Today I will be discussing the keto diet for anyone with atrial fibrillation.
What you should be aware of if you are considering the keto diet with atrial fibrillation.
The keto diet is an extremely popular and controversial diet right now, and it was actually one of the top Google search terms of 2018, so there are many, many people interested in the keto diet, and I've had several patients of mine ask me about the keto diet and whether I think it's safe for them to use since they have atrial fibrillation.
I have talked in the past that weight loss can be very effective for improving symptoms of atrial fibrillation.
There have been several studies in the past that have shown that 10% weight loss of a patient's initial body weight can result in over 40% improvement in a person's AFib symptoms. But what diet type should people use? People want to know what diet is good for them and whether the keto diet specifically is an okay diet to use.
For those of you who are not aware, what is the keto diet? What does it do?
The keto diet is a very popular diet right now which is a very, very low carb diet. It's such a low carb diet that it induces what is called a state of ketosis, and that means it induces your body to use an alternative fuel source other than sugar, which are ketones and thus breaking down fat molecules and it can result in a very rapid weight loss. It has been very popular, and you've probably seen celebrities and other people online who have used a keto diet and have had rapid weight loss. It seems to be pretty effective as a weight loss regimen.
But, is it safe medically speaking for people who have heart conditions or specifically atrial fibrillation?
There are, unfortunately, only a few case reports out there that have demonstrated that the ketosis, the state of the diet where you have more ketones in your blood, can actually trigger episodes or lead to more episodes of atrial fibrillation. It's just a very few small case reports. There's not a whole lot of literature out there. However, it does make a little bit of sense that the keto diet could in essence affect or contribute to getting more episodes of atrial fibrillation.
How can the keto diet potentially cause more episodes of atrial fibrillation?
Well, the whole state of ketosis or having ketones in your body does actually affect your body’s pH. That is the acid-based balance that we have in our blood and in our body. There's a lot of literature out there, and a lot of website articles out there that talk about an acidic keto diet versus an alkaline keto diet, and these are all things related to the pH inside of a person's body. The way the keto diet can affect your pH in your body can certainly have an affect on triggering episodes of atrial fibrillation. The heart is very sensitive to changes in the pH. It can lead to short circuits and extra beats, also called ectopic beats, which can then end up triggering episodes of atrial fibrillation.
In addition, these states of ketosis can also affect your electrolyte imbalances, and many of you are aware about potassium and magnesium deficiencies, which can also contribute to episodes of atrial fibrillation.
Hence it does make sense that doing the keto diet can affect or can potentially trigger episodes of atrial fibrillation. It makes sense medically. There is just not a lot of data out there currently demonstrating the use of the keto diet in patients with atrial fibrillation.
This is the main reason why I do not typically recommend my patients to start the keto diet. I've just seen a couple of case reports that show it may not be beneficial for patients who have atrial fibrillation. However it does look that it's very good as a weight loss strategy, however, for people with atrial fibrillation it may not be the right strategy.
When it comes to atrial fibrillation as well as patients with heart disease, for many years now there's been a lot of good data and articles supporting the use of the Mediterranean diet for atrial fibrillation as well as for patients with heart disease as more of a safer alternative. But always discuss diet plans with your doctor to find out what is the right diet for you.