You’re in the middle of an afib attack. You have palpitations, rapid or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and extreme anxiety. I’ve been there. It’s no fun. Here are 8 things I’ve either done or others have done to help stop an atrial fibrillation episode. If you have something to add to the list, please share it in the comments!
1. Drink a glass of water.
Palpitations are sometimes caused by dehydration. Don’t drink any alcohol, coffee, tea, or soft drinks. Alcohol and caffeine can trigger atrial fibrillation, and the phosphorus in soft drinks can deplete magnesium (see below).
2. Eat a banana or drink low-sodium V8.
Atrial fibrillation can be caused by a lack of potassium, usually because of too much salt in the diet. Bananas are high in potassium (422mg in a medium banana) and low-sodium V8 has even more potassium (900mg in 8 oz). Tomato, prune, and orange juices all have decent amounts of potassium as well. But read the labels; some juices have high amounts of salt. Stay away from salt! See this list of high potassium foods.
If you have potassium supplements handy those can help too. The drawback to a lot of potassium supplements, however, is they have very little potassium – usually no more than 99mg per tablet or capsule – and they are often found in combination with calcium. I don’t recommend taking any calcium as it can excite the heart. Pure potassium gluconate powder is the best type of supplement to take. I always take NOW potassium gluconate powder.
3. Eat some pumpkin seeds.
Magnesium is essential for a normal heartbeat. Try eating some pumpkin seeds, which are high in magnesium. If you don’t have any pumpkin seeds, try brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, or any of the foods on this list.
If you have a magnesium supplement, you can take that, but only if it doesn’t include calcium. I personally take ReMag as I can take large doses of it during an episode without any laxative effect. Another supplement that can be highly effective is Ease magnesium spray.
4. Dunk your head in cold water.
Fill a sink with cold water and plunge your face in it. Sometimes this little jolt can help. Others have said a cold shower has a similar effect.
5. Lie down or exercise.
Some people find that their symptoms improve if they lie down and try to relax. Others find that doing a little exercise, which makes the heart beat faster and then slow down, helps even more. You’ll just have to experiment to find out if either of these suggestions work for you.
6. Try belly breathing.
Lie down or sit comfortably, and relax. Breath through your nose to a count of four, slowly filling your belly. Exhale through the nose or mouth for the same four count. Breathe deep into your belly, not your chest. Make the inhalations as long as the exhalations and breathe in a circle, i.e., don’t hold your breath on the inhale or exhale. You can also try breathing into the belly and holding the breath for a count of ten (stopping if you feel uncomfortable), then resume breathing rhythmically to a count of four.
7. Listen to a normal heart.
Listening to a normal heartbeat can help slow down your heart. This phenomenon is known as entrainment. Your heart may slow down to match the slower, normal heartbeat that you’re listening to. Try it:
8. Try the valsalva maneuver.
This is a safe and often times an effective method in slowing or stopping an atrial fibrillation episode. This maneuver greatly increases pressures inside the chest cavity which stimulates the vagus nerve and increases vagal tone. The vagus nerve is one of 12 cranial nerves and extends from the brain stem to the abdomen, via various organs including the heart, esophagus and lungs. Here is a video that demonstrates the maneuver:
If your symptoms continue or worsen, go back to the top of this post. It may be time to call 911.
Next: Recommendations to Help Prevent an Afib Attack
Discuss this ArticleClick here to start your own discussion topic or reply to any comments below by clicking on the "REPLY" buttons.
Thank you so much!!! I am writing this from the ER because my mom was having AFIB and I was Googling anything I could think of to help. I found this site and had her drink water and try the technique in the last video, and one of them took her out of AFIB before the doctor even got here. Thank you for sharing, it was an enormous help!!!
Glad to hear you found this site helpful. Also glad to hear your mom was able to convert to normal sinus rhythm on her own! I hope she stays in normal sinus rhythm.
Excellent recent video re: little evidence for linking atrial fib with chocolate or caffeine intake. Hopefully there is a way to revise some of your earlier recommendations about avoiding these substances. Disappointed to see so many references to supplements with links to Amazon purchase opportunities.
So, does everyone basically end up in the ER on a frequent basis, or need an ablation? Is there no solid way of stopping this without those options? I’ve had this life wrecking arrhythmia for just over two years and all of my natural ways of controlling it are helpful but not great. Some episodes last 12-18 hours but I refuse to go the the ER anymore, unless I get to the point that I can’t tolerate the symptoms. I refuse to take the drugs, and I’m terrified of the ablation because if something goes wrong, my 85 year old mom won’t have anyone to help her on a daily basis. So doing something and not doing something are equally frightening. I just want it to GO AWAY!!
My husband is a dr. and says that ablations are a 50/50 chance that it would help me and my situation with out a big risk of it not working. Everyone is different and the triggers can be similar or not even close. I appreciate everyone who writes what works for them here in the forum as it is all worth a try when you are being controlled by a heart with a mind of its own.
My afib began escalating and I too end up in the ER. The biggest culprit was stress. It takes time for it to cause the afib but then it takes that long to stop it once the stress has been reduced. The other thing for ME that always amazes me now that when I get that fluttering feeling, and there are no other causes, I have not been drinking enough water. Dehydration is a biggy. Everyone has their favorite water (or maybe just from the tap) but CORE water has been a game changer for me. For those of you that have a hard time getting enough water in, try doing what my daughter suggested, when you take a drink, gulp it. In other words, if you don’t like or remember to drink water enough then when you are taking your drink gulp it like you want to finish the whole bottle. You don’t have to drink the full bottle but you will get more of that water in you when you do and it will help!
The other is look how you sit. Are you leaning over or slouching where you are restricting lung space to breath and is your breathing has slowed? Your heart likes oxygen. When you get that one flit, sit up and breath deep into your diaphragm. These are the things to try and see if they work for you.
They helped me until they were not enough and my afib began to invade my life not a couple of times a month but a couple of times a week. They too would last for 12 or more hours and leave me exhausted when they ended. Recovery would finish me for that day. I eventually went to my dr. and because I have a vagul trigger they put me on flecainide, which is for episode control, and diltiazem for heart rate.
I am the worst pill taker but after getting on this combo, (needed a little bit of dose tweaking) I have to say that I have been better than I have been in over 5 years. I still keep my self in check with the breathing and water but use the Kardia to check my heart rate once a week and I am better than normal. I maybe have had 1 episode in 3 months and even it lasted only minutes not hours.
I have my life back and with NO surgery!!!
I am not saying that this will be your remedy but as I have learned from this forum I figure that someone may learn something from what I have had to do.
You say that you don’t want to take drugs but this afib is fickle and will have its way with you as it pleases if you do not show who is boss.
I wish you luck. May you find your fix.
I’m gonna be blunt. If you refuse to take drugs and you won’t have an ablation you are on a one way trip to nowhere.
I just had my second ablation last Wednesday, I had got to the stage that I had been in AF 97 times since July 2nd last year (2020) ranging from one hour to 16 hours and everything in between.
I have tried everything to control it but nothing works and to be honest when you think you found something that has made a difference it’s more likely to be the placebo effect more than anything else.
As I have said I have had two ablations and it is NOT anywhere near as daunting as you may think it’s going to be, if need be and I would have another one in a heartbeat (pun intended).
You need take drugs or have an ablation because that demon is going nowhere without one or the other..Trust me, I’ve had it on and off for 18 years and it only progresses. My advice is, try the drugs, if they don’t work get ablated, the risks are tiny.
I appreciate your position, but I also agree with those who suggest that an ablation is likely the way to go. I have had two ablations after having progressively worse AFIB over a ten-year period. I had tried several different medications and every supplement that I researched. My last episode landed me in the ER with an episode that lasted a week. My cardiologist at that point said that an ablation was the way to go if I didn’t want to live with an elevated stroke risk for the rest of my life. Note that I am likely an unusual case in that I had vagal AFIB (no heart problems) which the cardiologist and electrophysiologist had no idea what was triggering it. The first ablation stopped the AFIB but left me with a persistent elevated heat rate of 100+ bpm. The second ablation stopped this but left me with a condition where my heart rate can’t get over 90 bpm even under hard exercise. Overall, however, my quality of life has improved dramatically. I used to get the AFIB episodes in the middle of the night while sleeping so I dreaded going to bed. I avoided the ablation for two years, but in the end it made a huge improvement. I no longer take any medications including Eliquis. I think that if you are reasonably healthy, the ablation route is the one that is likely to make the greatest improvement. Remember that if your AFIB persists you will have a substantially higher stroke risk going forward. There are risks either way, but for me the ablation risk was lower than the stroke risk. My only other suggestion is to do your research and make sure you choose an electrophysiologist with extensive experience with whatever trigger is responsible for your type of AFIB.
One other comment about the 50/50 odds of success. This is generally true for the first ablation and is exactly what I experienced. The odds do improve pretty substantially if you have a second one. My cardiologist was also not keen on my having an ablation initially but once it became clear that the medications and supplements were not working, the ablation was the only real alternative.
My heart goes out to you, too, Angela. Yet I agree with DNL and the others. We need to be in charge of the AF or it can often take charge of us in nasty ways.
I was impressed with that posture/breathing tip. A great suggestion that makes sense.
I was never a heavy drinker, but now I drink zero alcohol. I have a cold organic grape juice for supper. Delicious and rarely miss the wine or beer. A very good quality coffee for breakfast, half decaf. I fill a huge mason jar with reverse osmosis water every day and drink it faithfully. I never skip my anticoagulant. Doing so could lead to a stroke.
I take magnesium supplements, too. I’ve like Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s video tapes (the cardiologist from the UK). He is gentle, helpful and encouraging about AF. I liked his video on magnesium, too.
I had an catheter ablation in mid 2019 and I would definitely have it again if need be -even though I was truly terrified the first time around. They said afterwards that I was the most frightened (just before they started) they had ever seen – I found that hard to believe. So natural to be nervous! The care was excellent and the person who did it was very experienced and meticulous.
Excellent studies prove that weight loss of even 10% of our current weight can make a huge difference. My atrium shrank to normal size after I lost just 15 lbs.
I believe I had a very bad episode in May 2020 simply b/c I had eaten too much at supper and ate too quickly, too. Foolish! I felt overfull and yucky even at 11 pm. An hour later, I woke at midnight with really bad AF. Had to call 911.
My best guess is that my vagus nerve was so pressured (and slowed) by this fullness that it triggered the AF. I have deliberately never ever done that again. I had 2 cardioversions in the middle of that night that unfortunately didn’t work. This was the first time that has happened, and then got drugs by IV x 4 hours. I was so afraid lying there thinking “What if my AF becomes persistent?” Finally I went into SR by 8am. They encouraged me in the ED to take Amiodarone for 1 year. My cardiologist later agreed. I was not happy to do so, but I take 100 mg of it every AM with my Eliquis. Feel great, never any AF symptoms. No side effects from the drug. Though I make sure not to have any supplement with iodine in it since Amiodarone has a lot of it in it.
Episode free since last May. Often now I don’t even wear my FitBit b/c of feeling so confident. Not that I don’t sometimes feel that quiet fear that we all know – What if it happens tonight? None of us much likes this club, right?
Reacting with stress and anger at Life can be triggers for many of us, too. Both are natural when life is pulling and pushing us hard in different directions. I think it’s useful to look at our own life situation in clear-eyed, new, and creative ways – especially when we have AF. I think many women can especially feel these pulls and pushes. It’s our nature to help people we love so much!
Dr. John Mandrola has a gentle and good article on how our AF is giving our bodies a message: “AFib is your body talking to you”. And he also believes that many of us AFibbers have our “foot on the gas” too much and too often. And then maybe, when we are overwhelmed, we then have an extra wine, don’t exercise, eat healthfully and/or forget to stay well hydrated?
AF is, I’ve come to slowly accept, a chronic condition of which I must be in charge – in certain concrete ways – especially when I AM NOT having an episode. As much as we would all love it, we can’t wish it away.
All the best everyone! Keep safe during this pandemic. Helen from Canada.
p.s. Thanks again, Travis, for this wonderful site.
To Helen, DNL Dave Wilson and Karl, Thank you so much for your replies. I had a whole comment ready to post and when I submitted it , it was erased because I forgot my email. I don’t want to rewrite everything right now, but I appreciate all your advice and telling me your ablation and medication experiences. All very helpful. I’m planning to try Vitamin C as there’s a lot of research saying it helps. I think Dave said many things are a placebo, and I agree that could be true, but I will still try what I can before I go ahead with an ablation. Thanks again and If I have time later I will write more that I had tried to post here a few moments ago! I hope Travis sees this and corrects that glitch. I hit the highlighted ‘back’ button and my comment was erased!
put your feet on ice pack and heartj good luck Jan.
I ran across this while looking through my past emails. I, too, had Afib for two years. It was unbearable, to say the least. I was afraid to have an ablation because of all the negative comments I read online. But let me tell you, after being tormented constantly with Afib, I decided to have an ablation in November, 2018. I have NOT had an episode since then!!! I’ve gone to my cardiologist only once and that was 6 months after the ablation for a follow up. I thank God every day (almost every day) for setting me free from Afib through ablation. I was 63 when I had the ablation. I am so glad I finally disregarded what I read and took a chance. A normal heartbeat is the sound of heaven. I suffered so much from Afib in those two years, and I am eternally grateful for a normal heartbeat. Pray and see what your heart is saying. Don’t be guided by fear. I wish you well.
Darlin, I have had this too. Started in 2018. So far, I have found that it’s all related to Vasal Vagal nerve and the throat, larangeal connection. Do you have thyroid problems, or possibly nodules growing on thyroid? I ask because, I have hypothyroidism and during EGD proceedure, the doctor found growth/nodes on thyroid right at laranx/throat/voice box. Around the time I started having constant heart palpitations, skipping heart beats, kick back heart beats into my throat, I suddenly lost half my voice, started suffering neck pain, severe dibilitating migraines that always felt like ear to ear full throttle ear aches from hell, not to forget the pounding eye stabbing dizziness, light sensativity and sound and movement torture that always accompanied these migraines, trouble swallowing, feeling like shortness of breath, coughing up fluids all day, sensation of something in throat, trouble swallowing. It is only now that we found nodules growth on thyroid and throat/laranx. Simple research reveals that the laranx is literally a part of the vasal vagal nerve. If this nerve is being irritated in any way, on a regular basis, it will cause heart to skip, have irregular beats, problems, which leads to anxiety. If you have been to cardiologist and if he/she sees your heart is normal and simply tells you to live with this skipping interference, and or offers pills to slow your heart rate or cardio ablation-which is literally burning dead parts of your heart, which amounts to LIFE LONG PERMANENT HEART DAMAGE, like mine did to me, run….. Check out your throat. Have ultrasound for throat, or exploratory EGD proceedure to see if your vasal vagal nerve in throat is completely normal. Could be thyroid growth interferring with your ability to function. Question….does your heart skip more frequently after eating a meal? If so, definitely check your throat. Growth nodes and or even slight minor growth deformities on throat, which is vasal vagal nerve for voice box, swallow reflex, thyroid connection, can also be hyper irritated by eating gluton. Even eating regular white bread trash can cause heart palpitations if you have this vasal vagal thyroid caused syndrome. Why? All of today’s bread is made using bromine, which is a chemical that depletes you of iodine, which is what’s needed for normal optimal thyroid function. Eating this will immediately signal interference with hormone production and regulation in thyroid and send emergency signal to vasal vagal nerve. Same happens when eating food products with gluton. Go to ear nose throat specialist and tell them all your symptoms and ask for exploration of throat, if you have experienced swallow issues here and there. Here’s what I mean….do you find that sometimes during a meal, when you go to swallow, it’s like your swallow muscles are weak? Do you have to swallow the same bite of food two to three or even four times, just to get it down, to not choke on your food. Do you recall having frontal neck pain, strange sensation of tightness or pressure across neck? Has this happened to you? Do you have to clear your throat often of fluids? Did you experience a voice change, loss of high pitch? Do you experience jaw pain and or ear pain, sensation of fluid build up in jaw/ear area? Do you have high pitched ear ringing? Does your heart skip/palpitate more when you lye down? Does your heart skip more after eating meals? This could be combination of GERD and growths at thyroid and laranx/voice box, which was caused by both possible underactive thyroid and LPR, which is silent GERD. Just some things to consider, some questions to ask yourself and some things you might want to bring up to doctor. Especially if you have symptoms I’ve described here. Even slight anxiety from some stress can absolutely trigger stomach to produce higher amounts of acids, which with GERD could trigger the gastric juices up into throat, which would irritate and cause inflammation in throat/laranx which would irritate vasal vagal nerve, and cause heart palpitations, the whole lot. Something to consider. I hope this helps someone out there looking for help. Taking pills to reduce your heart’s function to that of a 65+ old person, and or burning the flesh of your heart, killing parts of the heart is NOT the answer. The medical field is arrogant and still in the ‘dark ages’ in a lot of ways and few see this truth today. Research darlin. You have to fight for YOU.
Jolene, thank you so much for the detailed information. I have not been officially diagnosed with a-fib but everything you have described is exactly what I have been feeling for approximately 2 years. From the trouble swallowing to the constant fluttering after eating etc. My mother has had 2ablations and still constantly dealing with a-fib. . I have taken her to the hospital too many times to count. I don’t want to just be “band-aided” like they have done to her. They keep her in the hospital a day or so , give her lots of meds and send her home. Nothing really addressing the cause. I really appreciate your clear description and feel comforted knowing that there are potential underlying issues that could be contributing to this problem. Hopefully I can find a doctor that doesn’t dismiss me as crazy and just throw pills at me.
I can relate to this…after 2 ablations and positive test indicating a sound heart , l take bata blocker and calcium blockers and blood thinner, l still get af every 7 to 10 days lasting 12 to 24 hrs 125 bpm. My resting rate is 45 to 55 beats per minutes. DO YOU GET HICKUPS ?
What a great read – Iâ€™ll be sharing with my co-workers. This is appreciated!
Travis, Can u please respond or anyone else who might I have knowledge about this, I have not seen in any of the comments implanting a watchman as a cure for afib.. I have seen 2 cardiologists & 1 of them recommended this & the other 1 recommended an ablation. I would appreciate it, if anyone has anything they can tell me about the watchman. Also what is the best brand for a natural mixed vit E to take? Thanks to all Stay well!
The Watchman device is definitely NOT a cure, or even a treatment, for afib! All it does is essentially block off the left atrial appendage (aka LAA). When you are in AFIB, blood can pool and clot in this tiny little pouch. Then this clot can break away from the pouch and travel up to your brain and cause a stroke. The Watchman device is inserted into the LAA so it prevents blood from pooling and clotting inside of it. It essentially creates a “wall”. You can learn more about it here:
Given what the Watchman does, it does nothing to stop or treat AFIB. It essentially treats a side effect, or symptom of AFIB, which is blood potentially pooling in the LAA because the heart isn’t beating properly. It has zero impact on your AFIB.
An ablation, on the other hand, is an actual treatment for AFIB because if it’s successful, it stops AFIB. The goal of an ablation is to stop AFIB in its tracks so that your heart beats normally. If you don’t have AFIB, you don’t have blood pooling or clotting in the LAA. I had an ablation myself over 5 years ago now and have been AFIB-free ever since. Because I’m not in AFIB, I have no risk of stroke – or at least no risk of AFIB-related stroke:)
As for vitamin E, I take Carlson’s E Gems exclusively:
I hope this helps!
Hi Travis, out of interest did your Afib stop straight away after your ablation. The reason i ask is I had an ablation three weeks ago and I am still in and out of Afib every few days. I believe the ablation can take up to thee months before it has the full effect. So I was wondering how it went for you?
Thanks in antisipation.
Hi there! Has anyone who has been fully stable after a successful atrial ablation felt somewhat less stable since all this horrible C19 stuff has been going on?
These days I sometimes get a brief odd feeling in my chest, along with 1-2 seconds of light-headedness, but it goes with a brisk cough.
And unfortunately, I’ve had 2 AF episodes in the past 6 weeks.
On March 12, I woke up ~11pm with a full blown episode. I was extra fearful b/c I had a sore throat at the time and had thot, “What if it’s C19?” That was quite an awful episode and I went to the ED after only an hour. The staff reassured me that I did not have the virus. The episode resolved on its own within 2 hrs.
Last night, I suddenly woke up feeling rather rattled after 2 hrs of sleeping and I knew right away it was AF – but this time, I slowly got up and I resolved to calmly and deliberately focus on Travis’ Stop AFib strategies. Thankfully, within 20 min it was gone. All was OK afterwards.
I know the stress/meditation reduction strategies etc very well – but I don’t always use them. It’s so hard right now not to feel deep sorrow and even some depression. To say nothing of outright fear. I feel that not so much for ourselves (though dying of C19 is not the way I prefer myself or my husband to experience), but fear for our family, our community and the entire world! e.g. Our dtr-in-law is a registered nurse working in a busy Toronto hospital and I esp feel fear for her and our son. I also feel concern for all of those people who have to be “out there” making life better for the rest of us who are able to shelter at home. My 2nd fear is that if I needed to go to the ED now with an episode, that it sounds very risky vis-à-vis becoming infected. Of course, I’d wear a mask, but we know their efficacy isn’t anywhere near to 100%.
I have been searching out “Coping with AF + Covid 19”, but haven’t had much luck. I wonder how the rest of you are coping at this time? Have you come across any good links re this topic?
One of the other pertinent issues for me right now is that I have foolishly gained 5 lbs in the past 6 weeks. I know better and I firmly decided last evening that this MUST stop and now. And that daily meaningful exercise needs again to be a part of my daily routine – just as much as doing “curbside ordering/shopping”, emailing, sanitizing, doing laundry and cooking suppers – in spite of raw and chilly Southern Ontario, Canada days.
Stay well. Stay home if you can! Here’s to hope and courage for the world! Thanks for your time. Helen.
Helen, I hope you’re feeling better about things now and that your symptoms are better! For me I would say I have had way more episodes this past year than the previous, plus other very unusual health symptoms I never had before! I don’t know if it’s the stress or if something else is in the air. My hairdresser’s husband is an EMT Fireman and she told me that at least the past several months, the maladies that people are having are extremely unusual, including a woman who actually died from choking on a cracker! Most people wouldn’t die and he thought that was so bizarre. I’m sure he’s seen a lot. All I can say is that we need to look to God in these times, and I hope everyone does in these perilous days!
Is it dangerous to add magnesium and potassium supplements .What is a good amount?
Hi Joyce, I found Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s You Tube on magnesium very helpful. He’s the young one who works in the U.K. not the older famous one in the U.S.
I like that the young Dr. Gupta he’s a cardiologist and that he isn’t selling anything. I take 300 mg of Mag Citrate every evening.
My specialist advised me not to take a potassium supplement. Not sure why. Several common foods do contain potassium, but the stated daily requirements are very high! I doubt that many people can achieve that level each day unless they focussed every day on potassium-containing foods!
Hi . I am taking mag. omega3 and potassium for my fib .Since I started mag. I saw a big difference. I still sometimes get a fib wondering what causes it. The last one I had was a scary experience that still keeps me on edge. I walk up with a fib . After about 8 hours in a fib, I tried to move heavy furniture for maybe 5 seconds I took a drink of water then I fell to the floor almost pst out, luckily I was wearing a monitor which showed my heart dropped for a short while to 7 beats a minute and then went back to sinus, Does anyone have any explanation…It is keeping me on edge
After my Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) diagnoses. After a while my condition got worse again with severe shortness of breath and angina, so i started on a natural CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE (CAD) TREATMENT from Herbal Health Point, the herbal treatment was very effective treating my heart condition and the shortness of breath. I had a total decline in symptoms. Visit their web page w w w. herbalhealthpoint. c o m. Its been 2 years since the treatment, I do lots of walking and lost some weight. My daughter also used their CHF product for her congestive heart failure, very effective.
Trying to make my own salt substitute. Dehydrated tomato, orange, lemon, carrot, red pepper, paprika, Tellicherry black pepper. Got any ideas? Suggestions more than welcome.
Try using lime. I have heard it is a great substitute for salt.
When I first got a-fib and went into emergency they wouldn’t let me eat anything, not even ice. Months later when I would have an a-fib episode (and stayed at home rather than go into emergency) I tried doing the opposite of what they had me do in the hospital. I had a big meal and watched a movie. Bingo…my a-fib stopped. I believe it was because I was completely distracted (by the movie) and relaxed (by the meal). So in summary, anything to get your mind off the a-fib episode.
I had an ablation in Feb 2017 for my AFib. All has been good up until last Thurs. I turned my head and boom i felt my heart instantly go into AFIB. It was like this for the last four days. My heart rate was hovering around the 120 bmp, nothing compared to the 170’s – 180’s it used to get up to prior to the ablation. This morning i decided to try exercising on my treadmill to see if i could convert it back. I walked briskly then jogged alternately for 15 mins, then did 10 minutes on the recumbent bike. Within half an hour my heart rate was down to 100 and out of AFib. Just wondering on average how long has ablation been successful for other Afib readers?
My daughter is 19yrs and experienced an afib after 2am today, she gets alerts on her Apple Watch ⌚️ and she saves the readings on her phone. she had a successful pda procedure when she was 5yrs. The afibs only occur at nights, doctors performed an ecg having reviewed the data from her phone, afterwards it is recommended that she do yoga and light exercises to strengthen her heart muscles and her chest wall. I want this discomforting experience gone, I’m tired o her suffering
Check for sleep Apnea . It`s one of the biggest causes of Afib.
i have had afib for 3 years now– have tried everything– beta blockers– diet and constant calls to the doctor– finally feel like other people know what it is like to deal with this– learned quite a bit thanx
Thanks for the article Travis.
I showed this to my cardiologist and he said some of these are SVT-related versus A-fib related. For example, he said the valsalva maneuver is for SVT, not A-fib.
I think, to be clear, you need to separate the two.
Thanks for the clarification. However, I have heard from many afibbers who have tried the valsalva maneuver with success to end an afib episode. Doing the maneuver during an afib episode isn’t going to hurt. Worse case scenario it just won’t convert you, but if you’re in an episode it’s worth a try!
Sites like this can be dangerous. Old wife’s tales abound with all sorts of treatments. Atrial fibrillation often comes and goes spontaneously no matter what you do. Medical treatments should be given by electrophysiologist.
Thanks for taking the time to leave your comments. Based on your comments, I’m guessing you are a doctor, nurse, or someone in the medical profession.
What specifically makes this site “dangerous?” Have you read through this website? I don’t think you have. I question whether you have even read this article you left comments on. Everything outlined in this article highlights simple (and harmless) things that people can try to stop an afib episode – nothing more, nothing less. There is no “medical treatment” given in this article.
I will also add that I am not a doctor. I make that clear throughout this website. I’m an afib patient that is simply trying to help other people with afib. I’m extremely careful about the information I provide on this website to ensure I’m not playing doctor or putting people in danger.
I appreciate you stopping by and leaving your comments. Have a good one!
P.S. I also agree with your comment that afib often comes and goes no matter what you do. This article is about things you can try to stop an afib episode – not to prevent afib from happening in the first place. Throughout my website I often opine that I believe at a certain point afib will come and go no matter what you do which is why I am a big proponent of having an ablation by an expert EP:)
My husband recently had aFib symptoms – but tests couldn’t pick it up – Apple Watch 5 tracks heart rate has EKG monitor and saves to your phone! Star of the process. 30 day monitor picked up some activity.
Every time – he has not
Had enough fluids!
Also – electrolytes – I have powdered propel (sugar free), smart water etc. waiting to see if he can get prescription potassium supplement.
I’m sure there are other factors – 2 out of 3 episodes were on hot humid days – once golfing; once cleaning garage – symptoms subsided after two large glasses of water with propel!
Another time – we were flying home from LV and his watch went off. He decided not to drink anything prior to boarding – didn’t want to have to use plane restroom – unbelievable!
Got water and episode passed ( I got him an aisle seat). Why are people soooo stubborn??????
After about 13 hr in hospital my a-fib converted to sinus. They first tried 2 doses of Co-vert that did not work. They were anticipating to do shock conversion. Based on the timing of my conversion, I suspect the following:
Since I was a bit nauseous and with headache, I tried to induce vomiting. I did not bring up anything, but I did induce the stomach spasm of vomiting. I am thinking that this spasm may have converted the a-fib. The doc said that it was not the co-vert administered so many hours earlier.
I’ve had a sudden onset afib on and off for about 6 years. I tried lots of things to get it to stop: Emergency rooms, metoprolol, flecainide, etc.
I learned about 2 years ago that a modified valsalva maneuver will stop it in its tracks…
I take an extremely deep, deep chest breath, But I DO NOT bear down. Hold the breath with just my diaphragm. Hold it for about 8-12 seconds, (its hard to do that long), then let it out in its own speed. Bingo… might take one or two, but I go sinus in an instant. It seems to work better when I’m somewhat reclining on my left side.
I have made a few lifestyle changes: no beer or fizzy sodas, not eating late at night. I have an episode about once a month or so, but it only lasts as long until I can do my “procedure”. I might have to name it as I’ve never heard of it being mentioned. Maybe The “MJ Move”!
My son is an emergency room MD, and he said he’s used it on a few patients and works really well. But he still prefers to stick to the protocols he was taught.
You are a genius!
I have been struggling with an episode for last 6 hours, tried your method once and worked a charm!
Although I have figured out myself about trying to stop breathing for a bit and it worked most of time, but required multiple tries, and was very hard to do even for few seconds. But after putting my diaphragm to work and reclining on left side made it a miracle cure!
Thanks a lot!!!
The MJ method :))
In the early 80’s my cardiologist taught me carotid massage and it can convert your PSVT, PAT, AFIB, with little or no risk involved. Ask your cardiologist to teach you How to do this properly.
It might be wise to not discount dietary shock from triggering an afib event. Before I managed to find methods to bring my afib under control it seemed as though I would trigger an event buy eating a bag of salted peanuts o a huger brine cured pickle or consuming a very large and sweet mango. I stopped the shocks by avoiding the foods and reduced the episodes about by 2/3rds. It’s worth a try. And after a course in the school of hard knock I too am a believer in adequate water intake. At least 3 quarts a day.
I should add to my history that I lived with 2nd degree heart block (one nerve bundle branch remaining). Then, one day I showed up at the ER with a pulse of 41. My BP was taken immediately. 95/57. Difficult to stand upright and exhausting to walk across the ER parking lot. Car to car, hanging on.
It’s not reassuring to be immediately wheeled into an ER treatment slot and have someone shout “ER Crash Cart! ER Crash Cart STAT!”
But the visit brought me a 5 day stay. A dual chamber pacemaker, and a huge reduction in cardiac medications. I have noted in the 13 months subsequent — my pulse is often a 70, the setting of the pacemaker, and sometimes after a poor night’s sleep the pulse increases to 120. I do not suffer the weakness that sometimes overcame me (even with a pulse oximeter reading of a hundred or less).
But having been hospital diagnosed with severe deficiency of blood magnesium I still take a 500mg supplement every 2nd or 3rd day.
I note that I still suffer bouts of slightly thumping and irregular heartbeats but I feel much better. Without question when my BiPAP machine broke down in Mexico my heartbeat (and feeling of fatigue) fared poorly. But no Afib events and the day after I rebuilt the Positive Breathing machine everything returned to “normal”.
Active participation in controlling heart arrhythmia to me, is essential. Some folks throw responsibility entirely into the hands of their medical professional and to me that is one of the biggest mistakes an individual can make. Salt and sugar control, whining and begging for blood electrolytes to be taken and results given to me is an essential part of my modus operendi.
Please add in some electrolytes. A large amount of water can flush them. Propel, smart water or something similar
I wanted to add another thing to this article. First off, I’m a 19 year old male and have had random afib episodes since high school. I am getting a cryoablation next week. I just had an episode yesterday and did all the maneuvers the doc told me plus the ones on here. None worked but they did help me relax. I was with my girlfriend at the time. I say this in all respect and sincerity; try having sex. After me and my girlfriend had sex, my heart converted back to normal sinus and I felt great. It may not work every time, but it’s worth a try. This is the first time I had sex during an afib episode and surprisingly it worked. Hopefully, this can help someone else as well!
Thanks for the tip! I’m not surprised that having sex help convert you. Some afibbers are able to convert to normal sinus rhythm with exercise. So for those of you reading Austin’s tip if sex isn’t an option simple exercise can sometimes do the trick as well.
What is your girlfriend’s name (and number)?
I get exhausted from walking to the mailbox. Is coreg or cardizem better for rate control?
At 62 I went into menopause and developed numerous medical issues. Afib was one plus autoimmune diseases. For about 3 years I was on a blood thinner and a beta blocker. Then I went to a specialist. He took me off everything until I hit 70. My afib was infrequent and I never knew I was having an episode. I went on a blood thinner and had bleeding episodes and stopped.
After the last three years of severe stress I have nonstop afib. They can’t get it to stop with blood thinners multaq and shock. It will stop for maybe 38 hours. What do I do now? It’s 94 beats I don’t think they can do any more shock treatment. I will try all your suggestions before I see the doctor again.
You might want to consider having an ablation since the drugs and shock treatments are not working. An ablation will be your best shot at stopping the afib. I wish you well.
Hello Travis, Just wanted to asked a few questions in regards to afib. I,ve had this for about 1.5 years; I have messaged you before about afib. I don’t know what kind of afib I have I do know it’s not from a heart damage or a valves. I used to get bouts of it very often when first dignoised lasting anywhere from 4 to 6 hours and many times during the week. I am on xaltro blood thinners once a day and metoprolol 25mg twice a day. I have sleep apnea; a digestive hernia and need to loose over 100 pounds. I use my sleep apnea machine every night, hired a wholistic dietitian. I have lost about 15 pounds and take magnesium daily now and did some live style changes in my eating. I have not had a afib episode in 6 month with the exception of 2 times. One when I was on holidays and we were on a tour bus on very bumpy roads and bad shocks I went into afib, lasted 10 minuets and stop about 5 minutes after the bus stopped. The second incident happened when I was bending over and not bending my knees for an extended period of time, as soon as I put myself upright and relaxed for 10 minutes it reset and was beating regular. The only other thing I noticed now if I do get irregular heart beats. But my heart rate is low… my resting heart rate is 54 bpm. Is it normals to have arrhythmia/irregular heart beats. Second question is could my Afib be caused by my digestive hernia? I have done many life style changes in regard to what and how I eat that have been positive for no afib issues. When I brought this up to my cardiologist he says no, my digestive hernia is not a factor but I do believe it is. Do you know of any research in regards to this. Thank you
P.S. My cardiologist sent me to an EP to discuss ablation last March. I am still of mixed minds about it. The health style choices seem to be working really well for now. For as I said in my previous post, no episodes for 7 months.
But, what concerns me a lot is that here in Canada that if one goes to a teaching hospital to have an afib ablation, the resident(s) will also take part in the catheter work, too. “After all, we are a teaching hospital”, the doctors all say.
And yes, residents must learn, but must they learn on me? How does one get that highly skilled and experienced EP to solely do the actual procedure, someone who has done many hundreds? Here in my area (close to Toronto), the best EP’s are associated only with teaching hospitals. And thanks, Travis, yours is a super article.
I always tell people with afib to try lifestyle changes first. It only makes sense to do so. The truth is, MOST people will get relief from their afib burden just by losing weight, eating better, sleeping better, etc.
However, I have found that most people do not experience a lifetime of relief from lifestyle changes alone. That is where I disagree with Dr. Mandrola. He seems to think you can cure afib by just losing a lot of weight and being “healthy.” It’s not that simple. Afib is far more complex than that.
What I tell people to do is spend 6-12 months making hardcore lifestyle changes and see how things go. If you’re able to significantly reduce your afib burden as a result, stick with it for as long as you can. But if your afib gets worse despite those efforts, then it’s time to consider having an ablation by an expert EP!
I feel for people that live in Canada because they have limited choices in who they can be treated by. And as you’ve pointed out, a lot of the hospitals in Canada are teaching hospitals so finding an elite EP is next to impossible to find. Truth be told, most Canadians I talk to that want to be treated “by the best” come to the U.S. and pay cash for their ablations. If you pay cash for an ablation in the U.S. it’s about $40,000.
I wish you the best!
I have paroxysmal AF. Healthy, active 77-yr old woman. I like these suggestions and they do work. I also have been wearing a Fitbit for the past several months and when I feel myself rushing around too much, or with my “foot on the gas” too much, I check my HR. Sure enough, often well over 100.
I stop – take a deep breath in through the nose, breathe out slowly with pursed lips, and relax my shoulders. I basically use it as a biofeedback tool. As well, I NEVER become dehydrated, no matter how rushed or busy I am. I always have water with me. I have stopped all alcohol. At least I can have coffee (half high test)!
I have read a great deal by Dr. John Mandrola, cardiologist and electrophysiologist. His articles and blog have helped me a lot and I feel much more positive and empowered. He pushes healthy lifestyle choices as the 1st line of defense for afib treatment. He and others have stated that if we lose just 10% of our current weight, that AF symptoms might fade or go away. I have slowly lost 15 lbs in the past few months. No episodes in 7 months. Touch wood!
I am 83 and other than my HEART, I am in great health. HA!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am in Mexico all winter each winter and we have a ambulance group called, rescate. I think it is rescue in Spanish.
I went there on my own when I had my last episode and they let me lie there on oxygen for about an hour then it went right back into rhythm. I am not always that lucky. They even went to the store and bought me a banana and they had potassium pills. I now carry potassium pills and a couple of Magnesium as well. Putting a banana in my purse when I leave the house also. Thanks!
Glad to hear they were able to restore your heart rate! Potassium and magnesium are definitely an afibber’s best friend!
I was looking for a response by Karl dated May 16, but did not find it posted as yet. I wholeheartedly support what Karl said. I have had paroxysmal A-fib due to hypothyroid since 2014. I have not had an attack since last September after I started the recommendations of Dr. Sherry Rogers, MD (renowned and highly respected author on heart health and environmental toxins), eight months ago.
I have been on D-Ribose, Taurine, Arginine, Acetyl Carnitine and Glycine Powders, CoQ10 and natural vitamin E with all 8 parts. For 6 months now and I feel a tremendous improvement in my heart function. I have had no A-Fib. I think A-Fib patients, as recommended by Karl, should first work on improving their heart nutrients before going with ablation. There is extensive research that show the combination of d-alpha tocopherol and gamma tocopherol , two components of natural vitamin E, work extremely well together to stop A-Fib.
Travis: Although I personally do not like the concept of ablation for myself, I will stay informed by reading all updates on it on your site. At the moment, I am not a candidate for ablation. Everyone is different. I am very grateful for this web site. Thanks again, Travis, for all your work.
Low magnesium is the leading cause of A Fib. A patient MUST have an RBC magnesium level checked, not SERUM level. The higher the serum level, the lower the red blood cell level is. Only 1% of magnesium is in the blood. The rest is cellular. I meant to add this to my post above. I recommend a fib patientg read Sherry Rogers MD Is Your Cardiologist Killing You, available on amazon.com for about $10 used. Wonderful book.
Thanks again for your contributions to this blog. I appreciate you sharing your experiences and perspectives.
I agree with you that all afibbers should work on diet and lifestyle factors first and foremost. However, if after 6 months or so of adhering to a healthy diet (with the appropriate vitamins and supplements), moderate exercise, and various lifestyle changes you still have a-fib then it’s time to strongly consider having an ablation. For many afibbers, particularly in the early stages of afib, these changes can do wonders and can keep afib at bay for a while (for some that might be many years). However, for those people with advanced a-fib or those who have a genetic predisposition to afib, these changes often times aren’t enough.
I’ve had A-Fib for 2 years , had my first attack in 18 months last month , I had to go to ER twice in three days , meds got my rythum reset to normal . I then asked my cardiologist about having Ablation surgery to stop the attacks , and my cardiologist told me that ablation surgery is not a permanent cure for A- Fib , it may work for a short term , but does not last forever.. how effective is Ablation surgery ?? When the pills stop working , what is the next best thing to do ?
You need to find another cardiologist! An ablation is your ONLY shot at putting afib to rest for good. Drugs are NEVER a long-term solution. Please contact me directly via my contact page and I can help you out.
Even with my success with a nutritional / lifestyle approach to managing my AFIB, I completely concur with your comments on ablation. I was seriously considering having it done until I went on my current drug and supplement regimen. Prior to that my AFIB episodes all terminated on their own in typically about eight hours. Afterwards, however, I was completely wiped (shortness of breath, fatigue, sleep) for a day afterwards. Given that my episodes were becoming weekly events, there was no way that I was going to live with the risks when ablation was an option (especially since I am still relatively young – 60 – and in good shape). So, yes Travis, I completely agree that if the supplement / lifestyle / medication route doesn’t work, find a good EP and have the ablation. The improvement in quality of life is worth the risk and inconvenience.
I have had ASTHMA my whole life but about 7 years ago my asthma got so bad and was diagnosed of EMPHYSEMA/COPD which was most likely due to the asthma. I was on double antibiotics and steroids, still didn’t feel any better. My lungs were constantly wheezing in all four chambers. I already used Advair, Spiriva, and Albuterol in my nebulizer. They just didn’t do much.
April 2016 my sister in-law told us about Rich Herbs Foundation where she ordered herbs that effectively treated her arthritis. We ordered their COPD herbal treatment after reading a lot of positive reviews. I am happy to report this COPD herbal treatment reversed my lung condition. My quality of life has greatly improved and every one of my symptoms including difficulty breathing and wheezing are gone.
I will be 52 soon and have never been healthier!
I am 52 and have had afib for about 1 year. I was put on metoprolol 50mg. I take this at bedtime. I am averaging about 1 attack each month. I take another metoprolol and can get out of it in a few hours. My new EP cardiologist wants to put me on 50 mg of flecainide. I haven’t started this yet because the side effects look terrible. I wonder if I just need to suggest that I take 2 of the metoprolol instead?
Awesome! I had a 2nd episode that started yesterday. Beta blocker at 25mg currently (was at 50mg for a few weeks after first episode) and baby aspirin are my regimen. I just now took another beta blocker (starts with M) and aspirin in hopes that it will get rid of this episode. On my way to the store to get the food items indicated in the article. So glad to find you! I bet lots of folks are very grateful for the info :)
I’m glad you find the site helpful! I wish you well.
I’ve discovered this site a few weeks ago and it brings so much closure. I was diagnosed with a-fib 3 years ago. Since I’m young I haven’t really paid too much attention to it and thought it was an “ehhh” thing until recently. I’ve had several a-fib attacks, 2 which I was hospitalized for.
I recently started paying more attention to it and following up with my cardiologist after the last episode I had that came randomly. It lasted about an hour I want to say, which is the longest it’s lasted. My heart rate was so high, about 190 and I could feel the fluttering. It’s such a nerve racking feeling in the moment.
I stopped eating junk food, cut out my sodium intake by a lot, and stopped eating out as much so I make my own meals with no salt added. I carefully watch what I eat now. I was diagnosed with Paroxysmal a-fib so it comes and goes. Right now I’m taking Metoprolol 12.5Mg since 25MG lowers my blood pressure a lot. I’m also on Aspirin 325MG both once a day in the morning.
My life can get sometimes stressful and I am an anxious person so I know those two things I need to work on. I have had some fluttering for about 3 seconds here and there after my discharge from the hospital but I believe my stress plays a role in that. I’m so glad I ran into this site.
I also started having afib episodes when I was quite young. Maybe my second year of college and then they stopped altogether for years. I’m 33 now and the frequency and intensity of the episodes peaked a couple of years ago. I started seeing a cardiologist then who gave me metoprolol to take on an as-needed basis, and ordered that I come in for a check up every six months.
Shortly after this I started running and doing yoga very regularly and my episodes spaced out from every four to six weeks to now maybe two to three times a year.
The last two episodes I had I took a few deep breaths and then started doing some basic yoga…cat/cow, child’s pose, downward dog, and the episode stopped both times within two to four minutes. Absolutely incredible!
My episodes lasted 10 minutes or so in the very beginning and at their peak over two hours with my HR reaching well over 200bpm. The yoga seems to stop them almost instantly.
I discovered this after a terrible morning episode. The episode ended but my HR stayed slightly elevated all day until I got on my mat and did a yoga practice that evening. I checked my HR after finishing my practice and it was finally back in the 70s, so the next time I felt an episode come on, I tried yoga and it worked. Now, my last two episodes have been six months apart and both were stopped by yoga. Never even had to take the metoprolol!
I’m not sure if this is a thing, but nothing I’ve ever tried has been this effective. Hope it can help someone else!
Thanks for sharing your experience with yoga in managing your afib. That’s so awesome to hear it’s working so well for you.
Can you share the specific type of yoga you practice? Better yet, can you also share the specific yoga poses/exercises that you do?
I’m a 62 year-old female with A-Fib. I usually never know when I’m in it but these last 2 days have been nonstop and I’m getting nervous. I’m on coumadin, toprol xl and digoxin. I’m just hoping this will stop. I don’t believe I need to go to the hospital since I do take these meds. I called my doctor and he just left. I will try him again tomorrow.
How are you doing today? Were you able to get a hold of your doctor? I hope you’re doing better.
Listen, I AM AFIB FREE NOW! I was in AFIB every other day lasting 8 to ten hours a day. I TOOK DILTIAZEM when needed for them. Was on Pradaxa and getting ready for ablation. Nothing helped or stopped them. I found my key and believe this needs to be shared. I am now med free and only take a low dose aspirin daily with no AFIB in weeks. I am on the keto diet, which is delicious and I have cut out all sugars and ALL sodium and anything that has it. I eat fresh meats, veges, nuts after I cut out salt I have been AFIB free! Please experiment for a few days eating unprocessed foods with zero sodium, you will be amazed! You can use seasoning with NO SODIUM
Thank you, I am at my wit’s end with this afib! I have had my heart reset 4 times and I have had the ablation surgery and still have major episodes. I have got to make major changes to my diet and soon. I’m 57 and still have at least 10 years before retirement. I have to keep on keeping on.
Regarding your comment about having an ablation and still having “major” episodes after the fact, you may be interested in this article:
It costs almost zero to try and straighten out electrolyte imbalance. Magnesium is inexpensive, a banana is cheap, and eliminating excess salt is crucial. Somewhere I seem to recall reading an article that suggests the average diet contains 10x the amount of sodium needed. If you’ve ever been on a treatment table for afib you’ll notice your blood sugar is checked. I am convinced a person can shovel down an ounce of medications and a combination of electrolyte imbalance, massive quantities of salt (electrolyte) and out of control blood sugar would negate 90% of the benefits of the medications. Secondarily, strokes are unforgiving. At a minimum get a pulse oximeter and regardless of how I feel a racing pulse in combination with an abnormally low O2 saturation means get to an ER fast. One slug of coagulated blood and the fat lady might start singing. It just isn’t worth it. For me, stubborn AF meant dosages of Amiodarone and that is one medicine that may take a week to start working. Controlling AFIB is just as much the patient’s responsibility as it is the cardiologist’s. I was fortunate and stopped AFIB with cheap magnesium. But it was not enough. I tossed the sodium, tightly controlled the glucose, and surprise of surprises — heart arrhythmia has now went the way of the passenger pigeon. Yes the pacemaker helped. Yes diet control helped even more.
My first AFib attack was last April in the middle of the night. I went to the ER and after about 1 hour I converted on my own. I saw my cardiologist (I live in Minneapolis) and we decided to do nothing at that point.
I have seen an EP at the same practice before for palpitations etc. and I have an appointment with him coming up in February.
Today I woke up at 6:15 and had my 2nd A-fib attack. I wasn’t as nervous but started to prepare things around the house in case I had to go to the hospital. I have a dog that needs care. I took a short walk. I took an atenolol 25mg (I usually take 12.5 mg at bedtime for palps). Then I laid down and did some deep breathing.
At around 8:15 a.m. I was out of afib. I felt awful all day from the meds and my heart was pretty irritable (lots of little palps and runs). Previously the cardiologist had said if I had another afib bout I could stay home for about 4 or five hours in a-fib before going to the hospital. After this bout today, right now, we are going to stay the course and keep my appointment in Feb with my EP.
2 questions: First, do afib bouts keep getting closer together or are they truly random? Second, I’m nervous about going to sleep as both events happened at night. I am pretty sure there is absolutely nothing I can do about that. I have stopped laying on my left side. I don’t know anything else to do at night.
I am racking my brain to figure out what caused the episode last night just like the first episode. I cannot come up with anything. I do have anxiety and my life is pretty stressful most of the time but there was not anything usual before either of these bouts. Last night I had a lot of sugar as my sister sent me Christmas cookies! That is the only thing out of the ordinary that could have caused this. Is it worth wasting the time trying to figure out a cause?
Thank you so much,
Hello to a fellow Minnesotan. I live just North of Minneapolis!
To answer your questions afib is unique to everyone but the randomness of afib is its hallmark. That’s what’s so nerve wracking about it. It’s often unpredictable. The frequency of the episodes can be random as well. You may have a period where you have several episodes over a period of days and weeks and then total silence for days and weeks. And for many, afib progresses to persistent afib where you are in an episode for a week or more at a time and can’t convert to normal sinus rhythm on your own. When does this progression happen? Again, it’s random. Some may will progress in weeks – others in years (and yet others never).
I totally understand your fear about going to bed. Getting afib at night is totally common.
There are a couple things you can talk to your doctor about. Since you mostly get your episodes at night you likely have “vagal afib” which is afib that mostly occurs at rest and/or at night (or after eating). This type of afib does not respond well to beta blockers. In fact, beta blockers can make it worse (for some people – not all). As such, I would talk to your doctor about NOT taking a beta blocker. Here are some links on the subject:
Instead, I would talk to your doctor about Flecainide. This is usually the best drug for vagal afibbers. Furthermore, I would ask about taking it as a “pill-in-the pocket” – meaning you only take it when you have an episode.
Finally, if you have undiagnosed sleep apnea that could be an issue. Many people with afib have sleep apnea. If you have it and you treat it you can often times reduce the frequency and severity of your afib episodes. Here is an article I wrote about the sleep apnea/afib connection:
I wish you well!
Boy, you got that right they are totally unpredictable and you can be in the best of health and still have A-Fib. I had been having episodes maybe 1 or 2 a year for the last few years. My episodes got closer which prompted me to mention it to my doctor in August when I went for my yearly physical. I wore a monitor for one month.
I had an episode at 11 pm the first night I wore the monitor. It lasted 11 hours and I didn’t have another until the day I took the monitor back. The monitor showed I had paroxysmal A-fib. I went to a cardiologist in October 2017 and I was diagnosed with A-fib. It just so happened I had an episode in the doctor’s office. He order a stress test for Dec 14. The test showed no blockage anywhere, heart looked good.
The cardiologist put me on 25mg metoprolol twice daily to slow heart rate and 325 mg aspirin daily. Mind you I had 2 CHADS against me. I was female and 65. No other issues. I had a physical done in August. My stats were excellent. My cardiologist cautioned that people who have A-Fib are at risk for a stroke. Jan 1, 2018 I had a cerebellar stroke. I am blessed it only affected my balance. I am in therapy for my dizziness and vertigo issues.
While in the hospital my metoprolol was cut down to 12.5 twice daily due to taking my blood pressure way down and a blood thinner was added (Eliquis) 5 mg twice daily. Since having my stroke I have had short bouts of A-fib which didn’t seem to concern my cardiologist or primary care doctor. Today, early morning I went into a-fib and as I write this I still am. I couldn’t have therapy this morning because of it. I go back to the cardiologist in April. I will see what he says.
For those who say cut out sodium and processed foods, I don’t eat processed foods, salt, sugar and eat only healthy fats.
Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad to hear you survived your stroke and are doing o.k. Keep us posted on what your doctor says in April. Be well in the meantime!
Cut out SODIUM!!! I am now AFIB FREE! I had very severe AFIB! No meds helped, I was on pradaxa a blood thinner and diltiazem when I had an episode. I follow the keto diet, cut out sugars, and SODIUM from your diet. Once I stopped eating sodium, I have not had another episode! It’s been weeks! Nearly everything has sodium. Try it for a few days!!! It’s a trigger for AFIB
Thanks for sharing your experience! I appreciate it. However, I want to caution anyone else reading this that we are all different so what works for Marla may not work for you. In other words, for some of us simply reducing sodium may not make a difference at all. In fact I think there is more going on with Marla’s success. I doubt it’s just the reduction of sodium that is helping. Her overall change in diet is what’s working right now.
I want to point this out because I don’t want someone reading this to think all they have to do is reduce sodium and they’ll be cured. It doesn’t work that way.
P.s. Marla – I’m going to make a copy of this comment and put it on my blog post about diets for afib as I think your story will be inspirational. Thanks!
On Metoprolol 25mgs (2x daily) and 15mg Xarelto once daily. My afib symptoms are not relieved by this protocol. I feel worse now than I did before meds were prescribed. Metoprolol seems to control my heart rate and my blood pressure doesn’t rise too high during episodes (around 150/80) at times. Sometimes BP and HR are quite normal during an episode, but I still have frequent episodes.
I believe I definitely have vagal nerve involvement and must convince my dr. since beta blockers shouldn’t be prescribed for this kind of AFib I’ve learned. I stopped taking all my former supplements because of the limitations of the blood thinner. I’d like to know what supplements are most compatible with Xarelto.
I’ve started taking Magnesium again which I took before going on Metoprolol and Xarelto. I’d like to add vitamin D, omega 3, potassium, but Xarelto does not mention the use of any of these supplements as beneficial or detrimental with respect to a blood thinner, and I’m afraid to take them but fear I’m possibly missing out of any benefit I may derive with respect to my AFib.
My age makes me hesitate getting ablation since I’ve had it many years and apparently it is not as successful in my age group and for those who’ve had it for several years. Possibly risky as well?
As far as I know (and you’ll want to do your own research to confirm this), there isn’t any contradictions of vitamin D or potassium with Xarelto. Omega 3 (i.e. fish oils) does thin the blood and that one you’ll want to be careful with. When I was taking Eliquis I cut my omega 3 down to two capsules per day, which was about 2g of fish oil per day. My good friend, Steve Ryan of a-fib.com, wrote a brief article about taking krill oil (a type of omega 3) and Xarelto together. You can read it here: http://a-fib.com/faqs-minerals-supplements-krill-oil-with-eliquis/
Eliquis and Xarelto are the same type of blood thinner. They are a NOAC (Novel Oral Anticoagulants), a Direct Factor Xa Inhibitor.
As to your comment about being too old for an ablation, that’s not true at all. However, you’d want to make sure you go to the most experienced EP you can find. Less experienced EPs will probably tell you you’re too old because they don’t have the skills and confidence to help you! An experienced EP, one that has experience doing ablations on complex cases of afib, will have the skills and confidence to bring you relief!
In your response to Christine on 12/19/17, you stated “when I was taking Eliquis….” Do you still take Eliquis? I am on the drug, and I really wish not to be. The expense is outrageous, and I feel the same way now as when I was just taking an aspirin a day.
How did you stop taking it? A gradual weaning, or an abrupt quit?
My GP won’t support my request to drop Eliquis. I think it’s a matter of not contradicting another doctor’s prescription (cardiologist). Maybe I’ll have to just see a different cardiologist.
My afib episodes are every one to three months, 8 hours per event. Thank you for your posts. They are very informative, and it makes me feel there’s an actual A-Fibbers Club that I belong to!
I don’t take Eliquis anymore. I was only on it a short time before my ablation and for a short time after my ablation. All told, I was only on it for about 3 months.
When I stopped taking it I just stopped. I didn’t wean off of it at all. I just quit immediately when it was time to stop.
Having paroxysmal afib like you have makes it tricky to decide if you should be on a blood thinner. Given your age and sex gives you a CHA₂DS₂-VASc score of 2. That is the hardest score for a doctor (and patient) to determine if blood thinners are appropriate or not. It’s not an easy decision to make.
Another one – stopped afib episodes…
Mexico is the land of sweet and salty. In August, Eduadro’s mother went 190 miles yet again to the hospital. 10 episodes in just a couple of months. He relayed a bottle of magnesium 500 miles to her and after taking 250mg day, she had one recurrent episode in early October. The episode lasted 10 minutes not hours.
Next step. NO SODIUM. No prepared or canned foods with added salt. Strict avoidance. Now, 2-months, and she reported yesterday the infrequent awakenings at night which she suspected were threshold events have vanished.
There is a relationship. Even with a pacemaker, I continue to have irregular heartbeat. With magnesium supplements no afib events for six years. But when I become foolish and eat salty food, my heart arrhythmia becomes very pronounced. Shame on me. I know better. Before the magnesium, say ten years ago, a single salt-cured pickle would trip an event. Now, I think and look at labels before I chomp.
It costs nothing to try and may reveal a drug-free way to improve your quality of life. Ask your doctor about adding a banana a day to your diet for potassium.
My pacemaker was installed because of repeated Bradycardia events including one that happened in a medical center ER. That and a 2nd blocked bundle branch were enough to tip the scales in favor of a cardiac metronome.
I had chronic very high blood pressure before the implant, even with low salt and magnesium. After the implant, BP was dramatically reduced. Yesterday, and for 40 tests* before that 125/70 with no cardiac or BP medications. The cardiac surgeon told me “I see this quite often”. Since my labs indicated very low mag levels I continue to take 500mg every other day.
*different MD’s using mechanical BP apparatus.
YES!!! I was days away from an ablation and starting a very dangerous arythmia medication. I CUT OUT SODIUM and I am now AFIB FREE!!!!! I now follow the keto diet (no sugars) and eat fresh meats, green leafy vegetables, and some dairy. But I now eat NOTHING with sodium and I am AFIB FREE!!! I am so thankful I found that trigger!
It would be great if you had an article to explain all the acronyms being used. EP? LAA?
Lots of others I can’t think of right now.
Great suggestion! I’m going to work on that next. Be on the look out for it. In the meantime, EP is short for “electrophysiologist” (a cardiologist that specializes in the electrical system of the heart). LAA is short for “left atrial appendage” (a small pouch found in the left atrium). Thanks again for the article suggestion. I love the it!
I have been recently diagnosed with A-Fib after years of unsuccessful tests. After being diagnosed, I purchased the Kardia Mobile. In my opinion, that was money well spent. The medical staff at the hospital was very impressed with it.
I absolutely hate the feeling with A-Fib. I am scheduled for an echocardiogram on 12/18 because the last visit to the ER determined that I have an enlarged. I had to call and ask my cardiologist about having the test done. The ER doctor was surprised that I haven’t had one since being diagnosed in November.
I am very concerned about what is going on since my paternal grandmother has A-Fib and has had four strokes. My cardiologist, in my opinion, isn’t as concerned as I am. Am I over reacting? I’m new to this and have questions.
The medicine I’m on doesn’t seem to be working since I am still having symptoms and have been on meds for a month now. I take Metoprolol 25 mg twice a day. The ER doctor said I could take as many as four pills in a 12 hour period. Some days I have no issues all day long. The next day I have problems all day long. On A-Fib days, I’m exhausted, which gets really old!
You’re not overreacting at all. However, don’t let your grandmother’s experience with afib get you down as the treatment and management of atrial fibrillation has come a long way in recent years. By getting on this early, you are significantly reducing your risk of having a stroke!
Having the echo is a great first step but I would also encourage you to get a heart monitor from your doctor – either a 24-hour Holter monitor or a 14-day event monitor (ideally the latter option). The echo will tell you how structurally sound your heart is and the heart monitor will tell you how often you’re in afib. With this information you can work with your doctor to come up with an effective game plan.
If you are in a-fib a lot, or your episodes last several hours, and medications aren’t working for you, then there is always the option to have an ablation. Some people have a lot of success with drugs (at least for a while), while others don’t do so well on drugs (i.e. they either don’t work or the side effects are too much to handle). When drugs don’t work for whatever reason, the ablation is the best option.
I had a successful ablation back in March 2015 and I haven’t had a single a-fib episode since!
If you have specific questions for me, feel free to contact me.
I wish you the very best!
Jenny, can you clarify this, “ER determined that I have an enlarged”?
Interesting you were prescribed the least aggressive med for afib. Statistically, Metoprolol will NOT keep you out nor convert you from afib, only control your HR. However, Metop is critical to use with an anti arrhythmia such as Flecainide, which most likely would convert you back to NSR. I would mention that to your ER to at least have some relief from this condition until you make some difficult decisions about afib.
Travis and I have known each other in the virtual world for several years. We know each others trial experiments with this condition pretty well. His degree of attacks and severity of episodes vs mine were certainly more egregious. I believe we have tried just about everything there is to treat this including ablation.
We’ve both had many tests. Mine include all the medical ones and even a catheter scope. Blood tests for all the usual suspects, Mag, B12, etc. Always normal and even above the ND vs conventional levels.
I have tried most of 1-8 and more with no success but have self converted with supplements and a few maneuvers such as a short sprint or neck adjustment twice.
I had 2 years of zero afib with PVCs several times per week by using no less than 10 different supplements. The big 3 were Magnesium, C, and COq10. But then in Jan this year, wham, back with a vengeance. By May I had more episodes than all the 6 previous years of about 8. One ND had given up and suggested ablation. A new one also, but first a new test.
I also converted several times using 300mg of Flecainide with Metoprolol. I did consider ablation and was one month away, waiting for an EKG which was scheduled. I had considered Natale but chose Boston because Stevenson has a 97% success rate and is a 3 hour drive for me. Plus, my degree of afib was very simple according to Dartmouth EP.
Of course that never happened. And since July, stopped all supplements. Very little Mag or Vit C and just some basic seasonal ones unrelated to afib. The last test was a saliva adrenal for cortisol levels. The results took forever, 2 months, but just before EKG. Off the charts high at night, most episodes occurred then, surprise, very low during the daytime, constant fatigue.
Two supplements in the morning, two at night and no afib, PVCs virtually gone and changed absolutely nothing in diet or life style except zero alcohol for 1 and half years. Worth a shot for everyone with a-fib to check their adrenals. With that said, this will be my last natural attempt to cure this condition.
I have thought of the high cortisol at night issue ever since I was in the hospital two times in August with no success at stopping my A fib until the end of the second visit. On the 4 th day of that 2nd visit I finally got a cardiologist. I was given digoxin and within five minutes my heart rate went down to the 60s from 115-129. The next day I was released. But no one told me that was not a permanent fix. If I stop the digoxin, the A Fib will come back. If I stay on .25 digoxin, it does go into normal sinus rhythm. But the side effects of digoxin are awful.
I will pursue that now, thanks to your comment. I am positive I have a problem with high cortisol. I asked to be checked for that often, and my cardiologist said it was not necessary, the hospital drs said it was not necessary, etc. Why don’t they listen to me? Do I have to get all my degrees and credentials out for them to see? It is frustrating as well as life threatening. I am so grateful for this Web Site.
“my cardiologist said it was not necessary, the hospital drs said it was not necessary, etc. Why don’t they listen to me?
That’s a great question. It is your heart and life after all. Yes, those pesky side effects. That may be the least of your worries. The fact is most meds stop working after a time. The ultimate goal is to get you to the gold standard of ablation. I’m not against that procedure, Travis had a successful one, but when you get into my age group and older, the success rates aren’t much better than med protocols.
I would just add that the “gold standard” exists. You just have to go to the right EP. If you go to an experienced EP, and admittedly they are far and few between right now, the success rates for older people is just as good as they are for middle-aged folks like me.
Travis, I hope youre right. Im way past the unknown dangers long term vs the nightmare of dealing with afib on a regular basis.
We all know Natale has the rep for it, but no one lives forever. There has to be a way to better equip all EPs to rock star status.
And that is the key – getting all the EPs across the country “up to par” with the likes of Natale. Dr. Natale actually spends a lot of his time training EPs and traveling across the country at various conferences educating the EP industry as a whole. For example, Natale and his group were pioneers with LAA ablations. Slowly but surely the busier EP centers across the country are implementing the LAA ablation as part of their standard procedure (only when a LAA ablation is warranted of course).
Prior to Natale (and other rock star EPs) educating the EP industry about the LAA ablation, EP centers would just ignore the LAA. They either didn’t know about it or they didn’t have the skills to touch the LAA. Again, with time and education from the likes of Natale and other “rock stars” in the industry, the LAA ablation is becoming more and more common (which is a good thing since approximately 30% of afib cases have triggers coming from the LAA).
What people don’t understand is that “successful” ablations aren’t due to equipment and tools. It all comes down to the skills and knowledge of the EP. We already have the equipment needed to perform successful ablations (although there is always room for improvement). What we lack more than anything right now is skills and knowledge. EPs have the tools, most just don’t have the skills or knowledge to perform durable and long-term successful ablations.
Travis, agree with training if there is a direct correlation due to varying degrees of experience as PVI has some serious limitations with LAA. As you know I’m neither against or for ablation, or any specific procedure for curing this condition. I’m hopeful for something better. Right now, ablation is still a procedure of treating symptoms vs finding the cause. Some are left with daily PVCs, higher HR and fatigue issues, but no afib. That’s the good news. Though better than daily meds, I believe there is little difference when comparing mortality rates. The issue becomes quality of that life with varying degrees for afib. Mine is quite manageable right now and ablation is the furthest thing from my mind. Yours, ablation was obviously the best choice.
Thanks for the reminder to check adrenals. I still have to have mine checked. The darn saliva kit is still collecting dust on my desk (literally). I don’t know why I keep dragging my feet.
Glad to hear correcting your adrenals have helped so much. That’s so awesome to hear!