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Caffeine and Atrial Fibrillation
You may not realize it, but your heart is an electrical system. Each beat of your heart is started by an electrical pulse of what is called the sinus node, which is in the upper part of the right atrium (the top section of your heart, towards your right side). In normal sinus rhythm, the sinus node sends electrical impulses to the two upper chambers of your heart, the atria, and they then contract, or beat, simultaneously. 

Weight Loss Reduces Symptoms of A-Fib
Atrial fibrillation, or a-fib as it is often called, is essentially an irregular heartbeat. Instead of the electrical impulses governing the heart beat traveling through the heart in an orderly way, the impulses get disorganized, resulting in symptoms that range from imperceptible to feelings of the heart pounding or fluttering, or dizziness, chest pain, or shortness of breath.

Getting enough sleep?
Researchers at the Universities of Iowa and Wisconsin collaborated to assess the possible link between sleep duration and obesity (Arch Intern Med 2006;166:1701-1705). In an analysis of data collected from 990 working adults in the rural county of Keokuk, Iowa, they correlated self-reported sleep time with Body Mass Index.


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Steady your heart with omega-3 fatty acids

Way back in May of 2006 I reported on a study which indicated that omega-3 fatty acid supplements would help reduce one's heart rate at rest and improve the heart's recovery after exercise (Bite, 5/3/06). Other studies show that intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help you reduce your risk of sudden (cardiovascular) death (Bite 11/17/06). These and other factors imply a connection between omega-3 fatty acids and cardiac electrophysiology (the electrical functioning of the heart).

Heart rate variability - an inconstant heartbeat - is a known predictor of sudden death for heart disease patients. If consumption of omega-3 fatty acids through eating fish or through fish oil supplements will help regulate one's heart rate, and it can also help reduce your risk of sudden death through heart-related factors, it's reasonable to theorize that those fatty acids might well help regulate one's heart rhythm and reduce your risk of sudden death.

A multi-institutional team has recently evaluated the fish intake of over 4400 men and women over 65 and correlated their average fish oil intake (whether through supplements or through eating fish) with their measured level of heart rate variability. They found that, generally speaking, fish or fish oil consumption was indeed related to a positive result in certain measures of heart rate variability - but not all others - and more for some factors than others. It appears, however, that omega-3 fatty acids help to stabilize the heart rate - to the extent of reducing risk of death from heart disease by up to 35%.

What this means for you

More healthy heart news for those who eat fatty fish regularly. I recommend that you eat fish 2-3 times a week, so pick one of the popular fish recipes below, and let's get started!

Halibut: Halibut with Basil Pea Puree | Halibut with Dill Pesto Orzo | Halibut with Peanut Cilantro Butter
Salmon: Saffron Salmon Risotto | Salmon in Parchment with Mangoes | Salmon with Caper Mayonnaise
Other Fish: Blackened Redfish [ Low Sodium Version ] | Fish Enchiladas | Oven Fried Fish [ Low Sodium Version ]

First posted: March 5, 2008