When you don't have enough of it in your body, you may have an irregular heartbeat.

Studies suggest magnesium supplements may also help lower blood pressure slightly. Other research has shown that getting magnesium through an IV may help control AFib for some people in the hospital.

But if you take digoxin to help control your heart rate, magnesium supplements may interfere with how it gets absorbed by your body so the medicine won't work as well.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

It's an antioxidant that your body makes, and your cells won't work properly without it. CoQ10 levels go down as you get older. It may be low in people with heart problems.

In one Chinese study, people with heart failure who took CoQ10 along with their regular meds had fewer episodes of AFib after 12 months. There's also science that suggests taking CoQ10 may help people with heart failure feel better. It may also help lower high blood pressure.

Even though CoQ10 supplements are safe for most people, it can make the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) less effective, which could raise the risk of getting clots.

Wenxin Keli

Early research shows the extract of a mixture of five different Chinese herbs may help treat occasional, or paroxysmal, AFib.

But some people in those studies had problems when they took it, so more testing is needed. Definitely check with your doctor before you try this supplement.

Continued

Fish Oil

The jury is out on whether the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements are linked to a lower chance of AFib. What we do know is that omega-3s lower the odds of abnormal heartbeats. They may also help cut down levels of fats called triglycerides in your blood and lower blood pressure.

The best way to get omega-3s is to eat at least two servings of fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or tuna every week. If you have heart disease or high triglycerides, your doctor may suggest you take a fish oil supplement.

Fiber

Psyllium, a form of fiber in many supplements, can help lower both "bad" LDL cholesterol and your total cholesterol levels. Controlling your cholesterol can help you avoid other health problems related to AFib.

Women should try to get about 25 grams of fiber per day; men should aim for 38 grams.

Phytosterols

Because these plant compounds are similar to cholesterol, they compete with it so your body doesn't absorb as much from food.

Experts recommend getting 2 grams of phytosterols every day to help lower "bad" cholesterol levels in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol make strokes more likely.

You can find small amounts of phytosterols in nuts and legumes, whole grains, and vegetables and fruits. They're added to some brands of margarine spreads and orange juice. Or you can get plant sterols and stanols in a supplement.

Vitamin K

If you're on the blood thinner warfarin, you probably already know that supplements (and food) with vitamin K may make the medicine not work as well. Check multivitamin labels to make sure you're not taking it accidentally.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on August 07, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Heart Association: "Treatment and Prevention of Atrial Fibrillation," "Prevention Strategies for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF)," "Vitamin Supplements: Hype or Help for Healthy Eating," "Atrial Fibrillation Medications," "Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids."

Mayo Clinic: "Atrial Fibrillation: Symptoms and causes," "Atrial Fibrillation: Self-management," "Magnesium Supplement (Oral Route, Parenteral Route)," "Coenzyme Q10," "Atrial fibrillation: Treatment," "Cholesterol-Lowering Supplements May Be Helpful."

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: "Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals," "Vitamin K: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals."

The American Journal of Cardiology: "Meta-analysis of Magnesium Therapy for the Acute Management of Rapid Atrial Fibrillation."

Heart: "Use of intravenous magnesium to treat acute onset atrial fibrillation: a meta‐analysis."

OSU Linus Pauling Institute: "Magnesium," "Coenzyme Q10," "Fiber."

NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): In Depth," "Omega-3 Supplements."

Journal of Investigative Medicine: "Effect of coenzyme Q10 on the incidence of atrial fibrillation in patients with heart failure."

International Journal of Cardiology: "The Chinese herb extract Wenxin Keli: A promising agent for the management of atrial fibrillation."

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "The Effects of Wenxin Keli on P-Wave Dispersion and Maintenance of Sinus Rhythm in Patients with Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials."

Heart Rhythm: "Atrial-selective inhibition of sodium-channel current by Wenxin Keli is effective in suppressing atrial fibrillation."

World Journal of Cardiology: "Omega 3 and atrial fibrillation: Where are we?"

eatright.org: "Easy Ways to Boost Fiber in Your Daily Diet."

Cleveland Clinic: "Phytosterols, Sterols & Stanols."

American Stroke Association: "Understanding Risk."

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination