Vagal AF stopped by 60 seconds intense exercise

I have just seen this. It may be worth a try for some people. He had vagal AF, which comes during relaxation. So, after warming up, he did 60 seconds intense activity on a home cycle bike. Running up stairs would probably do the same trick. His AF stopped, but only if in the morning. In the evening, he had to wait till morning.


22 Replies

  • Pretty sure I have Vagal AF. After eating, relaxing or bending. Walking doesn't set it off, but the weariness involved makes me reluctant. Today I've been stacking chopped wood, no problem, soon as I stop, bam!!

  • My AF is thought to be probably of vagal origin. I'm afraid exercise made it worse . I tried going upstairs very briskly and it sent my already fast rate to over 240. When paramedics arrived ( at GPs insistence i may add!) they couldn't get me onto the wagon quick enough !! Eventually settled at about 140/150 but needed DCCV . So not a good idea for everyone.

  • Fair enough, learn and live! To be fair, the original article did say, 'after a warm up' which for him might have been five minutes slow walk. I know for me, the warmup is at least 15 minutes, then a good pause, then I can really walk. When hiking there is usually a second stage after 1-2 hours, then I suddenly switch gear.

    Warm up, then vigorous activity, then warm down.

  • It is very similat to may case. I have flutter with 50-60 resting heart rate. I'm veteran athlethe. Flutter arrives early in the morning or after food. This is the typical vagal afib. Also referred in the literature as Coumel type afib. I have episodes weekly.

    Important, that I have cardiac reserve. During the episode my resting heart rate is 65-80 bpm. During the exercise it goas up to ~130.

  • Thanks for posting the article Lowe.

    To stop my Vagal AF I would choose brisk walking but not intense activity. However, first I would try resting mind over matter; the last minor episode I had 2 years ago I lay on the sofa and focussed hard on an NSR heartbeat YouTube recording on my iPad and my heart went back into NSR after 20 mins.

    The odd thing with AF I suspect is what can put you into AF can also snap you out of it eg. an ice cold shower - however I am not recommending it and haven't been brave enough to try it myself. It is the same theory as the 'intense activity' cure you mention which can also put you into AF.

    I prefer preventative not provoke known triggers and as I read recently the AF risk is the highest when Vagal Tone is elevated which is usually 24-36hrs after a trigger activity (stress, poor sleep etc). If you can't avoid a problem then use extra relaxation exercises before and after the event i.e. everyday!

  • This is such an interesting post - for a while I have been thinking about the possibility that biological entrainment may be a potential treatment for AF - the tendency for a system to synchronize with another "coupled" external system. Normally entrainment requires some form of coupling - so the rhythm of one system needs to be "felt" in some way by the other system. An example is here:

    What you are saying is that by listening and focusing on a sinus rhythm for a long time - coupled through the auditory system and the visual system - your heart eventually "entrained" and reverted to sinus rhythm. In fact, the phenomenon is very well known in science / engineering - and so this seems to be a promising direction. I doubt it will work for everyone - but it's fascinating that it worked for you - and I'm going to try it too.

  • Is that why slow pleasant repetitive exercise, like walking with arms swinging, walking at optimum speed (because too slowly can be as stressful as too quickly) often smooths out an irregular heart rhythm? Also, I am thinking of a car engine which is idling and has nothing to work against tends to be irregular? I would love to know more. Also, combined with the article "A healthy heart is not a metronome" which seems to be saying something different.

  • Yes you make a great point: heart rates should not be perfectly metronomic - a healthy heart will subtly increase and decrease in rate along with our breathing, giving rise to a small degree of heart rate "variability". This is a healthy autonomic response - it shows the heart is responsive to fluctuations of oxygen levels in the blood.

    Yet I don't think this is contradictory to the idea of heart rate entrainment - where an erratic heart moves "towards" regularity via a process of entrainment.

    It seems there is anecdotal evidence that entrainment can sometimes speed up the time it takes to revert from AF to sinus rhythm. And this isn't entirely surprising - because we know that if you listen to slow tempo music, your heart rate slows, and vice versa. The latter effects are very reliable and well documented.

    But rigorous research is needed to determine how entrainment can be used as a supplementary treatment for paroxysmal AF.

  • orchardworker I go along with your last paragraph, particularly AF 24/36 hours after trigger activity. ( I'll pass on the ice cold shower bit though....that would finish me off)


  • I'm convinced my afib is vagal as I only get it when lying down, have found nothing else that sets it off and am otherwise fit and healthy. I understand from what I've read that afib that is vagal is not recognised as a separate thing and it states that it's not common in the article. I wonder just how common it is given that I've read a lot of posts that say their again starts at night.

  • My AF is exactly the same. I try not to eat after 8pm and never lie down for 4 hours after food. I think that helps.

  • Agreed

  • I don't eat after 8pm and have not been lying for 2 hours after I've eaten and it hasn't made any difference but will try for 4 hrs and see if that makes a difference. Thanks

  • 8 pm! Lucky you. I eat between 5-6 pm ... It makes dinner invitations hard, knowing you'll have a night from hell after you've politely overeaten, and finished off with a sugary dessert ... :)

  • orchardworker. "AF risk is the highest when Vagal Tone is elevated which is usually 24-36hrs after a trigger activity (stress, poor sleep etc)."

    The delay is interesting. I shall look out for it. Reminds me of back pain. I usually feel it the next day, then have to think back to what I did wrong.

    This means practically, that the effects of a stressful event may hit you later. That figures, though for me that might be a delay of only a few hours.

  • When I last had an episode it started in the middle of the night when my pulse was in the mid forties. It was still present in the morning. I decided to put it out of my mind and go for one of my power walks. No more than 5 minutes into the walk I noticed I was back in NSR.

  • As some of you know, I have been trying a chiropractor solution and a Scenar device. Finally, I found a chiropractor who has made an amazing difference. And I have an appointment with another who treats AF, one recommended by the this last chiropractor. After 8 months with one chiropractor and some improvement, I tried another and with only three treatments my AF is much better. I can usually stop it most every time it starts and can keep it from starting much more often. I have noticed all the results mentioned by others in this post and realized most so called "triggers" affect spinal misalignment and influence the nerves. The secret is to get the spine fixed. The trigger points in the spine are where the vagus nerve exits. These are at C1 and C2 and T1 to T5. Chiropractors need special training to deal with the upper ones around C1 and C2 and the bones in the skull. And they need to know how to tweak each individual vertebrae. Then, the difficult task is to keep the adjustment that they make in the optimum position. This takes time and maybe lots of chiropractor visits with exercises on your part depending upon the condition of your spine. Like everyone, not all chiropractors have equal knowledge and skill. You need to find one who first is open minded enough to accept that when you ask them to treat you for AF that they will try an appropriate treatment. If they say "daa", then move on to another. It is not commonly known by chiropractors that they can treat AF and may even be discouraged by the AF "experts". Remember no one knows the cause of AF. Symptoms only are treated. And the other mainstream doctors will tell you it is impossible; but then this opinion is likely not based on facts.

    I suggest that you give this option a try. I am glad that I did. I am not on drugs so it is easy for me to notice the impact on the heart since I don't have something in my system (drugs) counteracting what the spinal adjustments achieve. If you are not getting results with the first chiropractor, find another. Do some research on their education and capabilities and ask other people for recommendations.

  • Thanks Engmac, I have no experience of chiropractors for AF treatment but I have possible supportive evidence of your suggestion.

    Whenever I sat down to read or watch TV, I needed a lot of neck support with a couple of cushions to relax. Along with my AF disappearing, coincidence or not, so has my need for such neck support. I can only put it down to a Qigong exercise, I do one simple exercise at home daily.

    Whilst we are on body movement, in case it helps anybody - I met an Afer who said no longer can she bend double to do gardening and I sympathised saying for as long as I can remember I have felt uncomfortable bending over to do up shoelaces. However, now after generally trying to reduce vagal tone, maybe the Qigong again, I no longer get that feeling.

  • Hi Orchardworker, can you please describe your Qigong exercise? I would like to try it. Thanks for all your helpful comments, Jane

  • Sure. This is the only Qigong exercise I know: Squat as if you are sitting on a pony, finger tips touching and arms raised to heart level, deep breathe in slowly imagining your breath starting at the bottom of your tummy and round (rather than straight up the middle), hold for a couple of seconds and let it out slowly as if it was going down through a silver thread running through your whole body starting at the top of your head.

    You are supposed to do this for several minutes but I only do 4 repetitions a day. As well as your legs burning a bit you should feel the stomach and the neck strethening, which I think is the beneficial bit re the Vagus Nerve. This exercise is also good for relaxation/reducing anxiety. Hope it helps you Jane.

  • Thanks very much, I'm having a particularly stressful time at the moment and reducing anxiety would be excellent. Interestingly after a couple of goes at this I found I was bringing up wind I didn't know was trapped, sorry if too much information! Regards, Jane

  • No not at all. The strengthening of the stomach muscles may be doing that or check out your diet, digestion and tongue colour as a good gut is important re AF/Vagus Nerve.

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