What are the best tips to avoid occasional af? - AF Association

AF Association
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What are the best tips to avoid occasional af?


I had a triple bypass op four years ago, and up until now I'd thought that my heart was undamaged, that it was just the plumbing that needed to be fixed. So it came as rather a shock, after a night in hospital recently to "treat" and monitor an af episode, to think that my heart is damaged... More investigation to follow, but in the meantime I want to take steps to minimise having another attack. I shall avoid stress (yeah, right!), alcohol, late nights and make sure I drink plenty of liquids (water!), exercise and TRY to maintain my sense of humour. Any other sage advice? Nice to hear from others, if you can spare the time. Thanks!

12 Replies

Oh, you've opened a can of worms here! Some people will to tell you not to bother trying to identify triggers at all. There's a long list and we all have our own. Mine are:

Stress - which means different things to different people

Heavy exercise - though I find moderate,regular exercise helpful

Large amounts of food - though I don't seem to have a problem with types of food or moderate amounts of alcohol

Things that help -

focussing on something that's different and pleasant (a form of cognitive behaviour therapy) if I'm stressed.

Lying down and going to sleep - this is actually a trigger for some people

It essential to maintain the sense of humour! But the good thing about AF is that although the electrics might be askew, it points one towards a very healthy lifestyle. Diet has an influence and various members of the forum have their own regimes which work well for them and they will probably share them with you. We all have different triggers. I don't know what mine are, but I avoid alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine, salt (blood pressure) saturated fats (cholesterol) and - to my regret - things that upset warfarin. I was given a bag of Pontefract cakes this week and have not dared eat them as liquorice may contain vitamin K and is supposed to be a trigger. I don't want to rock any boats at the moment. Good luck.

PS I don't know if sage contains vitamin K, so I can't offer any advice there !!!


Yes right! AF is such a mongrel condition. Nobody knows what causes AF other than a pre-disposition to it either genetic or acquired and no two people experience it the same way. In your case you acquired the AF following bypass surgery as you now have extra impulses and connections floating about which you didn't before. This is not unknown for people to get AF post heart surgery. To put things straight your heart isn't damaged now any more that it was before by pass. Structurally it hasn't changed it is just the printed circuit board which controls it which has changed to use an electronics analogy. You were far more at risk before that surgery than you are now trust me. . Fear of the unknown is always bad so read up as much as you can. There are a great number of fact sheets on the main AFA website which you can look at and always feel free to ask any specific questions here. You are always welcome and this is a very supportive group.


This is soooo good! Great to feel that there are others out there who can give advice based on knowledge and personal experience. I do like the reminder that I was far more at risk before the surgery... I'd forgotten that completely!

Only thing I can add is that shortly after surgery I went into AF (I think they said that happens in 30 - 40% of post-ops), so the predisposition is there. Now I've just got to deal with it!

Re post surgery - I was experiencing fast AFib, on and off, for about 4-5 weeks before my operation. I was put into NSR during surgery. I know exactly what caused it to return a few days later: during the night I needed to go to the bathroom. I had slid right down the bed and due to dressings around my chest, I couldn't bend to get up. My buzzer had also slid out of reach, so I couldn't call the nurse, and I got into a total panic. I did manage to get myself out eventually but the panic and exertion is what put me back into AFib.

Note that if you are reading this and laughing, I am not offended. Wasn't funny at the time but a sense of humour definitely helps.

I love sweets, cake and biscuits but since I stopped eating them I feel so much better. I don't want to brag and tempt fate, but I've been the longest ever without PAF (4 months). I find now that if I eat a little of anything sweet I become aware of my heart doing a strong beat. I don't want AF back so will continue without these goodies.

I also avoid lying on my left side in bed.

Interesting, I also have a very sweet tooth but a month ago cut out cakes, chocs and more primarily because I thought I was moving into pre-diabetes. Result: ridiculous amount of peeing in the afternoon has gone and maybe has helped my PAF as episode free for 3 months since going onto 110mgs x2 per day Flec. Also avoid any lengthy lying on the left side in bed.

As posted before, the upside of AF is a much healthier lifestyle!

Interesting replies, every one... thank you! I guess the stress factor (will I, won't I have an episode?) is probably the main thing to avoid. And try as I might, I can't really pin-point any triggers. Though it's interesting to hear about slouching (I kind of think that did it for me) and disappointing to think I'll have to avoid most sweet things! I seem to have these episodes late at night, on my own, just when I need to s-l-e-e-p, and of course I THINK about having them, which makes me aware of my heartbeat. Vicious circle!

Mrspat's post surgery tale is humorous only in hind-sight... And I suppose that sums up the whole thing. It's all very different "after the event".

And to fill in the details, I actually had AF before my surgery too, but at the time the surgery was the priority I suppose.

I see my GP early next week and will give him the hospital discharge letter which asks that I be referred back to my cardiologist at the Brompton. Meanwhile I'll try to take the long view... and do a bit more research. Thank you again!

BobDVolunteer in reply to marksman6699

I had my three ablations at Brompton. Great team.


mumknowsbestVolunteer in reply to marksman6699

Hi just because sweet things are triggers for others doesn't mean you will. I was a chocoholic, have now given up chocolate and the heart rate etc is a lot worse, trouble is I have really lost my taste for it, but was certainly better eating more sweet things



SRMGrandma has been having huge success with her new diet, if you look up her posts you will find the details. I think basically a lot of healthy fruit and veggies and a lot less meat and she has really reduced the occurrence of AF. I am trying to work up the willpower to do something similar!


Again - can't thank you enough for your replies. So nice to know that we're not alone... Strength in numbers I guess!

Most of my episodes have been at night and I think with me, one of the triggers is feeling alone and isolated. Plenty of company during the day - but when it's time to sleep we close in on ourselves and are more aware of our bodies and maybe I've then too much time to think! Not really aware of my heart during the day, but kind of super-sensitive as soon as the light goes out... just at the time I want to r-e-l-a-x. Having said that, my last episode was at the end of a party with lots of distractions from all directions.

The next step will be to discuss a suitable treatment... "A" is for ablation!

And at least I've discovered this great forum...

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