Magnesium for ectopics and palpitations with Dr Sanjay Gupta

In episode #46, Paul talks with consultant cardiologist Dr Sanjay Guptaon a supplement that he’s found to be beneficial for cardiac patients who experience ectopics and palpitations.

Dr Sanjay Gupta is a Consultant Cardiologist, with specialist ...

And that supplement is Magnesium and in this episode Dr Gupta takes us through what ectopics and palpitations are and why he recommends taking magnesium for them. He talks about the various types of magnesium available and which ones to buy and which ones to avoid.

There’s lots of great help if you are experiencing ectopics or palpitations or just want to know a little more about what goes on in your heart. Another essential listen from this popular YouTube cardiologist.

Available to listen on the link below or Spotify, Apple , Google, YouTube and your favourite podcast player.

#046 Magnesium for ectopics and palpitations with Dr Sanjay Gupta

Paul Swindell: [00:00:10] Hello and welcome to another episode of the life after cardiac arrest podcast with me, your host, Paul Swindell. And today I'm joined by Dr Sanjay Gupta, who is a consultant cardiologist at the York teaching hospital and has a specialist interest in cardiac imaging.

And he has a popular social media presence and can often be seen doing YouTube and Facebook videos on cardiac related matters.

And he's also got a fantastic collection of shirts, which I'm very jealous of actually.

Thank you

He's done a number of videos and all sorts of cardiac issues like palpitations, anxiety, ectopics, AFib, but his most popular one is on magnesium, which has got over one and a half million views on, and that post had 7,000 comments on.

And this is the subject we're going to be talking about today.

So welcome again, Dr Gupta.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:01:05] Thank you for having me Paul.

Paul Swindell: [00:01:07] It's great to speak with you again.

So can you tell me why you did a video on magnesium? Cause it doesn't immediately spring to mind as being a cardiac subject?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:01:17] Yeah. I think it all started because I was interested in talking about heart palpitations. And in particular, one of the commonest, Heart rhythm disorder causing heart palpitations is something called ectopic heartbeats. These are transient extra beats that tend to occur virtually in everyone, but tend to be very much noticed by those people who carry a degree of anxiety.

And when they happen, they can be really, really scary.

The problem well, with these is that, although we recognize them not to be dangerous. They are incredibly scary for patients. When the patient comes to the doctor, the doctor will say, Oh, you've just got a few a topic beads. They're not dangerous. Don't worry about it.

Because the patient can't understand this. He can't understand. He only knows what it feels like. There's very, there was very little support for such patients. You know? No one really talked about ectopics because they were not dangerous. So, in some way they were not important to the medical field because they were not dangerous.

But for patients, and particularly those patients who, who tend to be anxious about their health anyway, it was really something very big, so I felt that I could explain ectopics in a way that made sense to me, and because I did that, I did a video on ectopic heartbeats. A lot of people responded very favourably to that video.

They really felt that I was providing them with information that they hadn't been provided by their own healthcare practitioners. Many of them had been suffering from ectopic beats for 20-30 years. They developed chronic health anxiety as a result.

Really, really terrible stories when you heard them.

As I started doing more videos around ectopic heartbeats, I came across a bunch of people who talked about the fact that magnesium had helped their ectopic heartbeats.

No one had really talked about it on a big scale. These were just anecdotal reports from people who said, well, I took some magnesium and it's really made a big difference. And I thought, well, it'd be interesting to look into this to see whether it really works.

Does it really work?

And do you know?

And if it does, maybe I should talk about it.

I then went and did some reading around the subject and as a doctor, you want to feel like you have some kind of scientific evidence to back up your recommendations.

And I found a very, very small study in Brazil where they used magnesium. They gave magnesium to patients with ectopic heartbeats and they got some really good results and they describe 80 to 90% of patients feeling better.

And although it was a really tiny study and it was in an obscure journal, it gave me enough to be able to feel like I could talk about it.

And I said, well, you know, there is this and here is a study which talked about it. The problem is, the minute you mentioned something like this, people say, well, we want proper studies. We want bigger studies.

Those bigger studies will never be done because magnesium is never going to make money for anyone. And, therefore. Here was something that did have some kind of evidence base. The next step was to try and just recommend it to people, because to my mind, I was confident that it was a safe supplement to use.

So, I thought to myself, well, why dont I talk about it with two people and say, look, there was a small study which suggested it was beneficial. You could try it. It's not dangerous. If suddenly you find that things are better than it's worked for you, and if you don't feel any better then it's maybe not for you.

And on the basis of that video, a lot of people started using magnesium. And I got a ton, a ton of replies, a ton of comments saying, well, you know, when I started taking the magnesium, my palpitations got better. I spoke to my colleagues at work about this and they said, well, how can you recommend this?

There's no really big evidence. And I said to myself, well, do I really need the evidence? Because if the person in front of me who comes to me with a complaint says his problem is better after taking it. Then that's all the evidence I need. We are prescribing this or we are recommending this to improve a person's quality of life, and quality of life is a very individual thing and it has to be measured by that individual's own yardstick.

And so. I started recommending it, and a lot of people responded amazingly to it because they felt, gosh, no one has talked to us about these supplements. when you look, The FDA, the, everywhere. We are chronically depleted of magnesium. This is well-published. It's a well-recognized that three quarters of the population are deficient in magnesium, so it made sense.

When I started recommending it, people said they slept better.

People said that they felt calmer.

People felt that their ectopics got less.

Some people found that their other heart rhythm disturbances, like atrial fibrillation got less anecdotes, that these are not big studies, but how many anecdotes do you need to feel convinced that it's worth trying out?

And that's what's happened with magnesium and me.

Paul Swindell: [00:06:20] Can we just, go over what is exactly a palpitation and what is an ectopic? What is actually going on in our hearts when we, we feel those? I'm I don't think I've ever really had palpitations so much, but after my, cardiac arrest. I was very much aware of what I called missed beats.

Is that what our an ectopic is?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:06:43] The missed beats where you describe a skipping or a fluttering or a miss beat followed by a big thud, those are ectopic beats. So, palpitation is a symptom. Okay. Any time the patient says, my heart feels like it's doing something it shouldn't be doing or it feels odd, that's a palpitation.

Different heart rhythm disturbances can cause palpitations. So, you you may even get palpitation when your heart is not doing anything funny, but it just feels like your heart's doing something funny.

So, for example, if someone comes and scares you, you know, from behind your heart will beat really hard and really fast and that would be a palpitation.

But at that time your heart's not doing anything odd. It's just responding to all the adrenaline that's suddenly been produced in your body. Then you have other heart rhythm disturbances, which may manifest as palpitation, and the commonest by far are ectopic heartbeats. Where what tends to happen there is that your heart will beat and then it relaxes for a certain amount of time.

When it relaxes for a certain, let's say it relaxes for a second and then it beats, so it'll fill up with a seconds worth of blood whilst it's relaxing, and then it will contract and push out that seconds worth of blood. Then it will start relaxing. Now if before it reaches that second of relaxation, let's say after half a second, an extra beat comes in from somewhere.

Then this time. The heart is only pumped out half a seconds worth of blood because the extra beat came in after half a second so it only had half a second. So that will feel like a missed beat. Then to compensate, the normal beat comes in later after one and a half seconds, and now the heart has had to fill up with one and a half seconds worth of blood, which it pumps out, and that then feels like a big thud.

So that's traditionally what ectopics feel like.

They feel like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.

Paul Swindell: [00:08:35] Yeah.

I've definitely had those.

You said several times that they're not considered dangerous, why is that? Because it sounds like it could be a problem or could it not lead into a, further arrhythmia?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:08:47] Well, we, the reason they're not dangerous usually is because they're non-sustained ectopics by definition, tend to be followed by normal beats.

Paul Swindell: [00:08:59] So what you just get them in isolation.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:09:02] Yeah, definitely. So you'll get that extra beat. And then after a little while you get that big thud, which is the normal beat.

So, because the heart is a pump and when you have an ectopic, any heart rhythm disturbance, means one thing and one thing only. It means that the heart is a pump is not as as efficient. Okay?

So, the efficiency of the heart is compromised during that heart rhythm disturbance.

So, if you've got something which is only going on for a second, followed by normal beats, the inefficiency is non-sustained inefficiency.

It's followed by normal beats, the heart becomes efficient again.

Sustained heart rhythm disturbances are where you get one abnormal beat, followed by another abnormal beat, followed by another abnormal beat for, let's say, you know, 10 minutes there, you've got 10 minutes worth of inefficiency.

So that's why ectopics in general are not dangerous because they represent a non-sustained heart rhythm disturbance as opposed to things like atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, which are sustained.

Paul Swindell: [00:10:03] I see.

So are ectopics a symptom of an underlying problem, whether that be in the heart muscle or elsewhere in the body?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:10:11] Sure. I mean, I think the first thing to say is that ectopics happen.

So if you take a hundred people off the street and do a 24 hour monitor on them, you will find that on their monitor, 60 out of the hundred, will have some ectopics in a 24 hour period. So they're very, very common. These are people who don't feel a thing.

They're just getting about their own, their lives. Normally they have no symptoms, but if you do a monitor, you'll see some ectopics. So they occur normally. It is true to say that if you have a diseased heart, if you have a structural problem with your heart, let's say you have a cardiomyopathy, let's say you have scar in your heart.

Let's say you have weaker heart, then the heart is more likely to be more irritable and therefore you may get even more ectopics. Significantly more ectopics, and that is why the first thing we do when we have a person who is getting ectopics is to make sure that the heart is structurally normal. We do that by doing an ECG and doing an echocardiogram, a heart scan, and if those are fine, then we turn around and say, we think you have a structurally normal heart.

Therefore, your ectopics are not, a symptom of a diseased heart. The next question then is, if they're not a symptom of a diseased heart, what else could they be?

And the answer is that there was some interesting studies done, the where they took a bunch of people who suffered from health related anxiety and they strapped them to a monitor and they proceeded to make them more anxious.

And as these people got more anxious, they got more ectopics on their monitor. So yes, you know, it's interesting. For example, you mentioned that you know, after, after you were unwell, you got some missed beats. That can simply, of course, it could be due to the fact that if you had a cardiomyopathy or something like that, you may get ectopics as a result of that, but more likely because of the trauma and the stress and anxiety that this whole thing may have caused you.

Paul Swindell: [00:12:05] I see. I see. Yeah, that makes sense. Because, they have dissipated over time and, I've become more relaxed and chilled about what happened as it were.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:12:16] Yeah .

Paul Swindell: [00:12:17] Okay. So, can we look at the actual magnesium?

What is magnesium and why is it important to the body and the heart?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:12:25] Okay, so, magnesium is a essential mineral.

It's a mineral and an electrolyte. It's, I think the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. It's necessary for electrical activity in the heart and the brain. It's a cofactor in more than 300 reactions within the body.

The daily recommended daily allowances, 400 to 420 milligrams for men and 310 to 360 milligrams for women.

But our daily intake is far less than this, most people take between 240 and 370 milligrams at most, and therefore, 75% of the population in the Western world takes in less magnesium than is recommended.

Once we have ingested the magnesium, 30 to 40% is absorbed from our gut and our bowel and some is excreted through our kidneys, but then our kidneys try and reabsorb it when we're deficient.

The other thing to say about magnesium, which is really, really important, is that the blood tests we have for it or not very accurate, and they don't give a true reflection of how much to total body magnesium we have. And that is why a lot of people will come to me and say, well, I've had my magnesium levels checked.

They're okay and I say to them, well, it's still worth trying a magnesium supplement because you can't rely on the blood test. And we are magnesium deficient because we now take in less than we should.

This is because of modern farming methods, which just serve to deplete the magnesium in soil, processing of food depletes magnesium further, we absorb less of it from our stomach because, you know, a lot of patients, for example, are on proton pump inhibitors, for their stomach, and, that reduces acid production and acid is necessary for absorption of magnesium.

And so by far and away, the commonest medication that is prescribed these days are PPIs, Losec, Metrazole, that kind of stuff.

And, they reduce magnesium absorption.

Carbonated beverages, reduce the absorption of magnesium and can make the problem worse.

We're using up a lot more magnesium than we were.

So, things like sugar, a lot more sugar in our foods, and magnesium is required to break the sugar down.

So, we're using a lot more magnesium that way. Stress, sleep disturbance, we'll all get rid of magnesium from the body. And, things like coffee, tea will make us excrete more magnesium in our urine. So, there's loads of reasons why so many of us are deficient in magnesium.

Paul Swindell: [00:14:57] You mentioned about, the food that we eat and the farming methods, depleting the amount of magnesium in our food, but what, what foods should we be looking for?

Because obviously I'll guess food is the best way of getting magnesium into your body, rather than necessarily taking a supplement.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:15:14] I think greens are an important way to get magnesium.

Nuts are an important way to get magnesium in our body, you know, so almonds, spinach, cashew nuts, peanuts.

Trying to eat organically grown foods, whatever, you know, whether you can rely on what is organic or not is another matter, but avoiding processed foods and eating as far as you're aware, organically grown foods from local growers is a good way to get the magnesium into the body, but to my mind, most people benefit from taking a supplement as well.

Paul Swindell: [00:15:46] You mentioned that a blood test is not a good way of telling whether you are deficient is, is there any other way of telling if you're deficient?

Are there any obvious signs?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:15:57] You know, the reality is, it's one of those deficiencies, which isn't reflected in outwardly major, major issues. But, there are some tests that are more accurate, so you can measure something called the red cell magnesium content, but very few places offer that test.

So most places they just do a blood test, and if you go to, you know, local doctors, et cetera, they'll just do the blood test for magnesium, which has no good at all.

I think it's one of those things where the symptoms of a deficiency of very kind of nonspecific, and this is only once you start taking a supplement, if you suddenly find out, gosh, you know, I'm feeling calmer and I'm sleeping better, and a lot of people will say that they get cramps in their legs at night and that they take a magnesium supplement, the cramps go away.

Paul Swindell: [00:16:44] What confused me when I was looking is that there are so many different types of magnesium. are you able to run through sort of some of the main types and the ones that perhaps, heart patients should be looking for in particular?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:16:57] Yeah, there were a lot of different preparations. The common preparation you will come across as something called magnesium oxide and magnesium oxide is is not a good preparation to take because the bioavailability is only 4%.

So, what you take in you only absorb about 4% of what you're taking in, and it has a propensity to cause a loose stomach.

And so, one of the side effects of taking magnesium is loose stool.

So, magnesium oxide is one that I recommend against taking, but there are other preparations like magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium taurate. Any other form of magnesium is fine. You can, you don't actually have to take it orally.

You can take it topically, so you can have oil and rub oil into your skin, and it can be absorbed trans dermally as well.

In my experience, I recommend magnesium citrate or magnesium taurate as a really good supplement for heart palpitations.

Paul Swindell: [00:17:53] Is there any price difference in those products or those types of magnesium?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:17:58] The way it started with me was a lot of people came to me and said, well, can you recommend a preparation?

And the preparation that was studied in the study from Brazil is no longer in production. So, no one seems to be producing that, particular, preparation. So, I decided to recommend magnesium taurate, and a lot of people came back to me and said, you know. That magnesium taurate it's done me a lot of good, I feel better. So, I said, look, that's the one to go for.

Unfortunately, then I discovered that the, company that was making it to raise their prices greatly, and I started recommending magnesium citrate. In the UK we have a health food store called Holland and Barrett, and you can buy magnesium citrate and it's about five or six pounds, something like that.

So, it's not too expensive at all. And, and that seems to work as well as any other preparation.

Paul Swindell: [00:18:48] But what form would that come in, is that a tablet or a powder?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:18:52] I think it's a, I think it's a capsule.

Paul Swindell: [00:18:55] And for people who don't like taking tablets or have got a handful of tablets to take anyway, do you know, are there any other ways to ingest?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:19:03] You can buy magnesium aspartet sachets so that you can mix them in water. And that�s a reasonable way to do it. You can open the capsules and put the powder in and mix it with water and that's another way to do it. Or topical magnesium, magnesium oil.

Paul Swindell: [00:19:21] And what sort of dosage should people will be taking of this? Would it be one size fits all or does it depend on your symptoms?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:19:30] I generally say start with the recommended dose on the tin.

You know, so the preparation you buy, take the recommended dose because we know that at that dose that's going to be safe.

Now, the reality is with magnesium, you know, it has a, you can take a higher doses and not come to harm as opposed to something like potassium, for example.

With potassium, potassium has a very narrow, kind of normal range in the body.

If you go very high, it can be dangerous.

If you go low, it can be very dangerous.

But magnesium has a much wider scope.

So, I normally start off by magnesium citrate, 200 milligrams daily. Magnesium taurate 125 milligrams twice a day.

But any of the preparations, if you take the recommended dose on the box, then that's great place to start.

Paul Swindell: [00:20:23] You mentioned with magnesium oxide that you could get loose stools. Are there any other sort of side effects that you might get from some of the other types of magnesium?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:20:33] I haven't come across any, is the truth. It is just the loose stool that I've come across. Obviously, people who have kidney damage or you know, in those people, you want to be a little bit more careful because they're not treating as well as they should.

But it is mainly the loose stools that have come across as a problem. Having said that, most people tolerate the other forms of magnesium really well. Magnesium glycinate is probably the easiest on the stomach.

Paul Swindell: [00:21:00] As I mentioned earlier, people are probably taking a handful of medications already if they've had a serious heart issue, are there any contra-indictions that it shouldn't be taken with any of these tablets. And should they be going to their, GP or cardiologist before starting on something like this?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:21:21] It's always a good idea for everyone , to get the consent of their, healthcare provider before starting anything. Because everyone's different. And, you know, when I sort of make a recommendation, it's impossible to know the specifics for every person who may be thinking about it.

So, I would always say, you know, there's no harm in trying it. But just make sure that your doctor's happy with you trying it. I have not really found a major contraindication. My patients take all sorts of medications and they can take a magnesium supplement. And I've not really come across anyone, who has suffered, adversely as a result of taking the magnesium.

Some people worry that it has a slight, a very tiny anticoagulant effect. And if you're taking anticoagulants, people worry about that. But again, a lot of my patients do, and they've not come to any harm.

But again, as you know, I would always reiterate that before taking any kind of supplements, make sure your doctor is happy with you doing so.

Paul Swindell: [00:22:19] So have you got anything else to sort of, to sum up

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:22:22] Yeah, I think so.

I think the reason I recommend magnesium is for quality of life.

I don't know whether, you know, I don't recommend it because I think, Oh, this will make you live longer, I don't know.

There is no evidence, we don't know, but, I think that try and get out and seeing if your quality of life improves in some way.

And if it does, then that is what you were taking it for.

And if it doesn't, then maybe it's not for you.

But you know as again, you know, if, if for example, you don't sleep well and you start taking a magnesium supplement and you sleep better, well that just is good for you.

It improves your quality of life, it makes you a healthier person.

If you're getting ectopic beats and you take some magnesium supplements and the ectopics get less, well, that's just improved your quality of life.

So, in that sense, I think it's worth trying, and if you feel better, then great.

You know, the problem is very few people are going to go out and say, oh, take magnesium. You know, we are sort of a largely pharma driven industry now.

And, so it is all the, kind of the newest and most expensive medications, and the research and the kind of evidence base that we all crave for, will never, be accumulated for things like magnesium because there's no money.

Paul Swindell: [00:23:41] Okay, my final question would be, if someone starts taking it, how soon would they notice any effect if there is going to be some for them?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:23:50] Usually, you know, within a week or two weeks, a lot of people come back and say, look, that's worked. I definitely think that's helped. So one to two weeks.

Paul Swindell: [00:24:00] And what's the sort of maximum time they should take it for? And if they haven't seen any, effect, and then?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:24:07] Four weeks,

Paul Swindell: [00:24:09] Four weeks.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:24:10] If you've not noticed a benefit in four weeks, and I don't think it's working for you then.

Paul Swindell: [00:24:16] Okay.

That's an absolutely brilliant session on magnesium Dr Gupta, thank you for that. And I'll speak to you next time.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: [00:24:24] Thank you.

If you enjoyed this podcast please do leave a positive review on Apple or other podcast providers as it helps us to spread the word.

Presented and edited by Paul Swindell.

Recorded March 2020. 

The ultimate survivor with Jonathan Jenkyn

Jonathan Jenkyn tell his story on episode 45 of the Life After Cardiac Arrest podcast

In episode #45, Paul talks with the very remarkable Jonathan Jenkyn who has not only survived a sudden cardiac arrest but also a potentially fatal kidney condition and he has recently beaten an aggressive form of cancer.

Jonathan maybe extremely unlucky in having had the Grim Reaper have 3 attempts at him, and although he defeated this wiley foe he did not escape entirely unscathed from the experiences.

Dad diagnoses himself with cancer while helping daughter revise ...

However, he is wiser and more upbeat than many and has a positive outlook and attitude to life that many of us would do well to take note of. He takes us through both his cancer and cardiac arrest experiences, his running, his loss of ability to play the guitar, the benefits of giving back and he imparts some very interesting information about ICD’s along the way.

He also compares the two experiences and the impact that they have had on him and his family.

An amazing story of survival, told in an eloquent and engaging way from someone who has earned the right to the accolade of “the ultimate survivor.”

An essential listen to survivors of all types and beyond!

P.S. A few days after recording this episode Jonathan fulfilled one of his bucket list by recording a song with his daughter and he released it on Youtube, it’s rather good and will inspire all those who may have lost some musical ability after an event like an SCA.

Available to listen on the link below or Spotify, Apple , Google, YouTube and your favourite podcast player.

If you enjoyed this podcast please do leave a positive review on Apple or other podcast providers as it helps us to spread the word.

Presented and edited by Paul Swindell.

Recorded May 2020. 

Happy 5th Birthday Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK

The 1st May 2020 marks the 5th anniversary of the creation of Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK and in episode #041 Paul takes us through the first 5 years if the group.

Paul talks about the formation and characteristics of the group and thanks some of the key players along the way.

Available to listen on the link below or Spotify, Apple , Google, YouTube and your favourite podcast player.

#041 Happy Birthday SCA UK

Paul Swindell: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of the life after cardiac arrest podcast with me, your host Paul Swindell.

If all goes well, this episode should be published on the 1st of May, 2020 which is the fifth birthday of Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK.

Although my memory can be a little dodgy at times. I can remember the creation of it quite well. I say quite well, but I actually had clear in my mind that it was a Sunday evening when I clicked the button to create the Facebook group.

But I just did a look up and it was actually a Friday!

So anyway.

I remember that we've had a meeting a couple of months beforehand in the pub in London, the Mulberry Bush on the South Bank, and basically it was a gathering of lost souls really, and it was such a great meeting that we continued emailing and communicating via the Inspire forum.

But personally, I found the process a little slow and, perhaps needed something more immediate.

So, although I wasn't a big Facebook user at the time, I knew of its benefits over traditional forum such that, you know, many people knew of it and used it and already had it installed and it was available on all sorts of platforms. Didn't matter if you had an iPhone or an Android or a tablet.

And it worked on it, on your PCs and Macs as well.

And it was it was importantly for me anyway; it was quick and easy to set up and manage. And also, for the people who are actually, contributing, it was quicker to get response to their posts. Because when you're on a sort of a traditional forum, it can quite often be maybe a day or two before you get any sort of response.

I'm not sure if that's just the nature of the technology or the number of users that are on Facebook, because I know it's got a colossal following. But anyway, it tended to have groups that have more of a community feel and more of a buzz.

So, you know, as I say, on that evening, I decided to click the button to create a group and at that time I didn't know what I was doing or what I was going to be creating and I, and I called it, UK, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivors and Friends.

And the friend�s part of the name was, was very important because we knew it wasn't just the survivors that were going through these trials and tribulations of survivorship.

The first year or so, there was a, you know, it was a fairly slow growth of the of the group. You know, most of the original group had been in that pub joined. Gareth, Sue, Joanna, Michelle, David, Richard, Dawn, Trudy, Ian and Gwyn.

But it slowly grew from that few dozen or so, and there's now well over 1500, which is pretty impressive, I think.

It's probably worth noting we have to decline probably just as many requests as we allow to join, and this is to keep the group focused to its target audience. I.E. Those in the UK and those who have had a cardiac arrest, or I've been affected directly by one.

Be that the survivor or the partner or a lay rescuer.

And it's also to keep out trolls and spammers, which are prevalent on Facebook, unfortunately.

And I think we do that quite well. As the group, has had very few, what I might call flashpoints in that time. The community is, is pretty much on message most of the time.

So, I'd just like to actually say thanks to all the moderators throughout the five years, because they've kept the group flowing and it's not always easy continually adding people and monitoring out and checking that we're getting the right people into the group.

So big thanks to you guys.

Also, just like to say a big thanks to someone who's been a, big supporter of the group as well.

And that's Dr Keeble.

And I think one of the pivotal moments in the group, sort of a life is probably just after a year or so, the group had been going, but a couple of hundred members at that time and someone posted in to the group. A video entitled life after cardiac arrest.

So, you wondered where I got the name for this podcast?

I, well, it was a trigger for me to actually get to meet Dr Keeble. And as I mentioned, it has been a great asset to the group. I mean, if you've listened to my episode at the beginning of the series, you'll know all about how I got to meet him and why I got to meet him. So, I won't go into that now.

But he, over the years, he's really given freely of his time and his expertise and help to say in so many ways he's been on the podcast. He's, he's done webinars. He's helped us organize it. Then, he�s raised funds so that we can put these events on and he's answered so many questions that people have had.

So, I'm really grateful to you, Dr Keeble, and hopefully we repaid it a little bit with helping him gain and an NHS hospital hero award so about 18 months ago, maybe a little bit longer. So, hopefully that's resting nicely on these mantal piece.

My journey has sort of been intertwined with his or him joining the group because I've been lucky enough to attend quite a few conferences with him and being able to present alongside him.

And I must admit it was quite daunting and scary at first, but the feedback that we and I received showed me that it was something that had to be done.

And so, my nerves had to be put aside.

And I would say talking about yourself especially when it's like a traumatic event, like an SCA it's not actually that easy and it can be a, I used to say it's a little bit like a word minefield in that there'll be various trigger words which make you get quite upset and emotional standing in front of many people, which can be quite uncomfortable at times.

But I would say to anyone, who, who has that opportunity to do something like this, talk to maybe a community group or some CFRs or, or anyone really on this subject and their story.

I would say, go and overcome your fears and go and do it, because you can send a very powerful message. It may feel uncomfortable at the time, but the ripple effect of your message could go on to save many other people's lives. And also, selfishly, it can help you overcome your own trauma and help you build in your own right.

So, as I mentioned at the beginning, creating this group was in some ways a little bit of a punt. I knew after that first meeting that the community or meeting other people was, was key. As you know, as I and my wife we both felt lonely and abandoned, and as our event entitled "#Not Alone" last year showed that it's a common theme for many, many survivors.

And you know, you people go looking for information because we're not that prevalent in society. You know, we all know the survival rate is very low. it's still less than 10% and so to speak to people and get people to come together helps to normalize and understand that situation.

And I think we've managed to do that both online and offline now with the, the meetings and the resources that we've got online.

And it's for the survivors and partners and lifesavers in general.

And you've got to remember that, you know, all that our group is. There's over 1500 people now. 80% of those are survivors, but we also have a proportion, which is, partners and lifesavers.

As I say, we all know that Facebook can be both good and bad and in the past few years, we've seen some of the ways that it can be used in a bad way, and lots of people are scared about it. But I think on the whole it has been very good for those who've been affected by a sudden cardiac arrest, even if you're not actually in the group. I think some of that, the ripple effects of what's come out of the group is beginning to show benefits.

And it's also probably worth mentioning that, in the last. Past year or two, we've set up a, an offshoot group called Chain of Survival UK. If you've listened to one of my previous episodes with Dr Katey Dainty, it's a group for partners and lay rescuers, those who've been involved in the chain of survival because we find that. That experience is, is very traumatic, and sometimes it's better for the those people who have gone through that to be able to talk about their experience outside of the ear shot of survivors.

I guess in an unconscious way, the Facebook group has carried on the sauce of the first meetup and that it's friendly, welcoming, and supportive, and. Not just friends and people, you know, but to essentially total strangers. And I know it's only a small thing, but the, the welcome message that everyone receives kind of sums that up.

I mean, it's like a virtual arm around someone. A welcome in. We know what you're going through, you know, get comfy and feel safe in sharing your troubles.

We understand.

We get it, and I'm always impressed by the number of people who take the time to like or add a comment welcoming in these total strangers.

It's a sign of a camaraderie and the empathy you'll find with many of our members. We encourage new members to share their story in a new post, to not only get away from the, a failing of Facebook, but because it might be the first time that they've had the chance to do so, and we know that it can be beneficial to actually tell your story.

And I know it's a, I've mentioned this before in the podcast about the benefits of writing about a trauma, and there is a, an actual practice called expressive writing, which has got a page on our website about that. If you want to know more about that to help you get over a trauma.

As well as all the sort of the Facebook group with the posts and the stories and what have you, that we have through that, we obviously have the face to face meet ups, which is I guess where it all started and it can be, I think some people underestimate the power of actually getting to meet another survivor or lifesaver, someone who's given the CPR, it's a very powerful experience and it can be a real eye opener too. Yeah, just have the opportunity to talk with someone or listen to someone who, who gets it, who's been there, who's he's gone through those same emotions, perhaps a little further down the road of recovery. It's a real, it's a real shot in the arm as it were.

I mean, I know that the original meetup in 2015 was a game changer for me and my wife has, you know, as I mentioned earlier. I don't think I've met any other survivors. Oh no, I'd just met Richard, but that was prior to the actual meetup cause it was part of it. I didn't really know anyone else who had gone through this and, you know, just going and talking with other people was such a weight off the shoulders basically.

You know it, and also it doesn't have to be big events like some of the ones that we've done, like the Guinness World Record or Not Alone event, just the small cozy meetups in the in a cafe or something like that is perfectly acceptable and it's a great experience.

Talking of the Guinness world record Ben's initiative far for a jokey conversation, got the ball rolling on to something that turned out to be quite amazing. So, thanks Ben.

I think it is a bit of a shame though, that the, day wasn't featured a little bit more in the, in the media and press and, and didn't make it into the official Guinness World Record book because.

When you think about it, the survival of those 127 people is a real testament to the chain of survival and to the power of the medical world and NHS.

So, an opportunity missed there from Guinness World Records. Maybe we can do it again with more people and get them involved in a bigger way.

Who knows?

Although that didn't get published, one thing that did get published is our leaflet, and this was thanks to backing from SADS UK, that's Ann and John Jolly and help from one of our members Dawn, and it was a leaflet that was to be put in hospitals and other facilities where sudden cardiac arrest patients and patient families might be found and just gave a basic overview of what an SC, S C A is the impact it has and what we as a group can, can do for patients and their families.

Essentially, it was just a signpost and we've had over 10,000 of these distributed and if you want some please contact sites or go to our website page, which is and you know, we just try and get those out to the places where people will see 'em and can come and join the group and get the benefits of being, being in a group of people who know what they're going through, can answer many of their questions, can point them in direction of resources such as our website, and that's a podcast and other things.

It's also worth mentioning that SADS UK also offer free counseling with a member of the British association for counseling and psychotherapy because.

We're just a Facebook group, we can help people go through some of their recovery process, but we�re not medical people and maybe there will be times when people need professional help. Obviously, you should go through your doctor first but sometimes the waiting list to get mental health assistance can be a little bit long at times. And I suspect post cave at COVID 19, they're going to be even longer.

So, that free counseling could be invaluable.

So, thanks to SADS for the support in that, the leaflet and also other support throughout the years.

I touched on it before that we've, we've got a website, and as, as time has gone on, there have been more and more amazing stories of survival posted in the group and more and more of have gained lessons and pointed to resources.

So, and all of these things help ease the pain of what people are going through and because our Facebook group is closed and private, only those people in the group can actually see the contents of those posts.

So, I started a website basically to share out to a wider audience and to maybe let anyone interested know what sort of things that survivors and their families were going through.

So, I created this website to collate the information that was specific to us and to provide also an outlet for members to share their stories.

It's worth noting at this time that there was probably very little information for sudden cardiac arrest survivors out there and it tended to come from a very medical perspective, or maybe was sponsored by a manufacturer of medical equipment.

So, it tended to have occasionally it would have a patient story, but it would be the story about the event.

Not really anything afterwards, not showing you it would all be very rosy and not necessarily showing you the walks and the trials and tribulations that people go through and have to overcome.

So, our website aims to give it the patient perspective, and I think that. I think it does that quite well, but we do need contributions continually coming in, albeit stories for the blog or just things that can genuinely help people.

So, if you want to, contribute, absolutely. Please do. I'd love to receive your articles and anything else that's potentially helpful so you can submit that via email at info at or if you go to the

I mentioned that we had published, a leaflet, and after a couple of years of running of the website, I saw that we began to collate quite a good collection of stories and articles that I thought maybe they're worth publishing in their own right.

And it was something I thought about and toyed around for quite a while.

So, I'd heard that publishing a book can be quite an arduous process. But after the investigation on notice that Amazon has made it relatively straightforward, although as I found that at a little time consuming. So, if you want to give it a go. Go ahead but be prepared for the black hole that all your time disappears into.

But at the end of 2017, I'd managed to put everything together and I managed to put a whole number of our popular articles into one volume, and I got Dr Keeble to do a forward for it. And I published, any book in early 2018 and it turned out to be, quite popular. And I was in some ways quite surprised cause all those articles were already out there.

But the other thing that surprised me was the call for a paperback, so I put my skills back on my publishing and editing skills back home.

And this took a long time actually didn't realize just how long it would take, but we managed to get another version, a paperback version out later in the year.

And whilst it's not a number one bestseller, you won't see it in your Time's top list, it has sold steadily and is actually just outside the top half million sellers on Amazon. And although that doesn't sound impressive, if you consider that there are over 32 million books on Amazon, I don't think it's actually too bad.

And, and in one of the categories that it's in is actually in the top 800 and has received over twenty 5-star reviews, which is pretty decent, I think. So, if you've read the book or are on Amazon and like to help. The book and help us, please go and leave a review on there, or just give it five stars. would love that.

And it's sold far and wide in mostly English-speaking countries but maybe we need some translated versions?

Got any volunteers?

Or you can speak English and maybe another language is their first language. I would love to be able to publish it in, I dunno, Spanish, French, German, any of the European languages or even further afield, maybe a Mandarin or something like that exotic.

But certainly, I'd appreciate it if anyone wants to help out.

And it's also worth pointing out, we just released, just over a month ago, another volume, and that has, many new authors and there's been, a real buzz about that as well.

So that's great.

And it's also great for anyone who just submits an article for the website and if it's deemed popular by our audience and getting it published can be a real buzz for you in a sort of a, a nice little thing.

Because I imagine, you know, everyone says, or there's a saying that. Everyone's got a booking them, but actually getting a book out is quite a difficult thing.

Maybe this will be the first step.

Maybe it'd be the, the little bit of encouragement that you need to get that pen on paper and write your whole story.

And also, just to say thanks to a Professor, Barbara Wilson and Professor Douglas Chamberlain, who of two eminent figures that I've had on the podcast and have helped us previous enterprises we've done that. They've provided some very nice quotes for the latest version of the book.

I just also like to talk about the podcast for a moment. It was a cane. It was something that I thought about for quite a while. That fear lack of know-how and lack of confidence, I guess, stopped me doing it.

And eventually, again, I took some advice about it, how to get some help and how, how to get going with it. And I think it's surprising actually, the number of helpful people that there are on things like Facebook. There are communities and groups everywhere for every single thing that you can possibly think of.

And I put out the call for help as I said, and I received Quite a few offers of help and to help produce it and edit it. And I'd just like to say thanks to Matt Nielsen, who's edited many of these episodes, so thanks to him. I'm quite proud of what I've managed to do, from nothing.

I was quite nervous in the early days. Hopefully it sounds a little bit more professional than it did in the first couple of episodes, I quite enjoyed doing them and talking to people. And I'm quite proud of what I've done so far. So, and I've received quite a bit of positive feedback. And again, if you'd like to, to help the podcast, get out to more people and get our stories and cause a little bit well more known. Please leave some feedback on, I think it's Apple tends to be the number one spot where people can leave feedback, give it a review or just the five stars. But if you don't have an Apple, I think you can still do it on their website and, but there are some other places that you can leave podcast review, so I'll really appreciate it if you could do that.

I'd just like to also say I'm really grateful to those who give up their time to speak with me on this podcast. Both the experts and you give them. Over their time freely, answer a lot of questions and give people a little more in-depth knowledge and background as to what they're going through and how to get over it.

But also, to the people who tell a very personal and often traumatic story. I know it, it can't be easy sitting here letting other people hear all of that. But I really do appreciate your time and your honesty.

And I just also like to reiterate, my particular thanks to Dr Keeble who's been very supportive of this and appeared quite a few times.

So, thanks again, Tom.

So, I'd just like to sort of round up really with some of the things that I've learnt running a Facebook group.

Our cohort, we're quite a heterogeneous lot, I, there's not a common disease with common symptoms that links us all together.

We've all had different starting points.

Different causes.

Different events.

Different recoveries and different outcomes.

Some people can bounce back almost immediately, but others can take many months or years, but we all generally mishmashed together quite well and that applies to partners and lay rescuers as well as the survivors.

We've all got our, our stories to tell as it were, and we can all learn from each other.

There was one thing I sort of came up with the end of last year at the Not Alone event when I was talking there, I wanted to impart a couple of the things that I've learned in, in a sort of an acronym cause they're quite often easy to remember.

My acronym was AAAH.

First A was Acknowledge the trauma that you, your body and your loved ones have gone through because it is a lot, it's a lot to take in at the time. It's a lot to deal with and you know, just be kind with yourself, just acknowledge what has happened.

You know, I do see some people who are almost in a state of denial and maybe it comes back and hit some in the face a couple of years later.

Second Ais Accept where you are and what has happened. As I say, don't deny it, understand it, learn about it.

Accept what has happened and work out a plan for moving forward.

And the third A is adapt to your new situation you know, it takes time for the body and the mind to heal, and they're two separate processes. I think some people bounce back and they're back running within a couple of weeks, or they're back at work, but the psychological aspect shouldn't be underestimated.

It can take a long time for people to take in, understand, process everything that's been gone through, and these things don't change overnight.

You know, you got to keep going and that, and as Winston Churchill once said, �If you're going through hell, keep going."

So, you know, keep that in mind.

If you, if you're a member of the group, you're, you'll see, and I've seen over the five years that there are so many people come in who aren't in a desperate situation when they start, that then go on, you know.

And make a good recovery and they're, they're happy person again, takes a while to find what that new normal, that new happy person, is going to be, quite often it's different.

And finally, the H of the AAAH is get Help.

It's hard to do this on your own.

Recover on your own.

Use the resources we provide.

Use it as a sounding board, bounce your fears and tribulations in the group, and when you're able to contribute, please do so. Whether that through a blog or just by liking or commenting on other people's posts, it's a real win-win situation.

And finally, I'd say, we, what I've learned is, you know, we've been given a second chance, so let's use it. Try and do things. Get yourself out of your comfort zone. I know I've done that many a time now but be open and let things happen.

And finally, I'd just like to talk a little bit about the future.

The group probably wouldn't have existed had I continued to receive the excellent level of care that I had gotten in hospital. Post-discharge was left a little wanting and unfortunate. I think this is quite a common theme amongst many who go through a cardiac arrest.

I think, and I hope it is improving and I think some of the things we've been doing have been started to get noticed by some of the organizations that can make a real difference to those affected by a sudden car that there.

And by that, I mean the Resus Council, the British Heart Foundation and the Public Health England part of NHS. It'd be good to see the interest and noises made by them materialize into real benefits for us and perhaps even a specific care pathway because I've really feel that is lacking at the moment.

I just also like to say thanks to those who supported my recent call for funds. It was much appreciated. We're not a charity. Maybe we should be, but at the moment, we don't have any regular income, but we do have costs associated with the resources and events we put on.

And these can run into many thousands of pounds.

So, if we are to continue, we do need to ensure the coffers are kept loaded.

And if you can help by making a donation to something that have a small or large, or even just by buying something from our shop, it will be very much appreciated.

And you can do that at


And finally, just to say thanks to everyone who's made this group what it is. I for one, would not be where I am without it.

So, thank you.

This concludes this episode of the life After Cardiac Arrest podcast, and I'd love to know what you think. And you can do that via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the website, and you can find this by Googling Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK or the Life after cardiac arrest podcast.

If you have found value in this or other episodes, please help spread the word by leaving a review on your podcast provider such as Apple or wherever is convenient. And don't forget, if you want to know more about life after cardiac arrest, check out our books, life after cardiac arrest on Amazon. Make sure you click subscribe.

And I'll speak to you next time.

If you enjoyed this podcast please do leave a positive review on Apple or other podcast providers as it helps us to spread the word.

Presented and edited by Paul Swindell.

Recorded May 2020.