AF Association
13,178 members16,065 posts

Cause of Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

Treatments for AF pretty much focus on drugs and ablations with diet, supplement, and exercise recommendations. Most of the time none of these eliminate atrial fibrillation long term; yet help in the short term. Each can have positive and negative consequences. Maybe research is required in areas not presently being done. I don’t have medical training and only know my own personal experience over the past four years; but, for what it may be worth to some who read this, I will provide a summary of what I have concluded. I do not take any medications and do not have other health issues.

The brain tells the heart what to do and the spine is the nerve highway to allow this to happen. There could be other reasons the heart fibrillates so what I have related below then may not apply.

Finally I have found a nerve trained chiropractor who focuses on whole body health and how the nerves in the spine and neck impact my health. With my feedback, he has been able to significantly reduce my AF episodes. He has not finished trying to eliminate them entirely. I have experienced many other health improvements as well.

He looks for subluxations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertebral_subluxation) in structure that is out of alignment and corrects this. My wife and I have both experienced positive health changes. And my wife was the most skeptical yet has experienced the most benefit between the two of us.

The nerves that impact the heart are most affected by neck vertebrae C1 and thoracic vertebrae T1, T2 and T5. Vertebrae adjacent to these can also have an impact.

Many adjustments may be required to correct subluxations in vertebrae.

If you pay attention to your heart’s performance, you will come to learn how the adjustments impact the heart.

After about 50 adjustments, TI and T2 seem to stay where they should be. C1 now has less impact and T5 is still a challenge. I can now tell which vertebrae cause my heart to misbehave. My chiropractor is amazed that I know this.

Most of the time I can move my back to stop my heart from entering AF or missing beats.

Now most AF episodes start within 2 minutes of lying down. I usually only need to stand to return the heart to sinus. Sometimes, I need to manipulate my back; but, if I don’t catch the AF quick enough, I cannot stop it. My heart then stays in AF from 2 to 4 hours unless I go for a walk and 98% of the time it will stop after 30 minutes of walking.

My heart rate used to be in the low 50’s and now it is in the 60’s or 70’s most of the time. Low heart rate and missing beats often lead to AF.

I have noticed, that when my heart is missing beats, my systolic blood pressure is higher. If I adjust my back and the heart returns to pure sinus, this pressure reduces to normal.

I have a three lead EKG device which I can use to verify what my heart is doing. From what I have learned from the charts I have recorded, I pretty much always know, by feeling the pulse in my wrist, what my heart is doing. There could be specific attributes that I don’t know but it is unlikely there are any significant bad things happening.

As an aside, many AF suffers incur frequent urination during an AF episode. The nerves that impact the kidneys are located at or near T5. Perhaps subluxations in this area cause this response as I know they impact the heart response.

Vagal maneuvers are thought to impact the heart. If you pay attention, you will note that they impact your spine and maybe this causes the nerve signals to the heart to change.

Humans now spend a lot of time on devices and sitting which negatively impacts the spine. Maybe this is the reason more people have AF.

Many of you will poke holes in what I have related and you could be right. But for me, the positive results I have obtained make me think I made a wise choice in exploring this option. The key to success is finding a chiropractor who has extra training about nerves, who can competently adjust C1 and is willing to try what you ask. This website is that of the chiropractor who treats me. (http://roachchiropractic.com) You may find something useful on his site or some insight into who you should choose as a chiropractor, if you decide to explore this way to perhaps help you reduce or eliminate your AF symptoms.

As far as I can tell, this approach has not been researched and the doctors who help you will likely say this cannot help. Yet, this is likely conjecture with no concrete justification for this opinion. I asked Sanja Gupta and this was his opinion but he did not did not justify his opinion. AF is a multi-billion dollar business so research that could prove that this approach is effective will likely not happen any time soon since there is no money available to do it, no money to be made and a lot of money to be lost.

So poke holes and lets see what you can teach me which is the reason most of us are so positive about this website.

25 Replies
oldestnewest

As I always say. The only right thing is what is right for you.

2 likes
Reply

Very interesting, thank you. Who knows the body and mind is so complex it may well be that you and your chiropractor are on to something. Any ideas which go someway to finding a treatment and ultimately a cure for af is welcome.

3 likes
Reply

Good to hear from you EngMac

I think it's always wise to keep an open mind on what could be the cause of AF. Any ideas anyone has, no matter how strange they sound are always of interest to me, so thank you for yours and fire away everyone.

At the moment my suspicion is on inflammation/infection in the body being the cause. That's since having a root filled tooth extracted that started being a problem infection wise around the time my AF started, 12 years ago, and now being AF free for over 5 months.

Jean

4 likes
Reply

I agree Jean.

Reply

Interesting.

Reply

You make a lot of good points and I happy that you have found something that is helpful for you! That's the most important thing! The causes and triggers for AFib are so multifactorial that it makes it difficult to predict and manage for sure. The point that I will contest in your assessment is that the frequent urination during an episode of AFib is caused by ANP...atrial natriuretic peptide which is a potent diuretic to try to decrease blood pressure and correct electrolyte imbalances that occur when the atria are firing so rapidly and randomly. I am a huge fan of holistic approaches to health, and you are correct, our heart hears what we are thinking and it is a great thing to be positive and to find every way possible to be heart healthy by keeping the body well adjusted. Wishing you wellness!

6 likes
Reply

Thanks for posting Engmac. I think you may well have something, I expect the key question for most here is how did you persuade yourself at the beginning to follow this complicated route (previous posts suggest you have spent a lot of time and no doubt expense on getting to where you are) when a beneficial outcome was so uncertain.

I can't poke holes in your theory but in support I have noted realigning the neck and back with pillows at night helps (some say this works because it makes the heart work a tad more) and I have found a Qigong exercise, which focusses on neck and stomach muscles helps. Also losing weight seems to help many and that no doubt realigns the back. Lastly, Jean mentioned she has stopped AF by stretching her arms out behind her while lying flat - possibly another nerve/back realignment.

Keep up the good work.

1 like
Reply

Thank you Engmag for your open mind and for sharing your experiences. I/we will try to look at this aspect of AF. Just now we are working with LCHF diet, best possible natural nutrition, changes of life style, some supplements adjusting mineral balance at body. All that had to be convenient for person having diabetes and AF. We will add to our approach your point of view for which I am very grateful.

Reply

Fascinating. And thank you for posting that.

I can't imagine that anyone would be able to poke holes in your argument: at worst what you have found will only work for a few of us. At best it may point to a common cause for many of us.

My guess (and it really is just a guess) is that for many of us (in particular those whose AF appears to be vagally mediated) the cause is due to some kind of issue in the nervous system, be it an agravation in some other organ (those with tooth issues, back issues, digestive issues etc.) which have somehow become "cross-wired" to the heart.

I think it's well known that cross-wiring does occur (take synaesthesia as an example) and that is possible to influence organs indirectly via the nervous system (that being the principles behind reflexology, accupuncture, etc.)

Whether that's relevant to all AF sufferers is of course unclear. But that by no means invalidates anything you have found or its potential usefulness for many of us.

Thank you for sharing. I'll be very interested to see if what you have found could lead to something that v works for others.

Steve

4 likes
Reply

Interesting article but I am very wary of chiropracters and osteopaths, and indeed physios if they do manipulations of the spine, as a first line of treatment. As a physio, I think a high velocity, un reversible movement of a joint is a last resource in a treatment plan, especially in the neck. One false move and there could be paraplegia. Start gently and try not to link everything to the spine.

A typical example happened recently. We were visiting friends in France whose daughter in law had bad low back pain. She had seen a chiropracter in San Francisco, who had manipulated her spine, to no effect. Within a minute of seeing her it was patently obvious that it was probably a severe kidney infection, which she had suffered for three weeks. We took her down to the clinic and a good physical examination confirmed my suspicions. The scan showed a large kidney stone.

Maybe this is my professional bias, but the first rule of treatment has always been: "First do no harm".

If it works for you, then fine, but be wary.

5 likes
Reply

I would also like to reinforce Maggimunro 's post about chiropractors. My wife had several treatments for damage from a car accident and although they helped it never lasted long enough to be useful, and caused longer term problems.

1 like
Reply

I have learned that not all chiropractors are equal; and that, to correct problems, can take many adjustments. The best approach is likely to visit a chiropractor on a regular basis as you do the dentist or eye doctor. Once your back is ok, regular visits will keep it ok. Otherwise when it becomes not ok again, it will take more time to make it ok once more. Not all chiropractors have this point of view and many correct a problem, if you make enough visits, and then don't see you until the problem comes back and you choose to visit again.

The likely hood of negative problems from chiropractic adjustments is very small unless the chiropractor treats you inappropriately. This applies to all medically trained personnel. The cost of liability insurance for chiropractors is often less than what it costs to insure your car.

There is a huge volume of misinformation about chiropractors which is unfortunate since many people mis out on solutions to health problems as a result. If you can find it, read the book "Chicken Soup for the Soul" about chiropractors. The stories are amazing.

Reply

Hi EngMac, as we used to say," yer pays yer money, yer takes yer choice". The choice here is between treatment regimens where there is a body of evidence showing efficacy against another treatment where there is none.

Reply

There's many good points in your original post and the thread of comments that followed.

AF appears to be tuned to each person, yours is focusing on your back whereas I focus on digestion and the vagal nerve. I'm peculiar in that I hear my pulse (tinnitus) and on many occasions have heard AF start, then stopped immediately by straightening my back, usually by standing. You might claim this confirms your current theory whereas I put it down to removing pressure in the abdominal area and on the vagal nerve. I don't know whose right, perhaps we both are.

Keep us posted on your progress. There's definite interest in what you've mentioned.

Good luck.

Reply

Reading this about chiropractors scared the hell out of me.... whatstheharm.net/

Reply

Very interesting for me in particular. I have PAF and also a nerve trapped in C8 in my neck. Both of the conditions started at the same time. I have chronic pain with the C8 problem. I take morphine and am due to spend the day in hospital soon for nerve block treatment. I am absolutely petrified at the thought of it but wouldn't it be lovely if your theory is right and after treatment go back to normal. I have always thought that there could be a connection. Thank you for that. It gives me some hope Moreen

Reply

Hi CatAnn, the site you referenced seemed to be negative on a lot of treatments. Often the stroke situations have underlying health issues as part of the problem. For every negative story there is likely a positive story; however, the positive ones are often not published.

It is definitely difficult to know what to do. The researched and tested solutions for AF have significant impact on the quality of life as evidenced by probably the majority of posts on this site.

Hi Stivvy, you should ask about the nerve block long term results. If you are lucky enough to find a chiropractor who can fix C8, then you will likely have a permanent solution for the pinched nerve but maybe not to the PAF symptoms. I know, without a doubt, from my experience, that back and neck adjustments affect how my heart behaves. The problem is there has not been research done on how and what back and neck manipulations should be done to eliminate some types of AF, if this is even possible.

I was to my cardiologist yesterday. Originally, when I told him about my chiropractic experience, he was skeptical. Yesterday, he said he wants me to keep him abreast of my progress; and should I get continuing improvement, he said he may see if he can find funding for a study.

My mother-in-law who is 88 could not sit because of pain down her leg. For two years, she tried all forms of treatment, other than chiropractic, without success. Five chiropractic adjustments eliminated the pain and she has been pain free for two years.

Chiropractic adjustments often help; and the risk, unlike what is stated on the negative website, is low, which is supported by the very low mal-practice insurance costs. Insurance companies don't charge low fees for high risk.

Reply

Hi Stivvy,, there is no vertebrae called C8. If the problem is the first thoracic one which is T1, this could be why you have PAF as a result. The nerves that mainly impact the heart are affected by C1, T1, T2 and T5. I would wonder if they do a nerve block at T1 if this could impact the functioning of your heart. You should ask, by blocking this nerve, what does this affect. The nerve is doing something useful and may not when it is blocked. I am not medically trained but maybe you should clarify this before going ahead.

For me, it took about 30 adjustments to fix T1 and T2. I am 70 years old so they could have been messed up for a very long time. The chiropractor said the muscles try to keep the vertebrae in the current position and it takes time to retrain them. For a month or so, T1 did not need to be adjusted but yesterday it needed it again. This is why, if you go to a chiropractor on a regular basis, minor adjustments will keep the vertebrae in their proper place, once they are put there.

I would suggest that you look at Dr. Roach's website and try to find a chiropractor in your area who uses his approach and then see if your problem can be fixed. Nerve blocks may be a temporary solution, have risk, and may impede a bodily function negatively. If you go to a neurologist, you will get a neurologist solution. If you go to a chiropractor, you will get a chiropractic solution, one without drugs or surgery. I tend to like the latter as a first try.

Maybe someone more qualified than me will comment on the nerve block possibility.

Just some thoughts.

Reply

Stivvy, you may be lucky and get relief from one adjustment. This can and often happens. It may take more adjustments to keep TI in the correct place.

Reply

One more thought. Ti and T2 are not difficult to adjust. Before the chiropractor makes any adjustments, he/she should review your health history and may want to see X-rays, etc. You probably have already had these done. Don't be afraid to ask about the training the chiropractor has taken. Ideally, the chiropractor should have had nerve training over and above what was given to get an official medical qualification. Keep looking until you find the one that has the best qualifications and is qualified to adjust C1.

Reply

I guess I will add one more comment. The second chiropractor who looked at me said I needed some work even though I did not have any negative symptoms that I knew about, other than AF and a bit of occasional lower back pain. At this point in time, I was just beginning to learn about chiropractic. Before, I was totally negative and very skeptical. "Crack cranks" for sure I thought. I asked her about AF and she said she had not treated for it but knew which vertebrae affected the nerves to the heart. I asked her to adjust T1 and T2. She did with a significant challenge. She said it would take her a year to fix my neck and I am sure she was being truthful, since T1 and T2 were pretty much rigid and other neck vertebrae needed some attention. This did not include lower back, issues etc. I was lucky though. She said she would love to treat me but that I should see Dr. Roach because he had advanced nerve training and was qualified to treat C1, the one through which all the nerves from the brain to the spine pass. You don't want someone messing with C1 who is not trained to do so.

So do your research and make an informed decision. Talk to some chiropractors; and if you choose one to help you, don't stick with one who is not achieving positive results. You may find, as I have, they are not "Crack Cranks" but qualified medical doctors with a specialty.

Reply

This is a very interesting post. I have never been to a chiropractor, but I have noticed that moving my back, rocking, swinging my arm, lying down -- in other words, activities that change the position of my upper back -- can make afib start or stop. So far I had attributed the effect to stimulation of the vagus nerve.

Reply

I found your take on the subject of this irritating A-Fib very interesting and very educated on the subject...No holes to poke at for me, so you'll have to wait for the next hole poking person:) Your take on it really hits home! I am wondering how do we know when we have A-Fib? I had it once a year ago, and med's pushed at me instantly.. The usual suspects, eleoquis and the other new one one... Hummmm, I told them not so fast~ I am not convinced all this junk they through at us is always necessary... How do you know when your A-Fib stops?? They always tell me there is no way to know without an EKG ??? Now I am curious to know what you know about the subject and how to know when A-Fib has stopped, like you did after walking... You have really done your homework, which will provide you with a much healthier and certainly a longer life.. Proactive is the way to go! Bravo !!

1 like
Reply

EngMac,

As a Yoga based therapist I agree with you completely and could not have said it better myself...C

1 like
Reply

Hi Scardycat, I can tell if my heart is in AF by feeling the pulse in my wrist or you could feel the pulse in your neck. The feeling is an irregular pulse. It is all over the place. Sometimes you can feel delays between beats, which, for me, is an extra beat right after a regular beat. My EKG chart verifies what I feel in my pulse.

I have read that you can have AF and not feel it in the pulse. I have not experienced this I don't think. Sometimes I have had very short bursts of AF, but I can feel this in the pulse, or when one pays as much attention as I have for years, you get to know what the heart is doing. A real pain but you can learn to know. Of course you can miss them too. I suspect some doctors make statements about only an EKG can tell, but I doubt that they have had AF and are reluctant to listen to what their patients tell them. I don't think patients are encouraged to self-analyse.

I have learned that too quick taking drugs for very infrequent AF may not be the correct approach. It is known that drugs can sometimes make AF worse. Unfortunately, doctors don't often tell you how to detect an AF episode and to keep track of them to see if drugs are really needed before they are so quick to prescribe them. It is unlikely that you will die if you have an infrequent AF episode since you haven't already and you likely had some AF episodes before you actually paid attention. Very few people ever feel their pulse. More do now if they have a heart rate monitor but often these will not register an AF episode, so they give you a false sense of everything is fine.

Maybe the AF episodes are so infrequent and stop relatively quickly on their own, drugs may not be necessary at first or ever. Drugs and ablations can have some serious side effects and maybe this risk is worth weighing.

I would recommend people ask a chiropractor if they have any subluxations in the spine; and if they are at C1, T1, T2 or T5, then exploring if elimination of these might be worth a try. Most chiropractors may not have been asked these questions.

Since everyone has had different impacts to their spine over their lifetime and I don't think that there is any known adjustment protocol that will cure AF, pursuing this approach is a bit of a crap shoot. But so is drug therapy and ablations. But if you are lucky, and like many adjustments that eliminate nerve interference, maybe chiropractic adjustments can eliminate those that negatively impact the heart and this could even enable a better success rate for drug or ablation possibilities if you choose this route sometime in the future.

So much to consider.

Reply

You may also like...