10. “What can I do for my husband when he has an Atrial Fibrillation episode? How can I be supportive?”
First, determine if this episode is typical. If you both know from experience that this A-Fib attack will pass, you can help by getting him to sit or lay down and relax as much as possible. Maybe he needs to be reassured—remind him that this isn’t life threatening. That may help to keep you both calm and to get you through it. (I know how hard it is to “relax” when your heart feels like it’s going to jump out of your chest and is totally out of control.)
You might suggest he try one or more of these tips shared by other A-Fib patients:
• Putting cold compresses or ice on the back of one’s neck.
• Laying down and trying to relax in a darkened room.
• Moderate exercise. For some, moderate exercise may help terminate an A-Fib attack. But for others, exercise may trigger or increase an A-Fib attack.
• Deep breathing and holding one’s breathe while pressing down hard on the diaphragm.
• A-Fib is sometimes triggered by body position—lying or leaning on the left side. Lying on one’s back and relaxing the chest may help terminate A-Fib episodes triggered by lying on the left side.
• Putting one’s head between one’s legs and deep breathing.
If this episode is unusual and your spouse is in great discomfort with their heart beating very rapidly and irregularly, consider calling emergency services (dial 911 in the US.) or drive him to hospital emergency room. The emergency room staff can use a defibrillator and medications to electrically shock him back into normal sinus rhythm. Or convert him/her back to sinus rhythm using drugs.