Vagal Manoeuvres for Fast Heart Rate

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Vagal Manoeuvres for Fast Heart Rate

Topic Overview

Vagal manoeuvre are used to try to slow an episode of fast heart rate. These simple manoeuvre stimulate the vagus nerve, sometimes resulting in slowed conduction of electrical impulses through the atrioventricular (AV) node of the heart. Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying these.

Vagal manoeuvre that you can try to slow your fast heart rate include:

  • Gagging.
  • Holding your breath and bearing down (Valsalva manoeuvre).
  • Immersing your face in ice-cold water (diving reflex).
  • Coughing.

Be sure to have your doctor show you how to do these procedures correctly.

In addition to these, your doctor may sometimes try another vagal manoeuvre (called carotid sinus massage) in the emergency room to help slow your heart rate. This technique should only be performed by a doctor.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John M. Miller, MD - Electrophysiology
Last Revised November 26, 2010

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