What to Do During an A-Fib Episode

Elderly Care Park Ridge IL: What to Do During an A-Fib Episode
Elderly Care Park Ridge IL: What to Do During an A-Fib Episode

Atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, is when the heart beats irregularly. It may beat too quickly, feel like it is skipping a beat, or seem to flutter in the chest. People who experience A-fib should see a doctor as it can lead to serious complications. However, once your aging relative has seen a doctor and is being treated, episodes of A-fib can often be dealt with at home.

Stopping A-Fib Episodes

There are a few things that your aging relative can try at home to stop an A-fib episode, such as:

  • Use Deep Breathing: Taking slow, deep breaths may help the heart return to a regular pattern. It’s a good idea to have your aging relative practice deep breathing so they know how to do it when the time comes. The steps for deep breathing are:

1. Sit comfortably with one hand on the stomach.
2. Inhale through the nose for 4 seconds causing the stomach to rise.
3. Hold the breath for a few seconds.
4. Breathe slowly out through the mouth for 4 seconds.

  • Drink Cold Water: Sometimes drinking cold water slowly can give the heart a little shock and make it return to a normal rhythm.
  • Vagal Maneuvers: Vagal maneuvers trigger the vagal nerve, which plays a role in heart function. Have the older adult cough or bear down like they are trying to have a bowel movement.

Preventing an Episode

Rather than planning to stop A-fib episodes when they happen, it’s better to be proactive and prevent them from happening in the first place. Some ways to prevent an episode are:

  • Avoid Triggers: There are some things that can bring on an episode of A-fib, such as caffeine, alcohol, stress, and lack of sleep.
  • Lose Weight: Being overweight is a risk factor for several diseases that can cause A-fib, such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and diabetes.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking is a risk factor for A-fib. In fact, people who smoke are at twice the risk as people who don’t smoke.
  • Reduce Stress: Anger and stress are both known to bring on A-fib.

Elderly care can help older adults who have A-fib to both prevent and stop episodes. An elderly care provider can remind the senior to try deep breathing or a vagal maneuver. Or, an elderly care provider can bring them a glass of cold water. Elderly care providers can also assist seniors to avoid triggers. They can even help with weight loss by cooking healthy meals and helping the older adult to be more physically active.

If you are considering elderly care in Park Ridge, IL, for an aging loved one, please call the caring staff at A-Abiding Care today. Serving North and Northwest Chicago and the surrounding area for over 30 years. Call 847-698-1400.


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