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Vagal A-Fib

Reader Tip: Ends Vagal A-Fib Attack with Short Intense Exercise

If your A-Fib occurs at night, after a meal, when resting after exercising, or when you have digestive problems, then you may have ‘Vagally-Mediated’ A-Fib. The Vagus Nerve controls the abdomen and is part of the Parasympathetic Nervous System that tends to slow the heart and dilate blood vessels. Vagal A-Fib is uncommon.

I received an email from ‘A-Fibber in California’ with Vagal A-Fib who’s otherwise healthy and active. He wrote to tell about his success getting out of an A-Fib attack. ‘A-Fibber in California’ writes:

“I have the classic presentation of vagal A-Fib. Good heart, younger age bracket, typically in shape; A-Fib starts at night when I am relaxed and the parasympathetic part of the nervous system is more prominent.

The A-Fibs go away sometime during the day, usually at work when the sympathetic aspect is more prominent. I am an avid cyclist, and in shape, as are many patients with vagal A-Fib. I have a stationary bicycle trainer at home.

Short Maximum Intensity Exercise Stops My A-Fib

The Vagal Nerve - A-Fib.com

Click image to enlarge: The Vagal Nerve

I usually have A-Fib episodes once a week for anywhere from 10 hours to 24 hours.

I wondered if after warming up, if my doing a short bout of maximum intensity exercise, 60 seconds all-out, on my stationary bike, if that would stop an A-Fib episode?

Could the short maximum intensity exercise drive a very strong, sympathetically-mediated, sinoatrial node signal to the atrium? And then would it override the chaotic cardiac Central Nervous System nuclei signals that kept the heart in A-Fib? 

Yes. It worked!

In the morning of each of my past 5 A-Fib episodes, which have taken place in the space of 6 weeks, I got back to sinus rhythm immediately after getting off the bike following the maximum-intensity exercise noted above.

I used a pulse oximeter and stethoscope to confirm. This signal-overriding approach to sinus rhythm has worked so far to end an A-Fib attack.

Theory Why it Didn’t Work One Evening

There was one instance, however, when it did not. That time the A-Fib had begun, as is typical for vagally-mediated A-Fib, in the early part of the night/late evening. The short intensity exercise did not stop the A-Fib at that time. However, when I waited until morning and did it again, I returned to sinus rhythm immediate after stopping.

I wonder. Could attempting to stop the A-Fib when the body’s circadian rhythm places greater emphasis on parasympathetic/vagal tone, make it be more difficult to bring the heart back to sinus rhythm through a sympathetic nervous system activation?

Technique More Effective in the Morning? Short intensity exercise may be more effective in the morning, when the body’s sympathetic system starts to be activated more.

Perhaps my experience may help others who have vagal A-Fibs and can exercise this way.” – A-Fibber in California

Our reader, ‘A-Fibber from California’, also writes that he has scheduled his PV CryoBalloon ablation. Perhaps after his three-month ‘blanking’ period, his vagal A-Fib will be a thing of the past. We’ll follow and report on this progress.

Do You Have a Tip to Share?

Share your tip at A-Fib.comHave some advice to pass on to others with A-Fib? Something that’s working to lessen your A-Fib symptoms, or reduce your frequency or duration of your episodes? Perhaps some ‘Lessons learned the hard way’?

Why not share it with others? Take a few minutes and send me an email about it. Short or long, your tip offers insights that can help others.

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