Vagal maneuvers are used to try to slow an episode of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). 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.
Your doctor can show you how to do
these procedures safely. Your doctor may recommend that you do these while you lie down on your back.
Vagal maneuvers that you can try to slow your fast heart rate
Bearing down. Bearing down means that you try to breathe out with your stomach muscles but you don't let air out of your nose or mouth.
Putting an ice-cold, wet towel on your face.
Coughing or gagging.
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.
Page RL, et al. (2015). 2015 ACC/AHA/HRS guideline for the management of adult patients with supraventricular tachycardia: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000311. Accessed September 23, 2015.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology