Relief From AFib
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Relief For AFib Attack | Calm An Atrial Fibrillation Episode

If you’ve ever suffered from an AFib episode, you will know that it is a pretty nasty experience. Your heart pumps with an irregular beat and fast, making you feel very unusual. Below are some suggestions that can potentially help reduce the effects of AFib.

IMPORTANT: If you do suffer from AFib speak to your doctor before trying any of the stuff below.

Face In Cold Water

Place your face in cold water during an AFib episode. This is a form of a Vagal manoeuvre, a technique used to slow your heart rate. The Vagal nerve helps regulate your heartbeat, and its stimulation can help revert the heart back to a normal rhythm or at least slow down the rate during an episode of AFib. 

How It Works

  • The cold water stimulates the vagus nerve by activating the “dive reflex,” a physiological response that occurs when your face is submerged in cold water. This reflex is more pronounced in cold water and can help slow down your heart rate.

  • The dive reflex lowers heart rate by triggering a parasympathetic response, the part of the nervous system that promotes a “rest and digest” state, instead of the “fight or flight” response.

How to Perform

  1. Bowl of Cold Water: The water should be as cold as you can bear. Adding ice can enhance the effect.

  2. Submerge Your Face: Take a deep breath and gently submerge your face in the bowl of cold water. Hold this position for a few seconds.

  3. Repeat if Necessary: You can repeat the manoeuvre several times. Obviously, if it doesn’t help or makes you feel worse, stop.

Beta Blockers

When I had my AFib episode, the doctor prescribed me some beta blockers to help relieve my AFib attack.

Beta-blockers are a class of medications that are commonly prescribed for managing various cardiovascular conditions, including atrial fibrillation (AFib). Beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of adrenaline, which reduces the heart rate and the heart’s workload, helping to normalise the heart rhythm.

The use of beta blockers in AFib can help in several ways:

  1. Rate Control: Beta blockers are effective in slowing down the heart rate. This is particularly important in AFib, where the heart can beat very fast and inefficiently.

  2. Symptom Management: By controlling the heart rate, beta blockers can help reduce symptoms associated with AFib such as palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

  3. Reducing Complications: Slowing the heart rate can also help prevent complications associated with AFib, including reducing the risk of heart failure.


Breathing exercises can be an effective way to manage symptoms of atrial fibrillation (AFib). The breathing exercises listed below can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and promote relaxation, which can be beneficial in relieving AFib.

Deep Breathing

  • How to do it: Sit in a comfortable position or lie down. Close your eyes, and take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your stomach to rise as you fill your lungs with air. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth, letting your stomach fall. Aim to make your exhale twice as long as you inhale.

  • Frequency: Repeat for 5-10 minutes

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  • How to do it: Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe in slowly through your nose, trying to keep your chest still while making your stomach move up and down. Exhale slowly through your mouth.
  • Frequency: 5-10 minutes

4-7-8 Breathing Technique

  • How to do it: Breathe in quietly through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds. Exhale forcefully through your mouth, pursing your lips and making a “whoosh” sound for 8 seconds. The exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation, promoting relaxation.

  • Frequency: Repeat the cycle up to 4 times in a row

Progressive Muscle Relaxation with Deep Breathing

  • How to do it: While taking deep breaths, tense a group of muscles as you breathe in (e.g., your fists), and relax them as you breathe out. Move through different muscle groups in your body, from your feet to your head.

  • Frequency: Spend 5-10 minutes going through the muscle groups

Conclusion: How To Calm An AFib Episode 

If you do suffer from an AFib attack there is no way to stop it completely. You just have to wait for it to play out.

The things I’ve listed above will, to some degree, help slow your heart rate down. All the above helped me to some degree during my AFib episode. 


FAQ: Calming An AFib Episode

How do I know if I have AFib?

Below are the symptoms I experienced when I had an AFib attack that are often associated with having AFib.

  • Irregular heartbeat – If you check your pulse, it isn’t a regular beat. When I had my AFib attack, I could feel my heart was not pumping in a nice rhythm. 

  • Out of breath – During an AFib attack, your heart pumps oxygen around your body inefficiently. This means the smallest amount of physical exercise makes you feel out of breath.

  • Feeling unusual – When I had my AFib attack I just felt really strange, I can’t put my finger on what exactly felt strange, but its wasn’t a good feeling.

  • Take ECG – There are ECG devices that you can use at home to take your ECG. After my AFib attack, I purchased the KardiaMobile 6L, which the doctor recommended to me.

What is a Vagal manoeuvre?

A vagal manoeuvre is a technique that can slow down your heart rate by stimulating the vagus nerve, which helps regulate your heart and the blood vessels. The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve connecting your brain to your body. It plays a crucial role in the nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation and slowing down the heart rate.




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