Vagal maneuvers are used to try to slow an episode of fast heart
rate. These simple maneuvers 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 maneuvers that you can try to slow your fast heart rate
Holding your breath and
bearing down (Valsalva maneuver).
Immersing your face in ice-cold
water (diving reflex).
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 maneuver (called carotid sinus massage) in the emergency room to
help slow your heart rate. This technique should only be performed by a doctor.
Calkins H (2011). Supraventricular tachycardia: Atrioventricular nodal reentry and Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's the Heart, 13th ed., vol. 1, pp. 987–1005. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer
John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.