Alternative therapies may be a potential treatment for arrhythmia when used alongside medical treatments.

An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat. The heart may beat too quickly, too slowly, or irregularly, disrupting blood flow and damaging organs.

Some research suggests that alternative treatments may be beneficial for improving arrhythmia symptoms alongside conventional medical treatments.

People with arrhythmias should always follow the advice of their cardiologist and take medications as prescribed, even if their symptoms improve. Complementary therapies may help ease arrhythmia symptoms but cannot cure the condition. Stopping taking medications could lead to adverse health events, such as stroke.

Alternative therapies or supplements may cause side effects or interfere with medical treatments, so it is important to consult a doctor before using alternative treatments for arrhythmia.

This article looks at alternative treatments for arrhythmia, potential benefits, and possible side effects.

Learn more about arrhythmia.

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A 2019 review found that acupuncture may have benefits for the management of atrial fibrillation (AFib) — the most common type of arrhythmia. Studies suggest that acupuncture is associated with a faster return to normal sinus rhythm and reduced harmful reactions to medications.

A 2018 review noted that acupuncture reduced the occurrence of AFib in people with persistent and paroxysmal AFib.

Possible side effects

There have been few reports of negative side effects of acupuncture, but complications may occur from improper technique and use of equipment.

Serious side effects may include infections, injury to the central nervous system, or organ puncture.

To help prevent adverse side effects of acupuncture, people can ensure they receive treatment from a licensed, experienced practitioner who uses sterile, single-use needles.

Learn how acupuncture works.

According to a 2020 article, yoga may help manage arrhythmias. The benefits may be due to the yogic breathing patterns having beneficial effects on the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system plays a key role in atrial arrhythmias.

Yoga may also help reduce blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and reduce stress and anxiety.

A 2018 review also suggests that yoga may improve people’s quality of life and result in fewer symptoms of AFib.

Read about natural ways to treat AFib.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), people may use vagal maneuvers to treat certain types of arrhythmia. Vagal maneuvers are relaxation techniques to slow the heart rate. Techniques may include:

  • the Valsalva maneuver, which involves holding the breath and bearing down
  • lying down
  • coughing or gagging
  • dipping a towel in ice-cold water and then placing it over the face

People can talk with a healthcare professional to help guide them in using vagal maneuvers for arrhythmias.

Possible side effects

Vagal maneuvers are relatively safe, and complications are not common. Complications may include transient heart rhythm disorders, such as slowed heart rate.

To help prevent side effects of vagal maneuvers, people can talk with a doctor about whether they are an appropriate treatment option.

A 2020 scientific statement from the American Heart Association found that regular physical exercise may help prevent and reduce the burden of AFib and improve symptoms and quality of life.

The reviewers also noted that weight loss links to significant reductions in AFib symptoms and burden.

Learn about the benefits of exercise.

Wenxin Keli is an herbal extract commonly used in Chinese medicine. It contains many potentially active compounds that researchers have investigated for possible antiarrhythmic effects.

According to a 2018 review, research suggests that Wenxin Keli may have heart-protective effects by reducing oxidative stress and blocking inflammatory reactions. This may help reduce the severity of arrhythmias.

A 2022 review suggests that Wenxin Keli may be a safe and effective treatment for AFib. However, researchers require further controlled trials to confirm this because existing studies are of low quality.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance that occurs naturally in the body.

According to a 2020 review, CoQ10 has significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but levels in the body may decrease due to certain factors, such as aging, cardiovascular disease, or the use of statins.

Research suggests that CoQ10 supplementation may be helpful as an additional treatment for AFib, as well as other cardiovascular diseases, although researchers require further evidence to confirm findings.

CoQ10 is not FDA-approved.

Possible side effects

There have been no reports of serious side effects of CoQ10. Mild side effects may include insomnia or digestive upset. CoQ10 may also interact with blood thinners, insulin, and some types of cancer treatments.

Learn more about supplements for arrhythmia.

Medications for arrhythmia include:

  • beta-blockers
  • calcium channel blockers
  • blood thinners, which reduce stroke risk in certain types of arrhythmia, such as AFib and atrial flutter
  • digoxin
  • antiarrhythmic drugs, such as potassium channel blockers and sodium channel blockers
  • atropine or adenosine, in emergency situations

Other treatments may include:

  • Cardioversion: This uses electric shocks to return the heart rhythm to normal.
  • Catheter ablation: This involves passing a catheter through blood vessels to the heart to create a scar on the heart. This prevents abnormal electrical signals from causing an irregular heartbeat.
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): This device monitors the heart rhythm and can treat dangerous ventricular arrhythmias with an electrical shock.
  • Pacemaker: This is a device that sends electrical pulses to maintain a normal heartbeat.

Read about how to improve heart health.

Some complementary treatments may be beneficial in helping manage and improve the symptoms of arrhythmia.

However, these treatments cannot cure arrhythmia. It is best to follow the advice of a cardiologist and take medications as prescribed.

It is important to talk with a healthcare professional before taking any supplement or using an alternative therapy for treating arrhythmias.