Good morning and happy Monday! Wow this must be the first time I've been organised enough to get an email out on Monday morning - must be the fact that I'm on holidays! All is well in the sun, we are keeping active (I've joined the gym for 2 weeks), walking lots and swam in the surf a few times.

I've added a new section to my weekly emails - Heart Fact of the Week. As my interest is all things cardiac and heart related, I'm going to put more info up for you about how to keep your heart healthy, signs and symptoms to be aware of, and how to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels. Let me know if you have any ideas or requests.

Food of the week
Apple cider vinegar

For years my friend has been taking apple cider vinegar regularly and as I was visiting this week I noticed it again in her kitchen.  She swears it has helped improve her skin as well as reduced her knee pain so this week I have been looking into how and why it may help.
Apple cider vinegar contains several minerals including magnesiumphosphorus,calcium and potassium.  

It has been found that mineral deficiency can worsen joint pain, so a diet rich in essential minerals is an important step to relieving the pain of arthritis. The potassium in cider vinegar may be especially beneficial because it works to prevent acid build-up in the joints, which is linked to joint stiffness.
Apple cider vinegar is also rich in beneficial enzymes and acids that improve digestive health. Taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal will encourage proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. This is vitally important for those with arthritis or any digestion issues, as poor digestion can lead to deficiencies in minerals and other nutrients. These nutrients are crucial for joint health, so it is imperative that the body be capable of absorbing and using them. With apple cider vinegar, this is made possible even if you have arthritis.
Studies suggest that joint pain and arthritis may be linked to toxins accumulating in the joints, since metabolic waste is often stored in connective tissues. At the same time, people with joint pain tend to shun activities that might trigger more pain, and the lack of movement may cause toxins to build-up even more. The pectin in apple cider vinegar helps absorb toxins and move them out of the system, while the acids in cider vinegar work to purify and detoxify the entire body.
Unfortunately there has been no concrete scientific research that proves apple cider vinegar helps with joint pain however most doctors conclude that it will not cause any harm and may have a placebo effect. So why not!

How to Use Apple Cider

All of the benefits of apple cider vinegar can only be achieved with vinegar that is organic, raw, unfiltered and unprocessed. Your apple cider vinegar should be ruddy-colored with a noticeable amount of residue floating around in the bottle. This is the natural accumulation of beneficial enzymes and nutrients.
The simplest way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to mix 1-3 teaspoons in a glass of water three times per day, preferably just before meals. You can sweeten the drink with a small amount of honey if you like. 

I'll be honest, the taste isn't amazing, but it tastes....healthy!


Interactions to be aware of

Apple cider vinegar interacts with the following medications in large doses so be cautious if you take the following:
Digoxin, insulin, diuretics.


Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. Certain cells in your heart make electric signals that cause the heart to contract and pump blood. These electrical signals show up on an electrocardiogram (ECG) recording. Your doctor or cardiac specialist nurse can read your ECG to find out if the electric signals are normal.

In atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF), the heart’s two small upper chambers (atria) don’t beat the way they should. Instead of beating in a normal pattern, the atria beat irregularly and too fast, quivering like a bowl of jelly.  The heart will still pump blood around the body, but it won't be as effective.  You may also experience symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, or feel dizzy.

Your heart has a natural pacemaker, called the “sinus node,” that makes electrical signals. These signals cause the heart to contract and pump blood. With atrial fibrillation, random electrical activity interrupts the normal conduction rhythm. This prevents the atria from properly contracting.

It’s important for the heart to pump properly so your body gets the oxygen and fuel it needs. 

How do I test for AF?

If you have any symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations (feeling your heart pounding in your chest), dizziness or faint, have your doctor perform a full cardiac check including an ECG. You can perform a simple pulse check on your wrist to feel if your heart is regular (normal) or irregular (possible AF).  Watch this video here to see how it's done. 

What happens if I have AF?

There are many different treatment options for AF, including a range of medications, cardioversion and catheter ablation. The treatment recommended to each individual is based on their symptoms, length of time they have been in AF and response to medication. You may need to take anticoagulation to prevent stroke.

To find out more, read here or ask me for more information.