I have developed cardiac arrhythmia just in the past month (mid-December to now), so I am not up on all the acronyms used on this forum. The symptom is an early beat rather than a fast or slow over-all beat speed. My resting pulse is around 58. The early beat might be one in five beats or one in 30. It varies widely, and is more noticed by me after eating or when first going to bed, especially if I am lying on my left side. I am 63 years old working in Shanghai, China where the air quality is poor (100-400 AQi in the winter, but hit a record over 800 once in December). I have only started wearing a respirator outdoors in the past two weeks, but plan to wear it any day the AQI is high (most days!). I have never been a smoker or heavy drinker. I am 5'6", 155 lbs. My blood pressure has not been more than slightly high until a couple of months ago after I spent a week in Beijing (December 7-13). A Chinese doctor has diagnosed the arrhythmia as related to the left ventricle and suggested radiofrequency catheter ablation. He also mentioned medication (Metopropol succinate and Mexiletine hydrochloride) as an alternative, but seemed heavily in favor of ablation. He thought my condition was alarming and should be resolved A.S.A.P., based on the high frequency of the extra beat as noted by the ultrasound technician (ultrasound required my lying on my left side, so the symptom was likely exaggerated). He cautioned that the medication has significant side effects, and that I should decide between ablation and meds, since the meds would interfere with the ablation process. I bought but have not tried the meds, since nightmares was one side effect, and also since I am not yet sure I have a life-threatening problem.
The night after my doctor visit, I turned on the TV to see an investigative report on hospital / doctor conspiracies to bilk patients with false diagnoses and unneeded treatments. I know it is just a coincidence, but I had some thought along those lines even before seeing the TV story. China is widely known for graft, corruption, cheating, and fake drugs.
Can this be a temporary condition that might be resolved by better air quality or is surgery the only long-term solution? Is radiofrequency catheter ablation a standard procedure for early beat? Does this procedure have a very high risk? I'm trying to decide if I am nuts to allow a doctor in China to do this. The whole medical experience here is a bit chaotic, crowded, rushed, and no privacy (six patients crowd into the doctor's cubicle at once to try to get the doctor's attention, and listen carefully to everything the doctor tells me). Almost all hospitals in China are dingy and ramshackle, like a M.A.S.H. unit. I could fly back to the U.S. for the procedure, but I wonder if the delay and flight stress would be worth it, not to mention the cost being at least five times as much in the U.S.
I also have kept to a rather strict low-salt diet for years, and probably have been most observant in that this past two years. Can too little salt in the diet affect cardiac rhythm? I am now altering my diet a bit to include more salt, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, but no tablets or other supplements, just almonds, halibut, pumpkin seeds, etc. I have heard it said that doctors in the U.S. are highly trained in medicine and surgery, and not much trained in diet and nutrition, but I still want to know if any studies indicate nutrient deficiencies, poor air quality, or other environmental factors can adversely affect heart rhythm.