How I stopped some of my AF events

For my first 3 or 4 rapid AF events, I was so scared about what was happening I tended to stay as still as possible, afraid to move. On the 4th or 5th admission to the emergency ward, a nurse decided to adjust the trolley/bed I'd been on for several hours. There was a jerky sudden movement as he did so and the AF stopped at the same moment.

I always feel the sudden onset of my AF and likewise when it ends just as suddenly, often after about 3 to 7 hours.

After that experience I've been less scared of movement, and in fact make sudden movements on purpose in an effort to stop the attack. The other thing, which seems to stop some AF events very quickly in the early stages is to cough. As hard as I can. Often when I do that the AF stops before it gets a hold.

The only other thing I've noticed is that the last attack (which lasted some hours as I wasn't able to stop it by coughing) started immediately after I'd yawned. Other than that there was no obvious trigger as I'd just been sitting on the lounge watching TV at the time.

Don't know if that will match anyone else's experience, but I'm throwing it into the discussion in the hope it might help someone.

14 Replies

  • I think it's because coughing etc has an effect on the vagus nerve- another thing to try is bearing down as if constipated!! also blowing out cheeks but keeping mouth closed

  • Hi Linda - An interesting post.

    I've been wondering lately if sudden movement starts my AF. Such as getting out of bed in the night and then lying down again, sitting typing at my PC or sat still watching t.v. then getting up . So I'm sure it probably works the other way around. I've discovered a few times that my AF has stopped when I have a shower.


  • That's funny Jean, my AF has started on several occasions shortly after I stepped into the shower!! Sandra

  • Hi Sandra - I think bending down to wash feet in the shower can either stop or start AF. A neighbour of mine once told me that she had palpitations and was able to stop them by bending down to towards her feet.

    I agree with Lynda though in that I find it's better to keep moving around if you can when AF starts. I was once going on a walking date with a man and before I set off to meet him my heart started playing up. I desperately wanted to go, so took 2 tablets and then went out and walked several miles along the steep coastal footpath with no problems - wasn't even breathless! I sometimes think that sitting still thinking we mustn't move when we have a fast heart rate just keeps it at a high rate. My tachycardia usually starts at a really high rate, then I do rest, but it soon settles to about 130-140. It has taken me years to find out what does or doesn't work for me.

    My latest cure is the breathing technique, then if I get the beat down a little I then follow with a small tspn of Himalyan salt in a glass of water. Last time I soon went back into sinus rhythm which is unusual for me as once my heart starts it usually goes on for weeks/months.

    As is always said on here we are all different and what works for one person, may not for another. I never scoff at what people say works for them, just because it doesn't for me. Someone on this site said the Himalyan salt worked for him. It didn't the first time I tried it, but did the second.

    I have paroxysmal AF, atrial flutter and have been told that my heartbeat is coming from an unusual source. I had an echocardiogram last week and was told that I have a slightly leaky mitral valve and a strong heart.

    Hope you are well.


  • I have tried the techniques outlined by RosyG and they had no effect on me. I have, however, often thought that a sudden violent movement might shock my heart to stop it fibrillating. I haven't dared to try anything in case it triggered a heart attack. The truth is that whilst it's fibrillating you're scared to upset it further!

  • I fully understand your fear Jennydog. That was how I used to feel too - and still do to some extent. But when the sudden jerky movement of the bed seemed to fix the AF, I realised it was worth trying. Wish it always worked, but even to stop some of them early on is good.

  • Lynda...i most certainly relate to this. Recently i was in hospitsl and went into fast AF as usual and the doc gave me IV metaprolol 3 times which did not work. I suggested that if i sit forward it might stop. I did sit forward and i reverted to NSR. I know it's not exactly the same as the sudden movement you describe, but it is similar in that hospital staff always encourage me to stay still when beating super fast and i used to be cautious about moving too much when very fast but in actual fact, moving is what slows me down!

  • Interesting comment Vony. Thanks. I put my stopped AF down to the jerkiness of the movement, but it could well have been just the move from lying very still, to being in a semi-sitting position.

  • I find that lying down is a trigger for me to have palps so maybe sitting up just alleviates whatever that trigger is. Such a mystery. Most docs have dismissed it but my EP said it could be due to changes in the venous return?! It took me a year before i recognised that trigger. Good luck:)

  • I also used to find that sudden movement would set me off on an episode, but then one way I used to stop it - if it had been bought on by running, which usually it was, was to do some short sprints followed by short walks.

  • Coughing hard can work to stop my runs of irregular beats. Several big coughs and Jumping up and down.

    A paramedic told me to take a deep breath, bear down and release the breath slowly,( the coughing and jumping hadn't worked)shortly after that my AF stopped. Icy cold water splashed on the face is another one to try.


  • Taking a deep breath and holding it for as long as possible works for me unless my ticker is being particularly uncooperative!

  • Thanks so much everyone. I'm amazed at the various extra hints here which I can try if/when the dreaded AF hits again. For me, the AF is quite intense, I described it once to curious nurses that it felt as if tiny people were in the heart kicking a football around. Anything is worth trying if it will help avoid prolonged sessions like that. They're quite scary.

  • When I was blue lighted to A&E because my pulse was so light (I only picked up 28 per min by feeling my wrist) the paramedic said coughing sends an electric impulse to the heart.

    Before I was put on 200mgs Flecainide /day any form of deep relaxing usually in the evening could set it off. It's now only 8 months later without an episode, including many lifestyle changes, do I feel reasonably comfortable about going into full relaxation mode.

    Hope that helps.

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