I never understood the advice to submerge face into icy water when under AF episode. This morning, my friend (nurse) mentioned this if I felt rapid heart rate and AF attack. His explanation was something called "Mammalian Diving Reflex".

I checked Wikipedia and voila:

"Bradycardia is the first response to submersion. Immediately upon facial contact with cold water, the human heart rate slows down ten to twenty-five percent."

I just wanted to share this with you in case some you didn't know this interesting cause and effect.

16 Replies

  • Very interesting.

    Wiki says "The mammalian diving reflex is a reflex in mammals which optimises respiration to allow staying underwater for extended periods of time."

  • That's interesting will give this a go at some stage.


  • I tried it, but maybe the water wasn't cold enough... Maybe I should go swimming!

  • I'll try that next time. A paramedic suggested drinking iced water. Now I keep a bottle of water in the fridge. Sometimes (not always) drinking as much as I can, as quickas I can will take me from fast AF to tachycardia, which I find easier to cope with. Sounds like it could be a related body response

  • have had it work with ice cold shower.

  • Many years ago someone I worked with was told to do that or to drink some ice cold water if he didn't have a pill in his pocket. I'm not sure if he had ectopics or AF.

  • W-woww! Thanks!!!

  • I'll try it. Heck, I'd try just about anything to get out of it ... although I have to say the folk wisdom for bringing on labor (eat a curry, have sex) seemed a bit more fun ...

  • This is for SVT and unlikely to work for AF.

  • An video guide to the procedure during an SVT episode (ha!)

    (Best not get ill in an American Emergency Room)

  • It was a TELEVISION drama series ER

  • Interesting. I read a report that when seals dive deep their hearts slow right down so cold water must affect the heart rate of humans too. I have tried drinking very cold water when my heart rate is up and it does slow down! Also if I am dehydrated my heart speeds up and drinking water brings it down.

  • I wonder if a cold beer would work as well 🍺 😀

    We need someone to sacrifice themselves and try it 😉

  • It works the best but you have to dive into it.

  • When paramedics came first time at home they asked me to suck ice cubes. Also to bare down! Recently ,I had drunk a cup of green tea peppermint flavour which I didn't realise thought it was just peppermint had fast heart had a bottle of iced water in the car sat relaxed consumed cold wafter and it subside. I think it works sometimes. I consumed much more water now than I have ever done. GREEN TEA IS CAFFEINE BASED. Chris

  • Yes, I had heard this and anecdotally I have always splashed my face with cold water several times before retiring at night and strangely it makes me feel much better - I wonder if it is connected.

    From what I have read here over the last 2 years plus my own limited experiences, I would say the trouble is with this is understanding your Vagus Nerve. Cold and very likely other physical actions can work not just one but both ways e.g. I put myself into AF a while back by downing just half a bottle of ice cold ginger beer. That said I am happy to put this on my list to try the next time I go into AF.

    Enjoy your weekend!

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