Stopping an Afib Episode at Home or Night

Woman grabbing chest from Afib symptoms at home in bedroom at nighttime

While we often talk about very effective treatments for atrial fibrillation, like ablation, these require a series of steps, including coming in for a consultation and visiting our hospital-based electrophysiology lab for treatment. As such, patients many patients want to know how they can stop an Afib episode in its tracks at home or at night. Because Afib is often caused by a structural issue of the heart, notably additional electrical inputs from the left atrium, there is no surefire way to end the Afib episode every time. However, there are a few ways to try to activate nerves and functions in your body that could help.

Note: If you have heart disease or are in poor general health, be careful when performing activities that could shock your heart or body. Speak to Dr. Tordini about how to best manage Afib at home before treatment. Also, remember that paroxysmal Afib, which occurs occasionally, may be more receptive to these techniques than persistent Afib, which lasts for over a week and up to a year. Once Afib has reached the persistent stage, visit your cardiac electrophysiologist for treatment before further worsening. Ideally, you stop it in the paroxysmal phase.

So, without further delay, let’s discuss what you can do at home to stop an Afib episode.

Splash cold water on your face or take a quick, cold shower. This may seem simple, yet it can be effective. The cold hitting our skin can stimulate the vagus nerve and help regulate the heartbeat. If you opt for a cold shower, be sure you have cleared this with your cardiologist beforehand, as this can shock the body. Interestingly, eating or drinking cold foods is different. Consuming cold items can cool the left atrium via the esophagus and cause, or worsen, Afib.

Yoga may be an excellent option during an Afib episode. Yoga has proven benefits, including reducing blood pressure through physical exercise and deep breathing, which can slow the heart rate. Importantly, regular yoga can prevent future Afib episodes. While exercise is generally good for Afib, high-impact and intense exercises can worsen It. Speak to your doctor about the best exercises for you.

Following the deep breathing component if you cannot perform a yoga maneuver. Meditation and or mindfulness can help. You can look up deep breathing techniques and see which works best. Deep breathing is critical to regulating the nervous system and, in turn, the heart rate.

The Valsalva maneuver, where you pinch your nose and gently blow through it, can regulate pressure within your ear and chest. However, understand that this may not always work, and pushing too hard may cause physical problems.

The Bottom Line

While it is helpful to know how to manage an Afib episode at home, it’s important to be under the care of an electrophysiologist. If you don’t have a relationship with an EP, finding someone you trust to diagnose your condition and develop an appropriate treatment plan is important. This is especially true if you have seen a primary care physician or cardiologist, but your treatment plan hasn’t provided the relief you need or expect. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Tordini for more information.

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