How to perform Valsalva maneuver
Performing the Valsalva maneuver is simple and just requires you to follow these four simple steps.
- Sit in a comfortable position and relax.
- Take a deep breath, fill your mouth with air, and close your mouth.
- Now shut your nose using your fingers.
- Try to breathe out, apply some pressure.
Hold the maneuver for a minimum of 15 seconds.
If practicing the exercise is not effective, take a break of two minutes and repeat.
Phases of Valsalva maneuver
There are four phases of the Valsalva maneuver. They are:
Phase 1 – In the first phase, as you breathe out with closed airways there is an increase in the blood pressure. There is no effect on the heart rate. This is the beginning of the breathing technique, when you breathe out using closed airways it increases pressure on the chest. This pressure forces the blood out of the respiratory system into the left atrium.
Phase 2 – In the second phase, there is a drop in the amount of blood pumped by your heart. This drop occurs because of the excess pressure on the chest cavity that makes it difficult for the blood to return to the chest from the other parts of the body including the heart. To balance it out, your blood vessels narrow and this results in an increase in the blood pressure. The increase in blood pressure is constant until the end of the breathing technique.
Phase 3 – Phase third occurs when you resume your normal breathing. In this phase, your blood pressure falls for a brief period.
Phase 4 – In the fourth phase, the blood flow and heart rate return to normal.
- The one major side effect of practicing the Valsalva maneuver is it can cause hypotension. Since while performing the exercise you may experience a severe drop in the blood pressure it can make you unconscious.
- Even though Valsalva maneuver is said to treat abnormal heart rate, it should not be used to treat all types of heart ailments. It may cause some serious side effects if not practiced properly.
- Avoid practicing the technique if you have hypertension. The exercise may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Avoid practicing the breathing technique if you have any issues with your eyes or have had any eye surgery in the past. The exercise may put stress on the eyes.
- Seek medical help if you are experiencing supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and practicing the breathing technique does not provide you relief. Even in serious cases, when you experience difficulty in breathing or severe chest pain, it is advised to seek medical help immediately.
- Practice the exercise with caution if you have a damaged eardrum or a history of ear ailments. Since the exercise requires breathing out with pressure, it can make your condition worse.
- Even though the Valsalva maneuver has proven benefits, it should be first practiced under a healthcare professional’s guidance. If you know the right technique to perform the exercise, it would be helpful for you to treat the abnormal heart rate in a safe manner.
- If you have a history of abnormal heart rate but your doctor has never recommended the exercise, ask your doctor if it is suitable for you. Also, ask if there are any potential side effects you may experience.
- If you have any existing medical conditions, talk to your doctor before performing the breathing exercise.
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