Find the Right Activity
Complete relaxation can slow your heart rhythm, but so can a bit of activity. Some people find that some moderate exercise can eradicate an AFib episode – a brisk walk, a few jumping jacks, or a short jog. The theory is that exercise makes the heart beat faster initially, but then it slows down afterwards.
It’s difficult to predict whether or not exercise will help, so proceed with caution. In the very least, some light activity can be a welcome distraction from irritating symptoms.
Change Your Diet for Fewer Symptoms
Healthy dietary changes can reduce your chances of future AFib attacks, but a few quick adjustments could also help clear up an episode that’s already started. Try these potential fixes from the kitchen:
- Reduce salt and increase potassium. Salt can throw off your mineral balance, plus it leads to dehydration, and eventually heart disease – all problems that can spark AFib. Too much salt in the diet can also deplete your potassium stores, and a lack of potassium can directly affect heart rhythm. Bananas are an option, but tomato or prune juice can give you a helpful hit of potassium, too.
- Add magnesium. A regular heartbeat depends on magnesium, but it’s easy to let your levels drop. Eat a handful of nuts or seeds (cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts are all good choices), or take a magnesium supplement. An Epsom salt bath will achieve the same result – you’ll absorb the Epsom salt (which is magnesium sulfate) through your skin.
- Drink water. Dehydration is one of the quickest paths to palpitations, so ditch the alcohol, caffeine, and soft drinks, and pour yourself a big glass of water (or two). Watch out for fruit juices, since many have added salt and too much sugar to hydrate effectively.
Find Comfort with Good Company
Talking or simply listening to someone you trust and enjoy can be very reassuring, and can make the time go much faster. But a good friend or family member may also help your sinus rhythm return to normal through a process called entrainment.
After listening to a normal heartbeat for a few moments, your own heart will tend to slow down to match up with the pace. It’s only a theory, but certainly worth a try if you’re suffering through a drawn-out AFib episode.
If you’d like to try the entrainment procedure, you may want to invest in a stethoscope to help you hear the other heartbeat loud and clear. Another option is to find an online recording of a normal heartbeat that you can play for as long as you need.
If it doesn’t resolve your AFib, don’t fret – sometimes a combination of diet change, medication, relaxation, and meditation (with or without the steady heartbeat soundtrack) can do the trick.