Vagal Tone & AF

Evening guys, hope this finds you AF free.

As many of you know, I have had AF for some 10+'years, had 2 ablations and many, many episodes lasting from a few seconds to many days. Several were serious enough to mean hospital admissions, but most I have been able to sit out at home.

Sometimes my AF had triggers, other times I could not correlate with any food, drink or a activity. Some episodes I knew were Vagal related, others not. There was absolutely no consistency.

Anyway, after some 2+years my AF returned last September and my GP called paramedics as I was in fast AF (HR 170+) for some hours and she wanted me monitored. I didn't want to go to hospital so with Paramedic supervision we tried all the usual vagal maneuvers, with no success. (I cannot take any anti-arrythmics, beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers).

Then the paramedics suggested a new one on me - lying supine on the floor in a relaxed attitude whilst they took one ankle each and keeping my legs straight, they lifted my legs quickly - until 90 degrees to my torso ( I am quite supple and don't have tight hamstrings - if you try this be very sure you only go as far as you are comfortable!).

Anyway it didn't seem to work so I reluctantly walked out to the ambulance and whilst they hooked me up to monitors I provaricated about going to A&E. Soon after they hooked me up my HR started to come down so they were persuaded - with tea and biscuits - to wait for another 10 mins to see if I reverted into NSR and I did! So I returned to bed, it was after midnight, and they went out their way to their next emergency. I had another episode in October, nothing since until yesterday when the familiar thumping started - this time at 8.45am. The episode lasted about 2 hours and I just did my breathing and listened to NSR recording and again I reverted to NSR.

Today I was very busy, I knew I had overdone things and sure enough at about 4.30pm I was back in AF. This time Hubbie was home so I asked him to do the lift the legs - I reverted to NSR after about 10 mins. I rested for 30 mins and then thought I was OK - went into the kitchen and started cooking and straight back into AF - this time more symptomatic and higher HR. Back on the floor - another lift legs maneuver and back into NSR.

Now sitting with legs up and not moving for rest of evening!

Anyway - enforced relaxation means I have been reading everything I can about Vagus Nerve and recently received an email about Breath of Life Conference in London, May 13-15, 2017 - Rollin McCraty, PhD, presenting Heart-Brain Dynamics and I noticed that one of the speakers is Dr Stephen Purgess - Polyvagal Theory. Following links I then found a mention to this - HEAL YOUR VAGUS NERVE, HEAL YOURSELF: A Guide to Enhancing Vagus Nerve - copy found on Amazon and available for £2.50 as a Kindle download. Although there was nothing new to me here - I would strongly recommend this book for anyone curious to have a basic understanding of vagus nerve, the connections to brain, Autonomic system, digestive system, autoimmune diseases and anxiety. A very easy to understand good read if you want a basic understanding.

After a second successful ablation in 2014 I developed sudden onset symptoms of a quite rare autoimmune neuro-muscular disease and CFS. I also had known autonomic dysfunctions, several episodes documented whilst in hospital

I have always had the idea that all these conditions shared a link and was encouraged when I found others with similar experiences. This little book clearly demonstrates that I maybe on the right track! Yeah!

If there is anyone doubtful out there of the efficacy of regular Yoga practice, Mindfulness & good diet with supplements, I urge you to read this little book - 30 minutes reading tops.

Stay welll - best wishes CD.

12 Replies

  • Very interesting CD. I shall certainly try to get hold of this book.

    Also will try the leg business in future. I've actually been AF free for almost 8 months so feeling quite optimistic.


  • very interesting I must remember the raised legs idea

  • very interesting- I must remember the raised legs idea

  • Very interesting CD. I remember reading about how the Valsalva maneuvre can be made more effective if the patient's legs are raised immediately after the valsalva has been completed.

    Will also get the book.

  • Interesting CDreamer. I remember, probably a few years ago, that someone on this forum recommended lying on the floor on your back and putting your legs up the wall. One night while in AF I did this, lay down on my bed and put my legs as high as I could up the wall. The result was I very nearly passed out and I thought I'd never try that again! The way you described is slightly different, so I'll give it a go next time.

    Thanks for sharing.


  • The paramedics said you need to relax in supine position for a few moments, then get others to lift you legs quickly - think it is the rush of blood back into the torso that does it, not immediately, took about 10 minutes but no matter as it worked!

  • Yes, I may have done what I did too quickly.

  • Hi, thanks for that... Just bought. Best wishes. Kath

  • Thank you so much CDreamer for taking the time to write your experiences and advice - very interesting and helpful advice.

    Im a novice to the vagal thing but I'm particularly intrigued by the idea as I have so many medical issues that I believe to be interconnected (and yet the medical professionals treat as separate - and just add more meds to treat symptoms rather than look for root causes). I will get that book - thank you!

    Hope you stay well :) x

  • Last week I came to the conclusion that I must not rush after AF has stopped. Even going back to some relaxing work at the computer was enough to make things worse.

    A step backwards from your case, but related. My AF was first diagnosed when what I thought was a tachcardia simply would not stop. In times past, an incident of tachycardia was routine, and stopped within 5-40 minutes. I had been told that if it happened more than three times in a week to see the cardiologist, who tried various meds over the years, the main one being prophylaxis with flecainide. That did the trick.

    Currently, I am trying to stay off these meds. Last week, tachycardia, 150, suddenly stopped after a drink of cold water, slow deep breathing, and lying down + Valso movements. 30 minutes later, back to work. Then, tachycardia again. Wow, the first time I can recall, twice in one hour. This time it was 110, heavier thuds, unresponsive to the tricks. So, not knowing what was best, I took 100mg flec + 2.5mg bisoprolol, crunched up, cold water, empty stomach. I noticed the HR slowly decreased, first resting at 100, then a slow shift to 80 over 5 minutes.

    For the next three days I took 50mg flec in the early evening: I sensed the irregularities were building up, which will then trigger increased rate, and end up in some mess.

    Next time I have an incident, even if I get it fixed with physical tricks, I plan to take 50mg of flec, just to keep the lid on it. I appreciate that in your case you cannot take these meds, but others can, and it may help.

  • Thank you for the book recommendation. I've downloaded and will read today. I'm +1month post ablation and dealing with vagal AF so extremely interested in any findings that you'all have and can pass on. Thanks again.

  • This is very much about explanation, how it connects many conditions which are treated separately in modern medicine and how to improve Vagal tone.

    I have been working on Vagal tone through breathing exercises with a power breather, Tai Chi & Qigong practice, diet & supplements and HBOT and just started cold showers - eeek!

    I believe my problems started by both triggers - viral and trauma so I also take anti-vitals at the first hint of any virus infection - helps if you have a supportive GP.

    The lead person to read is Dr Stephen Purgess - he will be in London lecturing in 2017. He first proposed Polyvagal Theory and it is still very early days and hasn't filtered down through to mainstream medicine in any serious manner yet,

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