Exercise, BP, Alcohol, Anti Coagulants and Ad Fib

Can those with more experience in Ad Fib tell me whether Anti Coagulants ie Axiban be prescribed long term ? Is there a direct link with AF and high BP and also alcohol use? Lastly. Should I exercise like I used to running yoga and cycling This site is so helpful. Thank you. I've had my first episode this Christmas. Terrifying. Before this I had terrible night sweats I now have stopped alcohol and reduced night sweats.

20 Replies

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  • Hello Elaine and welcome to our world. In no particular order:-

    Binge drinking has been cited as one cause of AF but basically if you have a predisposition to it, anything can be a trigger. Over exercise such as endurance training is also a well known cause in younger people. High blood pressure may not be directly linked to AF as many people with AF have normal BP but it doesn't help.---Anything!

    Many of us are on anticoagulants for life. If you need them due to being at high stroke risk why would you not be?

    Gentle exercise is always good. Let your body guide you.

    I would also urge you to go to AF Association main website where you will find all manner of fact sheets on all aspects of AF and its treatment.

  • Thank you. Very helpful. Just not keen on being on permanent anti coagulants if no reason !

  • Welcome to the mad world of AF - yes I know one that we would definitely all rather not be part of!!!!

    I had started writing some of the things that Bob has covered but here are a few more.

    I would get yourself checked out by your GP if you have not already done so. Also get your GP to refer you straight to an Electrophysiologist (EP) as they are the electricians of the body world and an ordinary cardiologist is effectively the plumber. We have all got problems with the electrics!!!!

    Keep your own copies of all tests including ECGs. Get a full set of blood tests done as a baseline and to check that there aren't other things lurking.

    At least a year before I was formally diagniosed with AF I used to sweat easily but not too much at night. I drank alcohol but not a lot (less than government guidelines.

    Bob's words re exercise are spot on in my view. In fact his words let your body guide you also apply during the day. If you feel tired and knackered during the day then take time out or have a snooze if possible. Tiredness can trigger / exacerbate AF.

    When you are reading up on things make notes what it is and where it is. Very frustrating if you want to refr back in a couple of months time and can't find it.

    Keep a few different logs.

    -..... One for events (date, time, what it is, what you did, etc).

    -..... One for all medical appointments and tests.

    -..... One for all medicine changes (new, stopped, quantity changes and include ad-hoc ones such as paracetamol (you should NOT take ibuprofen or derivatives as you now have AF according to a Danish study and many medics wil tell you that).

    I am guessing that Anticoagulation has already been discussed / decided on as you mention Apixaban.

    Don't be scared to ask questions on here because many are only too willing to help. Definitely worthwhile using the search function on here to find past posts and responses to questions.

    Good luck.

  • Thank you. So very helpful

  • Hi Elaine,

    Well written words of wisdom from BobD and PeterWh. The only thing I would add is of a more general nature. The whacky world of AF is just that - whacky - it is all things to all people all the time. One trigger for you maybe totally different for 100 others. A given treatment for you may also be different for another 100 others. Hence listen to your body is the go in my view. Then of course there is the old 'catch all' - the medication you use may not work for others. In effect it is a pure, pure mongrel condition.

    My daughter was 30 when she developed AF arising from her first pregnancy. I forget now how it was treated but it subsided and returned with her second pregnancy. She was treated again, (can't remember now) but this time decided to take up Thai Kick Boxing and working out in a gym environment. So she has kicked AF out of her life - mind you she has had no more kids either !!! She is also like a stick man now (woman in her case). But then one must consider that she most likely had a predisposition to AF in the first place. As indeed so did/do I, and there is a thread of AF running in the family (paternal side only).

    When I 'went down' with AF, I initially, actually had no cardiac feelings/symptoms at all. It was early January 2010, I just felt as if I was going down with a cold/ flu like symptoms. I have my own BP monitor and it was my BP that gave me clues as to something amiss. As the day wore on I felt worse and began taking my BP. This went wild and whacky, totally ballistic but with a falling trend line. In those days my average BP was around 136/80 ... with the falling trend line it dropped to 90/50. Rang my GP, he saw me immediately, rang hospital, got me in immediately and the rest is history. Within 9 hours of onset AF had been diagnosed and treatment started.

    I have been a lover of alcohol for most of my life and I've cut back on it. I haven't cut it out and I have to say although I've reduced it has only been in the last 3 months or so and not for any cardiac reasons, more from general nagging by my new GP. I'm on Warfarin and Bisoprolol for AF along with a BP medication and a statin and I've really made no concessions to AF, or my medications etc at all. I have changed my diet (food for me was a trigger) and tried to improve my lifestyle which seems to be effective.

    Because of the nature of this beast my view is to listen to your body, you know it best and DO NOT BE SCARED of this demon. If I were as young and as athletic as you I would not cease those activities you describe BUT, I would closely monitor them. Unless that is you have been diagnosed with any structural issues with your heart of course. There are nowadays quality fitness trackers out there in the market place. If you haven't got one it might be an idea to research these products and keep a diary of things.

    Good luck. May the force be with you.

    John

  • Thank you so much for tacking the time to write. Your words are helpful and wise. This site is so helpful. Sharing is crucial. Good wishes to you

  • Hi Elaine, congratulations on recognising the issue and finding us here....it took me a lot longer.

    I think the replies you have had are spot on. Loose no time in researching, implementing and staying in control. Don't be pushed in any one direction by a medic until you have looked at, implemented and tested a variety of solutions - emergencies excepted of course.

    Good luck.

  • Thank you. Following your gut feeling v important but hearts are not something to mess with !

  • Dear elaine1951, I was interested to read the temperature changes you experience.

    I do not consume any alcohol .... I have suffered from night sweats- since first experiencing A/F (March 2014). Strangely enough, I seem to follow a similar pattern-in that I suffer from a period of cold hands and feet prior to the next onset of A/F:

    I can almost predict my next period of A/F. ???

    This last episode, starting Thursday (New Years Eve) is still unresolved.... I am still in A/F..... The medication will not help me this time.

    My pacemaker is not helping me.. needs adjusting?

    The last two episodes of continuous A/F could not be influenced by drugs.... But each time -I have had a very long ,hot shower? First time, I went back into NSR and was able to stay stable enough for a DDDR implant . I had been waiting 6 days in Hospital for this ! SSS complicated the medication regime.

    This time... the hot shower seems to reduce the rate rapidly... down to about 120.

    My A/F was the result of being given Levothyroxine (under protest) for 5 weeks.... when a Consultant finally checked with the Path Lab to discover ... I was borderline only -hypothyroidism. I should never had been given the Levothyroxine in the first place?

    The very reason for my protest...... Doctor always knows best???

    I would respectfully advise you to keep a complete record of all events , keep all notes, all hospital Patient Discharge summaries, and ask Ambulance, Nurses, Doctors for copies of all ECG's..... anything relevant to your condition.

    I also keep a copy of all my medication prescriptions to date. Do not rely on memory!

    Each time I am in difficulty... I have my information pack ready -with my medication bag.... Saves a lot of time and helps everyone to quickly recognise the condition... and fast track you at Hospital. In my case -straight to Resus to be stabilised.

    I find it very helpful to read all the comments.... We are all different ,but share a common gaol....to get to understand A/F

    I wish you well

  • Thank you. Good advice. Indeed. Do you think AF linked to poor circulation ?

  • Hi Sheppey - Just wanted to say that I too can experience a return to normal sinus rhythm after taking a shower. I put it down to a combination of hot water and also bending to wash my feet. I first discovered this when having a bout of fast AF and getting ready to go to my GP or A+E and having my daily shower before setting off. Now it often works, but sometimes my attacks make me feel too ill to even consider a shower. A nurse neighbour of mine who gets 'palpitations' manages to stop them just by bending down.

    Jean

  • At least 3 or 4 times a week I take a long hot bath. I started this some years ago when it was recommended by my chiropractor who I started seeing after a road crash. However although I am in persistent AF I find it does sooth the heart probably due to total relaxation.

  • Thanks PeterWh, I really have to pluck up a lot of determination to get into my shower cubicle of late.... It really takes my breath away?

    Having a long bath to relax seems a better option for me.... but I only have a shower unit in my bathroom.

    Given your good advice... I will try the hot bath -next time I go into Hospital. It is making me relax ,just thinking about it!

    cheers.

  • Interesting

  • Thanks Jean, I questioned a consultant Cardiologist regarding this... He raised his arms ,and replied ... "We just don't Know"

    I asked another Doctor, who replied "probably coincidence" ?

    I do know the drugs did not work for me... but the hot shower did....?

    Also I get very cold feet and hands prior to another run of fast A/F ?

    Unfortunately, Had to have woollen bed socks and double blanket last night again..... But just starting 10mg Bisoprolol WITH 250mcg Digoxin.. hopes this keeps rate down? Still in A/F 90-130HR .... or pick any number?

    I do not seem to be able to control my body temperature.... I am either very hot ,sweating (or) very cold??

    I believe ,perhaps, this may have something to do with the condition?

    Jean ,I understand how you feel so ill with A/F.... I am frightened to move.. I get so short of breath, confused, dizzy, nausea, my chest hurts so much and tightness..... it is frightening? When it is very fast.... I am so relieved to see the Paramedic crew - God Bless them.

    I am so disappointed that after a long wait for my Pacemaker for SSS.... the medication is not working for me?

  • I have persuaded consultant to move me from warfarin to apix. I think you need to recognise that anti-coags need to be taken for rest of life but the management of them may be an issue . Apix for me a better choice but Greater Glasgow Health Board would not sanction their use for AFIB . Therefore made complaint and copied Scottish Gov . Health Sec . in . That changed attitude. This condition has required me to fight all the way to get appropriate treatment . God Bless AFA and this forum for their help. Incidentally , I would keep off alcohol .

  • I have indeed stopped alcohol

  • Hi Elaine

    I'd go along with everything that the others have said and would add two extra comments (one about exercise and the other about alcohol).

    Exercise

    I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes quite a few years ago and was put onto 'diet and exercise' (ie no medication). Bought a rowing machine and got into the routine of rowing 4/5 mornings a week. When my AF was finally diagnosed in 2012, I upped my rows to every morning. I now do a 20 minute row, followed by sit-ups, steps and light weights which comes to a total of about 35 minutes of cardio vascular exercise.

    The point of this very long introduction is that my AF episodes usually start during the night and I find that if I go ahead with my usual exercise routine I can get my heart rate back to normal just over half way through the routine. BUT THAT WORKS FOR ME, it might not be appropriate for everyone. Regular cardio vascular exercise must be good for pretty well anyone who gets AF, I should think.

    Alcohol

    I was a regular fairly heavy drinker (not alcoholic, but exceeded government guide lines) and do believe that this body abuse was probably the cause of my AF.

    I still enjoy a drink but am very careful (almost obsessive!!) about how much I have - never exceed 2 units - and maybe only have a drink 3 or 4 times a week.

    So, as to your comment about alcohol, I would say do have an occasional drink. Your body will tell you if you have too much.

    Hope this is reassuring

    Kind regards

    Chris M

  • It's v helpful. Like you I instinctively feel that alcohol puts a load on the body that adds to the likelihood of problems for the body generally

  • Hi Elaine

    I know AF can be scary but we live with it and generally it is not life threatening, although it can sometimes feel as though it is.

    Great advice above, nothing much to add other than say Alcohol WAS a trigger for me, even a sip would put me into AF as it progressed over a 10 year period, but it was only a trigger. I stopped drinking alcohol and still had AF.

    After treatment I have no more AF episodes and can drink alcohol in moderation - I still cannot however, drink caffeinated coffee without it triggering tachycardia - fast heart beat which is often a pre-cursor to AF.

    There are many, many triggers - for some it is exercise whilst others find it helps eliminate an episode.

    Whilst healthy lifestyle with good, 'clean' diet, predominately plant base, moderate exercise and weight control and control of sleep apnea are all positive lifestyle changes which not only assist in the treatment of AF, but are also just good for your general health, you do have to have a pre-disposition toward AF which is thought to run in families, my father suffered from it, so sometimes whatever you do or not do you may have AF episodes.

    BUT there are good drugs and treatments so it need not impede your life too much, unless you allow it to.

    Ask any questions you may have - there is a wealth of knowledge and support here, you are not alone.

    Very best wishes - CD

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