Medical News Today: What is the Valsalva maneuver?

The Valsalva maneuver is a specific method of respiratory that will increase strain within the chest. It causes numerous results within the physique, together with modifications within the coronary heart price and blood strain.

Folks might carry out the maneuver often with out understanding it. For instance, they could use it after they push to provoke a bowel motion.

Nonetheless, this method will also be useful when folks use it deliberately as it will probably regulate coronary heart rhythms and assist the ears to pop.

The doctor Antonio Maria Valsalva first described the method within the 1700s as a approach to clear pus out of the ears.

How one can do the Valsalva maneuver

Person holding their breath and their nose for valsalva maneuver
The Valsalva maneuver includes holding the breath.

To do the Valsalva maneuver, comply with these steps:

  • Inhale deeply after which maintain your breath.
  • Think about that the chest and abdomen muscle mass are very tight and bear down as if straining to provoke a bowel motion.
  • Maintain this place for a short while, normally about 10 seconds.
  • Breathe out forcibly to launch the breath quickly.
  • Resume regular respiratory.

An alternate technique includes mendacity down and blowing into an empty syringe for 15 seconds.

The Valsalva maneuver creates quite a few results within the physique as a result of it builds up the strain within the pleural cavity, generally known as the intrapleural strain.

This elevated strain can result in the compression of the chambers of the guts and key blood vessels within the physique, together with:

  • the aorta, which is the most important artery that pumps oxygen-rich blood via the physique
  • the vena cava, which is the most important vein that returns blood to the guts

The compression of the aorta initially causes the blood pressure to rise. A sensor within the carotid artery, referred to as the baroreceptor, detects the elevated blood strain.

This prompts parasympathetic fibers, which shortly scale back the guts price and blood strain. Medical doctors typically consult with this impact as vagaling.

The Valsalva maneuver reduces cardiac output, which is the quantity of blood that the guts places out with each beat. The person might really feel lightheaded or dizzy consequently.

As soon as the baroreceptor senses the lower in coronary heart price and blood strain, it’s going to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. This could trigger an individual’s coronary heart price and blood strain to extend, offsetting the parasympathetic results.

Nonetheless, when an individual breathes out, this releases the compression on the guts, permitting it to fill again up with blood. Respiratory out will increase the strain contained in the aorta, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing the guts price once more.

Makes use of

Person sweating after work out receiving breathing and recovery advice from doctor.
The Valsalva maneuver helps deal with a speedy coronary heart price.

Medical doctors can use the Valsalva maneuver to deal with folks with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).

SVT is a speedy coronary heart price that’s usually over 100 beats per minute at rest. It may trigger signs together with coronary heart palpitations, chest ache, and shortness of breath.

A coronary heart price of this pace could be harmful as a result of the guts can not pump sufficient blood when it beats so shortly.

SVT typically requires emergency therapy. As soon as emergency responders have recognized an individual’s coronary heart rhythm and decided that their blood strain is secure, they could exhibit how you can carry out the Valsalva maneuver.

In accordance with a report within the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the Valsalva maneuver was simpler in slowing down the guts price than different comparable procedures, resembling carotid sinus therapeutic massage or making use of an ice-cold towel to the face.

A meta-analysis discovered that the Valsalva maneuver can restore common coronary heart price between 19.4 and 54.3 percent of the time.

If the Valsalva maneuver doesn’t normalize the guts rhythm, an individual might want to obtain electrical shocks, referred to as cardioversion, or medicines.

These approaches could cause disagreeable unwanted effects, resembling chest ache, strain, and flushing.

The Valsalva maneuver has different makes use of too. These embrace:

  • clearing the ears when scuba diving or a change in altitude will increase strain
  • rising colonic strain to induce a bowel motion

Weightlifters additionally are likely to carry out the Valsalva maneuver after they elevate heavy weights. Some might do that method intentionally whereas others is not going to notice that they’re utilizing it.

It’s a frequent perception that utilizing the Valsalva maneuver when lifting heavy weights can present momentum and trunk stabilization.

Dangers and concerns

The first aspect impact of the Valsalva maneuver is hypotension, which is a sudden, persistent lower in blood strain.

Folks performing the maneuver can also really feel lightheaded or expertise syncope, which is a short lack of consciousness.


The Valsalva maneuver may also help scale back speedy coronary heart rhythms for some folks. It may additionally assist folks to pop their ears, elevate weights, or have a bowel motion.

Whereas the Valsalva maneuver does have some potential unwanted effects, it’s a non-invasive different to different remedies, resembling remedy or electrical shocks.


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