How does a vagal maneuver stop a fast heartbeat?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
There are several "natural" ways to stop some types of tachycardias or rapid heartbeats. One, in particular, is the vagal maneuver, which takes its name from the vagal nerve. This nerve regulates your heart rate, and the vagal maneuver stimulates this nerve and allows you to halt an arrhythmia or rapid heartbeat that started above the lower part of your heart. There are different ways to do the vagal maneuver, including putting your face in a bowl or sink of ice water, coughing hard, or holding your breath while straining. Before you do the vagal maneuver, it's important to talk with your doctor. These methods may or may not be effective and appropriate for your type of tachycardia. 

Continue Learning about Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Your circulatory system is made up of your heart and three main types of blood vessels -- arteries, veins and capillaries. Your heart is at the center of the system, acting as a pump to distribute nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood t...

hrough your body; it then takes away carbon dioxide and other waste your body doesn't need. Signs of poor circulation include cold hands and feet, numbness, dizziness, migraines, varicose veins and pain in your feet or legs. Untreated, poor circulation can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, kidney damage and other diseases. Learn more about your heart and circulatory system with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.