An interesting comment by a doctor on the site Zipdoctor

My question:

I have spoken to a chiropractor and he says he can stop atrial fibrillation. I know I can very often stop atrial fibrillation continuing by manipulating my neck, if I do this when atrial fibrillation starts, and I assume this is impacting the vagus nerve. Often, I only need to stand to stop it. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

The Answer”

My name is Dr. S.A, Welcome to zipdoctor.com and I will be helping you here today. First of all, let me apologize for the late response as we are having technical issues with the site. Let me reassure you that this will not happen in the future.

Thanks for this question. You are correct in assuming that pressure on the right location in the neck would stimulate the vagus nerve and would slow down the heart. It would not exactly eliminate the atrial fibrillation but it would certainly slow down the heart rate. The heart would STILL be beating irregularly in most cases, albeit at a slower rate. This is the method most doctors use when they don’t have drugs on hand to slow down the heart, we apply pressure on the carotid sinus which stimulates the vagus nerve and this would slow down the heart.

Now the chiropractor would do something of this sort and he may be successful in slowing down the heart but he CANNOT eliminate atrial fibrillation, he might be able to decrease the heart rate for some time but it would reappear later on especially if it is chronic afib. So it is NOT recommended that you go for this method. This is ONLY a temporary method to control heart rate and not a recommended treatment.

My comments on the doctor's comments:

This is the first time that I received an answer that explains why I get results when I do what this doctor states. In my case, my heart reverts to sinus, which I have done over a hundred times at least. The chiropractor has done something to influence AF; but what and how long it takes to find a more permanent fix is a “big” guess, if it is even possible. The vagus nerve is such a big part of how our bodies function, and I doubt that its full impact is fully understood, that it is extremely difficult to surmise if chiropractors can help. Doctors, like us, don’t know what they don’t know.

Yesterday, AF started when I was using a “multitool”. This has also happened when a trim razor was used during a haircut. I was able to stop the AF each time. I have recently read that electromagnetic fields can affect AF, which many on this forum have noted. I expect these two devices emit very noisy electromagnetic fields

9 Replies

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  • Just to say that it can be dangerous to use this method- if one blows out- like blowing a balloon but don't let the air escape- that also works on the vagus nerve- as does bearing down as if having a bowel movement- these are less dangerous ways to try !!

  • Interesting - a friend of mine who gets sudden palpitations (which could be flutter, I'm not sure) claims that she can revert her palpitations by putting pressure on her neck - presumably a blood vessel - just under her jaw. I've also been following the ongoing developments for implantable devices to stimulate the vagus nerve. e.g., see

    medscape.com/viewarticle/84...

  • I have been stalling an ablation in the hope that these implantables become readily available. Ever the optimist!

  • I have read somewhere that they are trying to develop non invasive wearable devices. Let's hope this happens soon. On a side note maybe we on the forum should crowd fund it open a r & d lab, put it to market as well😁. I really do hope something like this comes along

  • Interesting (although very technical) article. Much better approach than administering drugs.

  • My doctor told me he can stop an episode of af by neck manipulation but it can be dangerous and it doesn't cure the af. I've been given a syringe (without needle) and told to blow into it as hard and as long as I can. Quite often it works but not always. Drinking ice cold water has also stopped it for me occasionally. Dear old vagus nerve. The other side of the coin for me was before Christmas when I had a very bad right ear infection and throat infection/ virus. Affected my swallowing and voice, had a facial palsy and my heart went into a sort of fast af that jumped from 100 to 170 if I moved. All these things controlled by the nerves which are very close to the ear! Spent 11 days in hospital. As my ear got better so did the rest. Still not 100% but heart is out of af. All these things are joined up.

  • Maybe I am misunderstanding this vagus nerve situation. I was under the impression that the vagus nerve is part of our parasympathetic nerve system, and slows the heart rhythm down, as opposed to the sympathetic nerve system that raises the heart rate. The vagus nerve from my understanding kicks in to slow a fast beating heart, i.e. If you are running and you slow down, the vagus nerve slows your heart down back to normal resting sinus rhythm. In those of us whose afib is caused by more of a vagal type reaction, i.e. we get afib usually after a meal and settling down to rest, my understanding is that the heart rate drops too low at this point, and other cells in the heart fire to raise the rate to "normalize" the rate, and thus cause afib. That's when the vagus nerve kicks in to try to lower the heart rate even more, and thus the afib worsens because more cells fire to raise the rate. Therefore, it is not good to try to manual stimulate the vagus nerve on the neck because you don't want to, in a sense, add more fuel to the fire. I know two EPs who said that deep coughing and vagus nerve neck massage do not work in these types of afib and that they can only make things worse. Perhaps vagus nerve stimulation works better with flutter, or when afib is caused by a more sympathetic nerve reaction rather than a parasympathetic nerve reaction? Any thoughts?

  • I agree with Jomama that it's important to know whether you have paf which is vagally induced or adrenergic. The former may be made worse by vagal stimuli and the latter improved.

  • Interesting comments. I was at the chiropractors the other day and happened to be in AF which I stopped before he started working on my neck and spine. By doing this, he could make my heart enter and exit AF in an instant. He was not pressing on any blood vessels. I spoke to another chiropractor and she seemed to think the voltage and current in the vagus nerve, both sympathetic and parasympathetic, probably regulated the heart and spinal impact at C1 and C2 and Ti and T2 could be the problem if the nerves were being pinched. Pinched nerves certainly affect other parts of the body so maybe the heart as well.

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