*I can’t give out medical advice or prescriptions & I certainly would never say that my diet & recommended supplements ‘cure’ SVT for everybody. It would be irresponsible for me to say that. All I can say is this is what I did to bring myself back into balance & rid myself of the condition – maybe it’ll work for you too.*
When I was 16 I was diagnosed with Supra-Ventricular-Tachycardia (SVT for short). I would experience severe arrhythmias to the point where I would almost faint. On the football field. In the car. And in the surf.
I remember one time on a freezing cold morning in South Australia, we were surfing amongst the icy waters clambering over marching waves & having a blast. As I paddled over one of the crashing waves my heart felt like it ‘dropped’ out of rhythm. The ensuing tachycardia (the abnormal heart beat) was intense, I could barely paddle. my arms felt like dead weights from a lack of oxygen & I felt light headed. Deciding that the risk wasn’t worth it, I managed to tumble to shore with the help of some roaring whitewater. I felt sick. Weak. Annoyed.
I clambered up to my car & waited for the typical arrhythmia to go away, as it normally did after about 3-5 minutes. However this time, it wouldn’t go away. I remember because I felt so tired getting into the car. It was incredibly difficult. I just felt like crawling into bed & sleeping but I knew I had work that day – & I needed the money.
I drove 20 minutes down the road to my workplace & sat in the car, closing my eyes & just praying to whoever would listen to end this craziness going on in my chest. Why me? All those cliche demands of the universe you make when you’re struck down by illness. Fumbling for my phone, I called Mum & told her what was going on. Did I need an ambulance? What should I do? And then it was gone. My heart paused achingly for a moment & almost reset its rhythm. Clever little organ. But it was the scariest experience I’d had with my SVT, & it wasn’t to be my last that’s for sure.
I visited the cardiologist with Mum soon thereafter & was sent home with a bunch of battery packs hooked up to my chest. A portable ECG machine. After 24 hours with the ghastly contraption strapped to my chest (I took great pleasure in showing the girls at school though) we had nothing to report; all normal, said the doc.
Further testing was recommended & a week or so later I found myself grumbling & sweating through a 10 minute jog on a treadmill, surrounded by curious doctors staring at me with an expectation that something might happen. The cords stuck to my chest whipped & flopped all over the place like a gecko’s tail & the doc’s weren’t phased. It looks like they think i’m about to blow up or something, I remember thinking.
Seemingly, nothing eventful was going to take place today either. But as I was slowing down, I felt my heart lift & then drop – the arrhythmia came just in time for the ECG to pick it up. I remember seeing my heart beat rocket on the machine well into the 200s from memory. Delighted murmurs ensued from the men in white coats as they scribbled unintelligible notes on their little clip boards.
“We know what this is Kale. It’s SVT.”
We were now sitting across from the head honcho cardiologist at Flinders Med. He was a nice guy. Pretty dry but relatively friendly. In the weeks following my successful treadmill run I’d been doing a little research on SVT & what having a little trickster heart would mean – I’d heard that nutrition might help, that I’d be dead by 30, that I’d faint in the ocean, drown & then be carried away by a whale in a modern version of Jonah & The Whale, except it would be Kale, His SVT & The Whale – it was all on the table as far as I was concerned.
“What might work is an ablation. This is a minor heart surgery…” I Baulked. “Where we cut you open, enter your heart & burn away a piece of the heart.” At that point he had a little heart figure thing in his hands and was quite literally pulling it apart. All I could imagine at that point were his white gloves, wet & slippery with my blood, tugging at my heart strings (not in a good way).
Upon asking why he needed to burn something to help me heal, the doc said he was going to burn away the Sino Atrial node because it was malfunctioning. He kept saying it might fix the problem. Luckily we actually had a family friend at this point who had had the procedure done like 5 or 6 times – he wasn’t in the best state of health anymore because he was getting weaker & weaker. As the doc continued his intricate exploration of the heart figurine in front of me, I pondered my future. I needed to keep surfing. That was life. If I couldn’t surf, hell you could throw me in the ocean withe my co-star, Whale, no, let’s call him Wilson, & I’d be out of there to some place else.
“Wilson, take me to Casaway island.” I ordered, stirring astride my large blue friend with board in hand; a kamikaze mission, “Tom Hanks didn’t notice but I saw those lefts & rights on that reef. He don’t know what he’s missing.”
“Kale. Kale!” Mum’s voice shattered my inner reality & I was back in the droll office of the cardiologist, discussing my options. It was officially my decision at that point – the ball was in my court, the current in my ventricle, the beat in my atrium… you know what I mean.
“What about nutrition?” I asked. And that was the defining moment for me. The doc laughed the most condescending laugh I’d heard since my obese 3rd grade teacher used to pick on me in front of the class for pointing out her spelling errors on the white board. He looked down upon me & said, amused, “Nutrition’s got nothing to do with it.”
It was something in the way he waved his hand & looked away, that caught me. It was almost like he thought he was ObiWan trying to jedi me into believing him. He knew more than he was letting on, but perhaps he truly believed nutrition wasn’t to be considered seriously in any way. Regardless, even though he was a nice guy & well educated at what he does, that was the moment I thought to myself, no – I’m fixing this my way.
Arriving home with a new sense of certainty, Mum & I discussed what I was going to do. Mum was understanding & left everything up to me, but she also trusted the doctor. There wasn’t any pressure besides that inherent pressure which only Mums can apply without actually knowing they’re applying it.
“So the doc said that it’s got nothing to do with nutrition. My SVT. What do you think?” I stood across from an interesting lady who I would later call my mentor & inspiration. She had just delivered a speech to a room filled with people at a local golf club of all places. I can’t even remember what she spoke about, but here I was, asking her for advice.
“That’s fine. But the medical establishment don’t recognise any links between nutrition and the health of the heart electrically. In my opinion, if you work on some things, you never know what could happen; you just might heal.”
“Hogwash. I’m a vegetarian!” Right now I’m cringing at the pomposity of my declaration. “Of course I’m healthy already – it must be just a single nutrient I’m missing somewhere. Hmm… those veggie patties – are they fortified?”
She smiled knowingly – she’d seen this before, a naturopath of 40 years.
“The worst thing that can happen is that you get healthier. Why don’t you come & see me & we’ll give it a whirl.”
I sat down with my new mentor & we covered everything. I mean everything. From poo quality to macronutrient balance to exercise, water intake & what Coach called the big one – my SUGAR intake. In her opinion, high blood sugar would have a negative impact on the electrical functioning of the heart.
“Oh, but that’s fine I don’t eat sugar.”
“What do you have for breakfast lunch & dinner?”
“Wheat bix crunch, muesli bar & sandwich – no meat though – & then maybe pasta or risotto for dinner normally. See, no sugar.”
Coach pondered for a moment. Was I ready to hear it?
“Look Kale. You may not realise it but that’s a lot of sugar. In fact, that’s sugar at every meal. Your blood sugar will be sitting sky high all day long with that diet.”
We covered the rest of it & coach basically recommended me a more Paleo esque diet, which wasn’t called Paleo at the time – it was just called Healthy. She also recommended me some supplements to take, which she said were essential in giving my body the nutrition it was missing out on; “food isn’t what it used to be,” she’d say.
Over the next 6 months or so (it may have been 9 – I can’t remember exactly), I proceeded to slowly change my diet. I cut out sugars from wheat, dairy & refined foods & went more toward fruit & seeds & nuts & all that raw food stuff. I was stoked, it was super easy as far as I was concerned. It was just more expensive for Mum. I took my pills with gusto, with help from Kylie, my step mum, & I went about life as normal.
From a frequency of 1-2 per week, my arrthymia attacks (I called them heart attacks) began to drop significantly. If one did come, I would squeeze my body & hold my breath & they seemed to go away most of the time. Every now & then a stubborn heart attack would hold its grip on me for longer than I’d like, but al in all I was okay with it, as long as the road was looking good.
Breakfast would look like some raw granola, lunch would be a salad with some animal protein (maybe – i was pretty vegan at the time) & dinner was the same. I didn’t realise it but I was still consuming a fair bit of sugar, but from better sources. I look back now & I realise that the results were good, but they weren’t amazing until I actually adopted a more strict Paleo style diet.
When I cut out even the natural sugars, I experienced the best health of my life. These natural sugars weren’t evil or anything, it’s just they weren’t working for me at that time. Coach said I needed to put some time in to establish a healthy gut before I should evolve my diet a little more.
“Um, coach. Mate, my gut is down here, my heart is up here. Are you high on those pills you’ve got me taking?”
This was at a time when only the dudes real deep in the wellness movement or microbiologists knew of the power of the gut. It wasn’t mainstream news & I certainly had no intentions of becoming the ‘gut guy’ like I am today.
I put some more work in refining my diet. And the SVT kept dwindling into the past like an old friend I could sit back & reminisce on. Wellness had opened up its doors to me & I had walked inside to be greeted with open arms by all the different vegetables & nuts & seeds I could hug, kiss & eat at one time.
I still experienced the odd heart attack throughout the year. I brought it on through the pursuit of crossfit a few times. Just pushing the boundaries too much. It came on when I was out in freezing cold temperatures surfing a few times – but for me, I felt fixed. It wasn’t a problem anymore & I felt as fit & healthy as I’d ever been.
To this day, I still don’t know exactly what it was which helped me cure my SVT (I do hate that word ‘cure’). Really, I just think that my body was out of balance at the time, & it just took me getting the right raw materials in through diet & supplements to bring it back into balance. I firmly believe that’s all disease is. I didn’t ‘have’ SVT, I wasn’t an ‘SVT’ sufferer, I was just experiencing SVT as a warning from my body to tell me that it was time to get back into balance.
SVT is still one of those ‘mystery’ conditions people have. And it’s surprised me to find so any people suffering from it. I had no idea. Through my own research & study now, I tend to point the finger at high blood sugar, lack of minerals, trace elements & key antioxidants & of course the omnipresence of EMFs which could be causing the problem. That’s my opinion as a researcher on health.
A key moment for me as I entered the wellness space & left SVT behind was working with an amazing man called Peter. Peter came to me as a referral when I was health coaching, through my great friend Jason. Peter was experiencing the same SVT as I had when I was younger. Low & behold, I shared with Peter what I did myself to fix the problem when I was young. He was pretty enthused but I could tell he was a little dubious.
“The worst thing that can happen is that you get healthier. Why don’t you come & see me & we’ll give it a whirl.” I echoed my now favourite advice.
Here’s Peter’s story.
It was a chance meeting that led me to Kale Brock. My wife and I attended a talk given by Kale one evening at our friend’s organic café. During the presentation I was very surprised to find out that when Kale was younger he had suffered from a similar health condition that I had recently been diagnosed with at age 50 – Atrial Tachycardia (rapid and irregular heart beats caused by a problem with the electrical system that flows from the upper to the lower chambers of the heart and triggers the heartbeat). By following Kale’s lead and suggestions and making some significant nutritional and lifestyle changes, I was very pleased when my Cardiologist recently advised that I no longer require any of the medications that I had previously been prescribed and was taking on a daily ongoing basis. I am absolutely loving the journey that I’m now on, continually learning more about better health and nutrition. I am relieved that I no longer have to take medication which merely masked an underlying problem and for which I also had concerns about how taking these drugs might effect my health long term. As a bonus byproduct I am now also enjoying life in a body 20kgs lighter than I was 4 months ago and feeling so much better in general. Thanks so much to Kale for openly sharing his experience, knowledge, on-going advice and genuine care to help me improve my health and life. Kale’s an absolute legend.
I was so stoked to get this story from Peter because it solidified for me the principles I had learned could bring a body back into balance.
I wrote The Gut Healing Protocol – which includes all those principles, because I wanted to share the ideas even further. And there were some amazing results (www.kalebrock.com.au/changedlives).
For SVT specifically, I set up a little resources page for further links/supplements etc etc www.kalebrock.com.au/svt
I can’t give out medical advice or prescriptions & I certainly would never say that my GHP diet & recommended supplements ‘cure’ SVT for everybody. It would be irresponsible for me to say that. All I can say is this is what I did to bring myself back into balance & rid myself of the condition – maybe it’ll work for you too.
If you do suffer from SVT, I hope this gives you some light at the end of the tunnel.
To my amazing coach & mentor, thank you so much for everything you’ve taught me over the years.
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