Do you know the cause?

Promise this will be my last question for today :)

I've been researching the possible causes for my AF and clearly there are many possibilities. I was just wondering how many of you have managed to establish the root cause/causes of your particular condition.

I know I'm being somewhat irrational even thinking about this question at this early stage of my diagnosis but my brain is working overtime and having ruled out the possible causes that I am able to rule out (alcohol, nicotine, high blood pressure and stress for example) I have now convinced myself that because of family history I probably have some form of heart disease that has yet to manifest itself with any symptoms other than AF.

As I said, somewhat irrational at this stage but I hope none of you mind me putting down in writing what's going through my brain.

17 Replies

  • Hi!We are all different so it can be hard to figure out a reason. I have low BP but even so you need to get EP to give you anticoagulants and you will never be at risk of stroke and never feel embarrassed about going to ER when you are in afib.

    My EP etc thought I waslow risk, with low BP low cholesterol and good weight but they did not prescribe anticoagulant for me and I paid a heavy price. Episodes can get more frequent as you get older.

    Mine come and go in phases but now I have been given rate control meds.

    Also, I have learned not to rush around after breakfast or have any clothing compressed on my chest or not to lie on left side. But people have different triggers. I never have caffeine and i only like wine and it gives me migraine anyway, but we are all different. I get plenty of exercise and stay hydrated.

    it does not have to rule your life.

    My dad had coronary disease but no correlatoj was found. If their is a genetic predisposition then get FP to give you a statin, and tnis is important. I have been on one for 10 years. It is Atorvastatin.

  • Thanks for your reply pacific...

    I'm currently on the same statin and have been for around 10 years. My cholesterol has been at around 2 for the past five years or so and I did enquire whether I could come off the medication to see if I could keep my levels stable without medication. My GP advised against it and suggested providing I wasn't having any serious side effects then the benefits outweighed the risks.

    I guess the next important stage is for me to get an appointment with a consultant which I assume my doctor will refer me to when I go for my next appointment on Monday.

  • Your GP's argument is a common one that puzzles me. The stats from the website that NICE guidelines use for their evidence base states that statins may be effective for 450 heart, stroke or mortality incidents in 10,000. That's only 4.5%.

    Are the risks from side effects really that low, or are the benefits being over-estimated by health professionals?

  • Hi Concerned, I would add that a lot of cardiologists say that statins are over-prescribed. They also suppress the production of CoQ10 in the body, that is essential for correct muscle function. That's why a lot of folk on statins get muscle pain.


  • I completely agree. Despite fairly bad diet choices throughout my life my cholesterol has NEVER ever been an issue but my GP put me on them 3 years ago as a precaution, not because I needed them.

    My cholesterol has continued to get even better and I now test in the better than extraordinary scale!

    Having decided in January that I had to start being more proactive about my health I started to find out what all these medications were doing and decided that I would stop my statin - I KNOW my Dr would definitely disagree so there was no discussion with him.

    I will regularly (every 3 months) test my cholesterol) but a recent test after 3 months of stations showed no change...for me the possible side effects outweigh the possible benefits but if things change I will be back on them.

  • Are you assuming the evidence underpinning the cholesterol theory is more reliable?

    Good luck! :-D

  • AF can be either genetic or acquired. A genetic pre-disposition would allow for rogue cells to start firing off randomly. It is not a heart disease and frequently occurs in people with entirely mechanically fine and healthy hearts. Some people acquire AF from their activities. Endurance athletes and those who over train to excess are prime candidates. Fighter pilots sometimes suffer, no doubt due to the extra work their hearts have to do fighting the G forces. In many cases in younger people alcohol proves their undoing, particularly binge drinking but fortunately if it only happens once then it may never progress.

    It is said that AF begets AF so the more you have it the more you will get it. A very good reason to find the best solution, either medically or through intervention as soon as possible.

    Some people find relief from symptoms by changes to diet and searching for triggers whilst others search in vane. I thought several times that I had found a trigger but every time I ended up disappointed and in the end accepted that I had AF for no real reason--- and then went about getting rid of it. Three ablations later and seven years free. I have enjoyed those last seven years despite prostate cancer surgery, hormone treatment and radiotherapy, none of which I would have coped well with had I still AF.

    Try not to get too obsessed over AF as it really will not help. Not easy. Trust me I know very well. The best mantra is AF may be in my life but it is not all of my life.


  • I would just like to temper this Bob with some doctors state that the 'pre-disposition' and 'firing off randomly' are in fact influenced by lifestyle, and in particular how lifestyle affects the hormonal signals that govern the body's function.

  • The plain fact is that as of now, nobody actually knows! We know what it is but not why some people get it and others not. Once that conundrum is solved we can make some progress in finding a CURE. I said elsewhere, you are what you think so yes lifestyle may be a contributing factor for some people but not sadly everybody.


  • Do you think part of that conundrum may be exacerbated by sticking with the status quo of what we think we know, rather than looking at the evidence for what is actually beneficial to life? I'm thinking of the Channel 4 programme about the World's healthiest diet; the Icelandic diet isn't high in fruit & vegetables, nor carbohydrate. It is low in processed foods (especially refined vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates), sweeteners, preservatives, colourings, and additives.

    In this country we seem to think that refined carbs such as Weetabix and Shredded Wheat (that both spike insulin levels) are whole-grains and good for us?

  • Awesome I so like your attitude. Gonna adopt your mantra

  • I think mine is basically genetic as I am a copy of my dad and reckon he had it as well, but didn't know what it was back then. I remember him describing his "murmur" and him being breathless etc. Also think life-style and personality have attributed as well.

  • Mine too is almost certainly genetic as my mother had AF, but she was only told that 4 months before her death from cancer at the age of 60. Looking back she was not a very energetic person and the AF was probably why.

    My sister had a spell of AF for a few years and then it just went. Her sessions only lasted about 20 minutes. My cousin has it too, so I guess it's in the family. However I know that certain foods can trigger mine and I avoid artificial sweeteners and any foods with artificial additives of any kind. Stress is also another trigger.


  • I am stable at the moment but if I were to have a drink of alcohol in the evening I know I would get palpitations at about 4 Oclock in the morning.

    My brother also has AF.

    I guess what I am saying is that it is a difficult question to answer. In my case is it alcohol or genetics that triggers my AF?

    I think if you are guided by the very excellent volunteers we have on line you will hopefully come to terms with your AF and how to manage same.

    Lastly never beat your self up about asking questions, it is how we learn to cope with AF and as Bob will say, "knowledge is power".

    Good luck on your AF journey


  • In retrospect I've had Afib along time. About thirty years ago I went to the doctor because I was having palpitations of the heart. He said I had an erratic heart beat and let it go at that. Had an issue with over the counter cold meds. Almost put me in the hospital .Felt like my heart was going through my chest. Fast forward to the last few years. Started to have more frequent "issues" with my heart. Combination of exercise,heart blockages and afib put me in the hospital. Does an erratic heart beat qualify you as a candidate for Afib. Don't know. It definitely should have made me aware but instead I ignored it. My family history with heart problems also should have made me aware but I ignored it. I just wrote their history off to smoking excessively and bad living habits. As Bob says some people are predisposed to having Afib and some not. My signs were there I just chose not to see them. Hey, it is was it is. Now I just make the best off what I've got and continue to go forward LIVING one day at a time. Afib changed my life. It didn't end it.

  • My overall thoughts are the cause is more likely to be a combination of lifestyle, food and other drugs taken leaching the good stuff e.g. Magnesium. I believe it is difficult to point to one cause because it most cases it is probably a number of individual factors which build some ways this is good news as if a number of changes are made it can be to some degree reset and can be lived with.

  • I too have done extensive research on cause. I think stress and how a person handles it is a factor. I've had 3 afib events in 15 years. First a bee sting. 2nd, getting ready for church (that can be stressful, eh?), 3rd day after Xmas, woke up at 4am in afib. Some say its called Christmas heart. But then again, I'm a commercial pilot!!! You think that might be stressful. I must be able to handle that a bit better perhaps. But the last time I had an episode, I had the doc do a magnesium check as part of my blood work. Sure enuf, it was way deficient. Low magnesium I have found has a direct correlation to afib. I now take it twice a day. Some Mg supps are better than others. I take Magnesium Oxide 400 mg twice a day now. Next appt with my doc, I'm going to have him check my Mg level. One's body depending on personal chemistry might not be able to assimilate it into their blood. So it might not be that a person has a deficiency of it in their diet, but it may be an issue of an inability to absorb it. Check out magnesium and afib links on line. Quite interesting. Hope this helps. I'm 62 and have "lone afib". Both my parents had pace makers and our daughter who is 36 is beginning to experience a good deal of PACs.. Its not so much a "disease" though the medical community labels AFIB as such, as it is a pure electrical dysfunction of the heart. But they say you are what you eat and its all about chemistry. Diabetics take insulin. Maybe AFIB folks need to mainline Mg!!!

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