Before I dive into the meat of this post, I want to apologize for being so quiet lately. My last “personal” post was in March when I celebrated my two-year anniversary of being afib-free. The reason for my absence is I’ve been doing awesome.
I haven’t had a single episode of afib since my March 2015 ablation. Aside from my occasional battles with PVCs and PACs, my heart has been steady eddy. Even my PVCs and PACs have reduced in their frequency and severity. In short, life has been great!
Rest assured I am still very much engaged with this blog. I approve and reply to comments almost on a daily basis and I answer every email I get that comes across my inbox – and there a lot of them. Thank you for your emails, by the way. It brings me great pleasure to help people out so keep them coming.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know I do an EXA test and a RBC magnesium test every year. I’ve been working on increasing my magnesium levels for the past couple years. Maintaining proper magnesium levels is crucial to us afibbers. Most people with atrial fibrillation have magnesium deficiencies so increasing your levels can help manage the condition.
I had my EXA test and RBC test completed on May 18, 2017. I’ve been meaning to get this post up for over a month now but it took a while to get my EXA test results back. Let’s dive into these tests and see what’s up!
EXA Test Results – May 18, 2017
I was pleasantly surprised at my results. I was actually thrilled at the results! The EXA test reference range for normal magnesium levels is 34.0 – 42.0.
I was at…drop roll, please…37.4! Here is a copy of my actual EXA test results:
(click on the images to see the full-size reports)
Why was I so happy? Since March 2015, my magnesium levels have slowly increased. It has taken a lot of effort (and money) but it has paid off. Here are my EXA Test results for the past three years:
In addition to being surprised over my magnesium levels, I found it interesting that my potassium levels continue to be on the lower end of normal. Last year my potassium was at 137.8 and this year when I took the test it was at 128.3. The normal reference range is 80.0 – 240.0. I’d like to see it closer to 160 or more.
Monitoring potassium can be just as important as magnesium for people with afib. In fact for some afibbers, potassium may be more important. Too much or too little potassium can trigger afib, PVCs, or PACs. I’ve been emailing with a fellow afibber who claims he has completely managed his afib just by maintaining proper potassium levels. He doesn’t take any magnesium. All he focuses on is potassium.
It’s important to note that unlike magnesium, your potassium levels fluctuate greatly throughout the day. You can affect your potassium levels immediately just by eating potassium rich foods or taking a potassium supplement. Magnesium levels, on the other hand, are very difficult to budge. It can take months of consistent magnesium intake to move the numbers.
Because you have to do an overnight fast when you take the EXA test, it’s very possible my potassium levels were low simply because I hadn’t consumed any potassium prior to taking the test. On a normal day, it’s possible my potassium levels are exactly where they need to be. To get a true test of your potassium levels you’d have to test for it a couple times per day and then average the numbers.
The Price of the EXA Test – May 18, 2017
The price for the EXA test continues to baffle me. They don’t mention pricing anywhere on their site and if you email them for a price they don’t respond. I paid $684 for the EXA test in 2015 and then $295 in 2016. Why such a huge difference? I have no idea.
Fortunately this year the price for the EXA test was the same as last year – $295. I also had to pay the doctor that administered the test 15 minutes of his time, which was $38.25. And since IntraCellular Diagnostics, Inc. (the company behind EXA) won’t send you the results directly, I had to pay another 15 minutes of my doctor’s time for him to go over the results with me.
All told, I paid $371.50 for the EXA test this year which is about what I paid in 2016.
RBC Magnesium Test Results – May 18, 2017
I’m fortunate because the independent lab that does the RBC magnesium tests is only about six blocks down from my naturopathic doctor’s office. This works great as I can kill two birds with one stone.
Like the EXA test, the RBC test indicated my magnesium levels were up from last year! The RBC normal reference range for magnesium is 4.2 – 6.8 mg/dL. This year I was at 5.3. Here is a copy of the results:
(click on the images to see the full-size reports)
You might be thinking, “Of course it’s up. If it’s up on the EXA test it should be up on the RBC too.” Well, that’s what I thought too but in 2015 and 2016 that wasn’t the case at all as you’ll see in a moment.
Here are my RBC magnesium test results for the past three years:
Do you notice anything when you compare the RBC results to the EXA results? With the exception of this year, they have never correlated. In 2015 the RBC indicated I was solidly in the normal range but the EXA test indicated I was well below normal. In 2016 the RBC indicated my magnesium were down from the previous year. By contrast, the EXA test that year indicated my levels had improved.
I still have no idea why the RBC and EXA test results don’t track together. You would think if you were up in one you’d be up in the other. I’m sure there is an easy explanation but nobody has been able to tell me why. If you can, please explain in the comments below!
The Price of the RBC Magnesium Test – May 18, 2017
The price of the RBC magnesium test is simple and straight forward. For the past three years it has always been $49. I always do it through www.requestatest.com.
Aside from the price of the test itself, there are no other fees so it’s just $49. I wish the EXA test was as cheap as the RBC!
How Did I Increase My Magnesium Levels?
As I mentioned previously in this post, increasing your magnesium levels in general is hard to do. It can be particularly difficult for those of us with afib as we tend to be magnesium wasters. It takes regular and consistent intake of a high quality magnesium supplement to increase your levels.
Some afibbers may never be able to increase their magnesium levels with supplements alone. My good friend and Editor of Afibbers.org was one of those people. No matter how much magnesium he took, he couldn’t get his magnesium levels to budge. He had to resort to regular IV magnesium treatments to get his numbers to move.
When I told him how low my magnesium levels were back in 2015, he suggested I try IV magnesium. I tried it but my IV magnesium experience didn’t go so well. Supplements were my only option. Fortunately, I found one that is the best magnesium supplement available and it’s called ReMag.
I have taken ReMag exclusively as my oral magnesium supplement since my first EXA test back in 2015. I have typically taken anywhere from 400-800mg of ReMag per day for the past three years. The reason for the wide dosage range is because I’m constantly tweaking and experimenting.
For the longest time I was taking around 800mg per day. I noticed during that time my PVCs and PACs were at their worst. It dawned on me that maybe I was taking too much ReMag so I backed it down to around 600mg per day. That seemed to help settle down the PVCs and PACs. I then tried 400mg per day and that seemed to work equally as well. Today I take a minimum of 400mg per day and often times as much as 600mg per day of ReMag.
When I had my first EXA test done in 2015 – the year my magnesium levels were at their lowest – I was taking around 600mg per day of a “high quality” magnesium glycinate supplement. Most doctors and “magnesium gurus” will tell you glycinate is the best form of magnesium because of its relative high absorption rate.
Well I’m here to tell you, ReMag blows any glycinate supplement out of the water. My test results speak for themselves! Only through consistent intake of ReMag was I able to increase my magnesium levels.
I told myself that after this year’s EXA and RBC tests I wasn’t going to do them again for at least a couple more years. However, I was so blown away at the progress I made in increasing my magnesium levels that I will probably do the tests again next year. Now I’m curious to see if I can maintain these levels and maybe improve them!
Another test I have been meaning to take care of is a vitamin D test. Vitamin D helps absorb magnesium. As a result, the more magnesium you take the more vitamin D you need to take. I’ve been taking anywhere from 2,000 – 4,000 units of vitamin D per day for the past couple years. I take 2,000 units per day during the summer and if I know I’m going to be out in the sun on a given day I won’t take it at all. In the winter months I crank it up to 4,000 units per day.
I haven’t taken a vitamin D test in well over a year now. The last time I tested my vitamin D I was in a very healthy range so I assume it’s still pretty good since I haven’t changed my vitamin D intake all that much. Still, though, I’m going to have the test done just to confirm.
Having a vitamin D test done every year along with the EXA and RBC tests would be interesting. I might discover that maintaining a certain vitamin D level helps to maintain or increase my magnesium levels. I just think it would be another interesting metric to track.
Other than that, I have no other plans as it pertains to my afib or my heart. I’m just trying to enjoy the NSR that God has blessed me with and make the most of each and every day I’m given without the burden of atrial fibrillation. If anything changes with the status of my afib, you’ll be the first to know. Otherwise, I’m going to enjoy the rest of summer. I hope you do too!
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Have you had an Exa test done since 2017? Also, do you know if they would allow a dentist to administer this test?
I have not had an EXA test done since 2017. I would do them yearly if I had someone closer to my home to administer it. The only doctor I know that does it in the entire metro area is a good 35 minutes away from me in a very busy and congested city. It’s just too much of a hassle to do anymore. It’s such a simple test too that it really should be a “take at home test.” All you do is scrape the inside of your mouth with this plastic scraper thing and then wipe it on a piece of paper and send it in. It’s ridiculous that EXA doesn’t offer it as a home test.
As I understand it, the EXA test results are taking intracellular magnesium levels in the body tissues — of the tongue or intra-muscle or whatever — while the RBC is taking intracellular magnesium levels within the blood, which cells “turn over” much more frequently and are therefore “younger,” so to speak.
So 2015 would make sense for lower EXA results and higher RBC results — you’re flooding your system with the daily mag, but it’s going to take awhile to be reflected in the tongue cells — or, as they used to do in the dinosaur era of the 20th century, in hair-sample minerals. Same concept. As your body’s cells “turned over” over the next 2 years, the 2 measures would converge.
That’s a brilliant explanation! I think you nailed it. Thanks for chiming in!
Hello Travis, I am so glad and grateful to have found this blog. I have wanted to conduct EXA tests or have it conducted for research purposes but the internet has limited information about this test. Your blog has answered the price question. My next two questions are, can an EXA test be carried out in Africa? If yes where? I am based in Zambia. Lastly how long does it take to get back the results?
Great questions but unfortunately I don’t have answers for you regarding testing in Africa. They do have a telephone number on their website. I would call them and ask. My test results came back in about two weeks.
Travis, wondering if you ever tested your adrenals? Going into month 5 with nearly zero PVCs and no afib since taking cortisol controlling supplements, and stopping nearly all supplements, including Mag. I was never taking the amount of Mag that most suggest for afib, usually less than 300mg, but adding it back in a few times has been insignificant. My guess is that all the supplements we do may be out of balance instead of controlling adrenals which may balance our system. Like you, Im cautiously optimistic, but Ive forgotten I even had this condition the last few months. I believe one supplement we all need to look into is DHEA.
Hey James! Great to hear from you. Thanks for the reminder. I haven’t taken the test yet. I keep dragging my feet. The darn kit is sitting right here on my desk too so there are no excuses!! I’ll have to get it done.
Just curious, what “cortisol controlling supplements” are you taking?
Travis, interesting answer I heard recently concerning adrenals. I was wondering what kept me in NSR for 2 plus years without addressing adrenals with supplements. However, Vit C, Mag, D, COq and a few others, offer adrenal support. Why they ceased working is something I’ll never know.
What I take now daytime is, DHEA 10mg/Stress complex caps (Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) Root Extract standardized to contain 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside 400 mg
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)(Sensoril® brand) Root and Leaf Extract 300 mg
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) Root Extract 300 mg
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) Leaf Extract standardized to contain 2.5% triterpenoic acids including ursolic and oleanolic acids 200 mg
MacaPure® brand Maca (Lepidium meyenii) 150 mg
Root Extract standardized to contain 0.6%) macaenes and macamides)
Evening, Stress Hormone stabilizer (ashwagandha L-theanine magnolia epimedium Withania somnifera) and Phosphatidylserine 150.
I take very little of any other supps now. DHEA is the cheapest, but least amount taken. That is one I’m cautious on dosage because it can have an adverse effect on afib if too much builds up.
I tested these one night, reversing the schedule. Sure enough, heart rate was strong and racing in the middle of the night. I may test again in a few months, but that was enough for now.
Wow. That’s an interesting list of supplements. I haven’t heard of any of them except DHEA. I’m glad everything is working for you! Thanks for sharing your list of supplements.
I’m new on my afib journey having just been diagnosed last week. The ekg read Atrial Flutter/Fib (so maybe a combo?). Had a 1, 2, 4 and 77 hour event (in that order), all of which self converted. That escalated quickly right?
Visiting w/ the Cardiologist tomorrow to get a plan together, but wanted to ask, if you were just getting on the path of afib would you want to jump right into the Abalation? I’m on a beta blocker for mild hypertension as well as an anti-coagulant. I’m going to try to stay off the rythem drugs for now, but we’ll see. Have been consuming as much info as I can on your site and afibbers.org.
In your experience/research, for Flutter/Fib can I hope for the same kind of resolution that you’ve had w/ Abalation? I’ve read that the sooner you do it the better, just wondering if it’s apples/oranges comparing LAF and Flutter/Fib.
Thanks for all you’ve done here. Great information for someone who’s just starting out w/ the dark clouds.
Sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. Given your age I wouldn’t hesitate to have an ablation. As you’ve pointed out, the sooner you get this taken care of the better. Plus, an ablation gives you the best shot of taking care of this without drugs!
Having said that, it’s imperative you find an experienced EP. If you decide to go down that route, please contact me directly via my website here. Just go to the Contact page found at the top of this page (far right menu option).
If you don’t do the ablation they will likely just put you on a rhythm control drug, which may or may not work – and may or may not produce side effects for you. Drugs are always a crap shoot, which is why I didn’t even entertain them. I went straight to an ablation once my afib spiraled out of control.
I wish you well!
Just wondering if you still use the Ease Magnesium spray? Starting to wonder if it is a waste of money. I don’t take the Remag but do supplement with a couple magnesiums.
I don’t use the Ease Magnesium spray as much simply because I get my daily doses of magnesium just fine with Remag alone. When I do occasionally use a spray, Ease is the only one I use! It’s a great product.
Hi Travis. After reading your blog I was wondering if your afib changed because of the ablation and did this procedure work?
I have had afib diagnosed the past two years but know I had it before and unfortunately had a stroke due to getting the correct diagnosis. My afib is increasing more often as time goes on and I now just ordered ReMag, although I am somewhat leary about taking another procedure with all the other medications I am on. But I feel this is my next thing I have to do or have surgery.
I have always tried to be positive as I know I have to rule it or it will rule me. If there is any feedback you can give I would greatly appreciate it and am glad you are doing so well which is my goal in making myself better and live a normal live and help others.
There is no doubt I have been afib-free for the past 2+ years because of my successful ablation. In my opinion, an ablation is the only shot at a true cure for afib. I don’t believe drugs work or supplements work. I think they can help but they can’t provide the long-term “cure” that an ablation can provide.
Having said that, ablations are only effective if done by a highly skilled, highly experienced EP (which there are only a handful in the U.S.).
I take ReMag to help combat my PVCs and PACs and to ensure my magnesium levels are always normal as per the EXA test.
If you have any other questions, let me know!
Since you are using ReMag are you also using Dr Dean’s ReMyte along with it? Are you also starting with 1/4 tsp and gradually increasing the dosage? If not how do you know how much you need?
I have decided to use this product and I am on day 8. I just don’t know how to know if I will have to do this the rest of my life. I do NOT have a naturapath doctor and have not told my cardiologist that I am taking it.
My hopes were to cure AFib. Am I dreaming?
Yes, I also take ReMyte along with ReMag. I’ve been taking both of them for the past two years. It’s been so long ago since I started taking them that I can’t remember if I started out with the low dose and gradually increased it. I’m sure I did.
Today I generally take 2 teaspoons of ReMag and 1 1/2 teaspoons of ReMyte everyday.
As to your question on how much do you need, that will depend. Everyone is different. It takes experimentation. At times I was taking as much as 900mg per day. Then I went down to 400mg per day. Now I’ve settled at 600mg per day. Start with a lower dose and then gradually increase your dose until you hit the “sweet spot” -that being where you’re symptoms have subsided and you’re not experiencing any side effects from too much magnesium. That “sweet spot” will be different for everyone.
As to your last question, I am NOT a believer that afib can be cured just by taking magnesium. However, Dr. Dean (the person behind ReMag) says it is very possible. I have also heard from fellow afibbers who have claimed they have been able to stop their afib just by taking magnesium.
I hope magnesium helps you, and it very likely will, but I wouldn’t go into it expecting it to CURE your afib. I would go into it thinking it will HELP reduce the severity and frequency of your afib.
I wish you well!
Travis, good to hear from you and very interesting testing. It’s always good to know where our mineral levels are once or twice a year. Potassium has come into the conversation in quite a few blogs lately. I have never had a problem maintaining good levels, but am just the opposite and need to be on guard for high levels of potassium which may have caused afib a few times. My Mag supplement is anywhere from 200-600mg per night and don’t feel any lack there.
On another note however, I went to a new ND who immediately had my adrenals tested by a saliva test for about $120. That was 2 months ago, after 9 episodes of afib and daily PVCs. My levels were seriously impacted. Long story short, she put me on 3 supplements for Cortisol control and I now have zero PVCs, not even a blip and of course no afib since they began to work. That took about 3 weeks. Not to mention, an accelerated weight loss of 20 lbs in 2 months. I highly suggest this test for anyone who believes their afib is adrenal motivated.
Hi Travis and that is great news about your test results and about your PVCs and PACs! I am so grateful for the information you have alway shared and how you have helped me so much too. It is such a blessing to be A Fib free and I am getting all my nutrients figured out on a regular schedule to keep great health maintained. I also started taking B vitamins to keep the adrenals kicking and it has really helped my fatigue lessen. Take good care! Carol
As always, it’s great to hear from you. I’m so glad you’re doing so well these days. How is your recovery going? Has your heart rate settled down at all? If not, no worries. It will! I hope everything else is going well in your recovery.
Have a Happy 4th of July!
I’ve seen you mention that adrenal test in other comments on this blog. I’m working with my ND to take that test as well. I’ll definitely be posting about it once I finally get the test completed and the results back!
Good to hear you’re doing so well!
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