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AF Association
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New GP (doctor)

My usual doctor was away on holidays, so I had to see another one. I told him about the recent episode 2 weeks ago, which lasted one hour and explained I had diarrhea along with palpitations this time which was new to me, I had done some research before going and asked him for a referral for a potassium test which he gave me. I also explained my past input in respect of my altered diet etc. The answer I got was that quote "there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that diet effects arrhythmia" Well I have conclusive evidence as my condition has improved over a 2 year period with doing this. The question I should have put to him after this remark could have been - "well the medication didn't exactly help the condition either" but I didn't go that far I just sat there and tried to defend my position but felt utterly despondent and later on got really angry about this (which isn't good for me either). So why did I bother doing all this research and trying to change the outcome when apparently no good can come from it, and what causes this condition in the first place. Sorry to be such a bore at the moment, but still smarting from the visit. What would you have done? thanks everyone

26 Replies

I posted recently about diet and arrhythmia. The point is that in order to have AF you have to have a predisposition to it either from genetic variation or maybe received from over exercise. Without that predisposition you will NOT get AF. Triggers are just that and vary from person to person. Because the vagus nerve connects the brain to the heart and stomach it is possible for digestive problems to aid AF starting but see above, no predisposition, No AF. Not every patient has vagally related AF so for some people no amount of "wrong foods" will bring on an attack whilst for other anything is possible. Caffein used to be blamed a lot but recently I have heard specialists commenting that there is no connection.

Your doctor is technically correct in what he says because no real research has been done other than by individuals who find that (like me) cooked cheese as in Pizza may upset the apple cart. Many people have done elimination tests themselves and found that they can limit their attacks but this is in no way a cure and efficacy may be short lived as we know that AF only ever gets more common.

What we all have to accept is that AF is a very mongrel condition and no two people ever have the same level of symptoms or even experience it the same. If it was more universal then it might be easier to treat as a drug which worked for one would work for all. You must also remember that this is all very new science. Doctors have been trying to cure cancer for many many years but AF has only been on the agenda for less than twenty.


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Thankyou for your reply, however I have talked to the Cardiologist regarding Vagal problems but I was told this was not what I have, he at least is willing to look at the triggers for me in respect of foods and including caffeine which I have all but eliminated. I know there is no cure at this stage but I do expect some sort of acknowledgement from any health professional in trying to manage my own condition this way. As regards to your awareness of a very new science, at least you have speakers and groups in the UK who address some of the problems associated with this condition, in Australia at the moment there is no raising the awareness. Ultramarine Australia


Yes we are very lucky in UK although lots of people don't understand this. When I was diagnosed in 2004 there was nothing which is why I joined AFA back along as soon as it started as I didn't want others to feel as I had. AFA Australia is now up and running as you know but only very recently so now is a good time for you to get involved and volunteer to spread your story. Talk to local papers, try and get interviews on local radio, doorstep GPs with AFA fact sheets and generally make a nuisance of yourself. Work with your local group,obviously but as it says on all those political e mails that flash around the globe " if you don't then you are part of the problem".

Good luck from one who did.



Thankyou BobD yes you are lucky and it must feel good to have started something which has grown so big. I have and am just doing what you suggested, and have recently contacted DVA veterans network who I will be meeting up with soon, this is a start anyway. Ideally I would like a local group (face to face) and an online group just as you have there. My interest also stems from Teaching and Education so key speakers would be a great way to spread the word thanks again Ultramarine - Australia


Well, since going for a CT scan of the heart prior to an ablation sometime in the near future, I was told to have no caffeine, not even decaf, so that must indicate it can have an effect on AF. From personal experience I know that more than 1 cup of caffeinated coffee makes me more prone to AF and alcohol, if I have about teaspoon full of red wine on a special occasion is also a bit risky, so best spat out after the flavour has been enjoyed!


You have not mentioned if you have to much or not enough potassium? If there is a shortage banana's are a good source. I agree with BobD we are all so different and so are doctors. I had one doctor dismiss my heart palpitations and another that said Asthma attacks were panic attacks and because of this I went untreated for some years. I have a list of conditions one of which is Gout I have found if I have more than one small portion of mushrooms it can bring on my gout! But when I do get the onset of gout I will also have a gooey chest. My dilemma is that some of my drugs counter my other conditions and my food can affect some my tablets. It is finding that balance that suites you.

Be Well



Thankyou for your interest offcut.

The tests wont be back until tomorrow, so I will take your banana tip on board if the potassium levels are low, I know potatoes have potassium but they put on weight so I believe, I will keep you informed anyway. At the moment I do feel well so fingers crossed.



I think what you drink can also affect your condition. I used to drink alot of fizzy and found my episodes were more and more frequent and would last a long time. I gave up drinking fizzy a year ago and although I still gave episodes they are not as long lasting as they were when aggravated by pop.


*have not gave...my phone can't spell lol.


thankyou claireskyblue I only learnt about this a few months ago, so I gave up the fizzy stuff too, in my case Mineral water (carbonated) I drink lots more water now and feel a lot better for it


It's frustrating when you do a lot of research and you can see your doctor's eyes glazing over as you speak... I guess the important thing is, you know your own body and if you feel something is helping, give it a go, as long as it's beneficial.


I think I got really annoyed Eatsalottie felt dismissed if you like, thanks I will continue on checking out other foods/drinks when they crop up


The problem is that the drug companies have so much influence so it's an uphill battle. My cardiac specialist just wanted to increase my pills!


Yes they'd rather mask what's happening with tablets than find out whats causing the problem. I know there are times when drugs are necessary but I can't believe the way they are handed out so readily.


Hi Ultramarine - I found that giving up eating/drinking anything with artificial sweeteners really helped my condition. Lunchtimes at work I could never resist the apple crumble, but every time I had it my heart would start racing. I went into our kitchen and studied the tinned apple they used - nothing in it - and I was bewildered. I wondered if perhaps there wasn't a connection and it was just a coincidence. Then after a few more attacks, the penny suddenly dropped and our cook realised that artificial sweeteners were used in the custard. so there's absolute proof that for me they trigger my AF. Now I try not to eat anything that has additives of any kind.

I also think my AF is vagally related as once I have my lunch, well that's my energy gone for the rest of the day. If I try to do anything it makes me feel drained of energy and a little sick. Going up stairs after eating is a real no, no.

With regards to what would I have done regarding your doctors attitude. Well, I guess I would have just kept quiet like you and then been cross afterwards. He sounds like the sort of person who has set ideas and goes by the book - no point in you trying to make him see things differently. Wishing you well.



Yes I'm sure there's a connection with what I eat and how my heart reacts, being a non meat eater and eat no cheese I have to make sure to have a balanced diet. We eat food cooked by ourselves so we know what's in it and eat out at places where we know what's cooked. So apart from eating too much salt added food when out this seems to work most of the time, of course nothing's perfect .

Offcut have you tried cherries for gout, eight cherries a day( in any form) is a good natural control. At the moment I'm not taking any heart meds apart from Flecanide and feel the best I've felt for years. Angiogram soon to explore high blood pressure. It's sky high. I'm sure there have been lots of posts from Australia here so you are not alone Ultramarine.


No not tried cherries and I love cherries Wow a great excuse to eat them now ;)


I thought I would add my pennyworth to the above.

I attended a lecture yesterday re: heart problems, the speaker was a cardiologist. Most of the lecture was about the aspects of managing heart problems re: surgical interventions, stents etc, but she did touch on AF and described it as a nightmare condition because there was no ENTITY definition.

Reading all of your comments I think demonstrates this statement to be accurate.

I do feel that AF is now becoming more recognised by the medical profession and hopefully this will trickle down to our home grown GP's

In the mean time I think this forum is excellent in comforting us when we feel under the weather, and excellent in highlighting AF.



100% correct PhyllisK it is a very complex condition. I had to have tests for Anderson Farby because my multitude of problems matched it, it was a great feeling telling my GP what the condition was as he had never heard of it. The tests were negative but was nice to know that my cardiologist is keeping up with things which gave him another thing to tick off.


What an interesting post...raising several points about our problems. It strikes me that having permanent AF, as I do, is so much easier to get along with than those of you who experience sudden and periodic attacks. My GP seems fairly switched on and between us we have adjusted all my drugs to a point where I am relatively comfortable. I await my cardioversion. My first AF experience was 45 years ago and a scary one! I was whisked off by ambulance and put in Intensive Care for three days. I was connected to a clockwork IV machine (yes, it had to be wound up) which fed some drug into me. Panic all around! As Bob says, the last 20 years have brought more understanding and AF is acknowledged in a much more relaxed manner. All that's needed is more research into the hows, whys and wherefores of the problem.


My body is very sensitive to food since birth

I was diagnosed with migraine since I was 18 main triggers are food, I'm sure it is linked somehow to irrythemia , since I noticed before during and after migraine attack I used to have a lot of ectopic beats and more possible AF symptoms

To avoid migraine I already exclude a long list of food which usually trigger it such as chocolate , banana , grapes , mango , nuts , I guess most of them are good source of potassium , am I right !

But never been in low level of potassium in any blood tests done

I noticed also I'm having AF or SVT whenever I lay down or sleep after a meal , so I'm not getting a nap after lunch or supper any more

In addition of the above as a Muslim I used to fast for the full 30 days once a year and never get any AF attack during fasting time! But I may have it after the meals at night



G'day Ultramarine Australia,

You are expecting too much !!

GP's or Dr's as we call them in Oz are just that - generalists. Nothing more - nothing less ! Unless their own lives are affected by AF in some way or other or unless they have a particular interest in the heart/cardiac system and its sensitivities you're on a hiding to nothing. Might as well go to a vet !

Consultants or Specialists as we call them in Oz are a little more skilled BUT they will only consider each 's discipline in isolation, they won't or will rarely consider the interaction of the bodies systems on another. With your issues and AF you'd almost be better off going to see a Gastro Specialist than a Cardiac Specialist - at least the Gastro guy/gal will recognise the link with food/diet and the heart.!

I assume you are living on Oz, if so, try this - Google - Sue Shepherd, Melbourne or the Shepherd Works, Melbourne and devour the website I'm sure you'll pick up some threads which will be of use - particularly regarding lethargy and tiredness after meals but also look at FODMAPS diet. I'm gonna be in Melbourne next month and am going to try for an appointment - no I'm not crook - treating it as a fact finding mission.

I have been diagnosed with paroxysmal AF, and that's what the Cardio guy signed off on - but personally I have had more satisfaction from a Nutrionist than a Dr. To the point that now I don't regard myself as having AF rather a food/diet/digestive disorder. Keep those things in check and that will help my heart to behave.

Yeah ! I'm lucky - I have no other health issue - nor have I ever had - and that's a plus. I'm also lucky in that I have been able to identify my AF trigger as being food/diet and have had a bloody good nutrionist to steer me onto a healthy food diet. I have read heaps on UK media about American approaches to food/diet (got them on my hard drive someplace) and the start of the acceptance of the digestive system being the body's 2nd brain because of how much it affects other systems in the body. Like a lot of things in the conventional medical world in both Britain and Australia - Dr's and Specialists seem reluctant to look outside the box !!


Aussie John (Cornwall, UK)


Hi Offcut, just a good tip which was given to me from a relative in Oz regarding gout. He told me to drink 2ltrs of water when I feel an attack coming on. I have done this on two or three occasions and it has worked for me.


Thanks to everyone on this thread, I have learned a lot by reading all that has been posted and now I don't feel so isolated with my AF. I too have to be careful with what I eat and have to make sure I don't eat too much because I get very tired and lack energy if I do. I am sick of feeling tired and exhausted. I felt lost until I found this website but now I feel more informed.


Gps should do the research we have done, they are useless, failed consultants!!


Hi everyone in the UK who have been so kind to respond. I am overwhelmed and very lucky to have such contacts.

What a good word "Nightmare condition" I will use it more often now. As regards to the GP yes I have met a few like this before "they haven't learned their bedside manner yet'' and as was suggested in your replies don't consider another viewpoint as being valid. I took this tack earlier on when I knew that my body responded to foods and drinks in a negative way, and was convinced and still am that the digestive/stomach is a delicate area and needs a lot more research about the connection to AF than what is currently the vogue in the medical profession, I will not be returning to this doctor again. On saying this though I am so glad to have met some sensative physicians who aren't in it for the money. The ambulance guys and nurses and hospital staff do their upmost. I will be checking out the site of Sue Shepherd in Melbourne and other resources. I do not have any underlying conditions except for High Blood pressure which is why I do my breathing and relaxation so much (from the stomach) "Digestive system as the 2nd brain" sounds interesting.

Thankyou all again - eat well and sleep well - Ultramarine


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