AF attack or Tachycardia after drinking Alcohol

Paying the price maybe! I celebrated a family members Birthday 7 days ago and drank more than I would normally. ok ok 4 pints of Bitter over 8 hours. Normal for me would be 1-3 pints per week.

A day later I suffered a 2 minute spell of what seemed to be a normal heart rate but irregular (it just could not seem to get it right). Physical feelings were, this does not feel good with breathing interrupted by what felt like gas coming up. Since then I have had the odd feeling of what could be an Ectopic beat every so often but since it lasted for such a short time, was unable to feel for it. I have just had a 6 second run of what I assume was Tachycardia (very rapid, too fast to count and irregular maybe).

I had my second Ablation 2 years ago and have suffered these odd short bursts on a fairly irregular basis since (2-3 months between incidents). I can get a week or two of odd sensations that culminates in a 6 second burst where I feel like I am about to kick the bucket but, which seems to kick it back into touch for a few months (fingers crossed for this time).

I have made numerous visits to my Doctor to discuss this and Bob has also offered words of reassurance. My Doctor does not seem to be concerned and has given me the option of taking a tablet (Bisoprolol) when it plays up (hmm, but it only lasts for seconds, I would be taking it afterwards), or take it all the time which is pointless if it only occurs every couple of months and does so even when taking the tablet daily.

I know I am an anxious person and with a logical mind, would be a lot happier if we had an ECG reading for correct diagnosis of the problem since, they are drawing conclusion based on my description only.

I have explained that my fear is that the next bout may go on for longer than seconds and what then? My doctors response was, 'it won't'. He sees no point in sending me to see an EP or arranging for a 7 day + monitor. His logic being that they will not do anything about it anyway. This sensation is different from the PAF I suffered prior to Ablation, that was 2-5 hours of rapid irregular pulse that made me feel out of breath. Although this sensation only lasts seconds, to me it is more sinister.

Could the alcohol just be coincidence given 7 days have passed? Should I be more insistent on getting a 7 day monitor reading or seeing an EP.

I know it takes a while for you to get your confidence back after an ablation but these bouts just take me back to being anxious.

17 Replies

  • I think the key is in your last paragraph.

    Since my ablation a year ago, I still get the odd ectopic, ectopic runs lasting an hour or so and what I can only describe as burbles lasting for a second or two. Also had 5 bouts of tachycardia which settled with a PIP. All making me very anxious and no doubt that this has added to the problem.

    The condition tests the mental resolve!

  • What is PIP?

  • Pill in pocket, that is a dose you take only when having an episode.

  • Of course, stupid me. That is what they describe Flecanide as but I will not be taking that.

  • I think my first question would be 'how fit are you ?'. This sounds like a heart irregularity but is one most people have, and if you are fit it shouldn't be an issue.

  • Good question Mike. My AF was particularly bad for about 18 months and would result in me sitting it out for maybe 3 days at a time towards the end. My job has me sitting in front of a computer for most of the day so no where near as fit as I used to be. I think it comes down to confidence now and just how far I dare push it.

    I asked my doctor for advice on exerting myself and he said just be reasonable. So I asked whether it was ok to ride my bike and his response was, I wouldn't do that. It is frustrating when in one breath he tells me that I have had more tests done on my heart than the average person has in a life time and that it is all ok but then says I wouldn't ride a bike.

  • Hmm - doesn't sound the best advice but your GP can see you.

    I had a quad bypass in 2010 and then resolved to get properly fit. I was what I thought was fit before but was told it was the wrong type of fitness - anerobic rather than aerobic. But despite a Maze procedure during the bypass AF slowly appeared which I kept at bay for 3 years by staying really fit by long walks before it became too much and I couldn't exercise enough so I had the ablation which has worked well. But despite my job being desk based I'm religious about getting exercise every day.

  • One medic (not one of those actually treating me) said that actually people who needed a triple or quadruple bypass were actually in many ways very much better off than with many people with "electrical problems with the heart such as AF, SVTs, etc. The results and outcomes of bypasses are very predictable and pretty consistent the recovery levels and periods much more predictable. Also with lifestyle changes,medicines, etc, chances of success are very high and chances of repeats low.

  • Unfortunately the stress of a heart bypass can 'mess with the electrics' and lead to AF in due course, as I'm pretty sure it did with me.

  • True. You were one of the very small percentage who was unlucky.

  • Doctors like yours are very frustrating and only add to the problem. What you need is someone that can tell you straight up whether this is something to be concerned about or not by running the proper tests. But my guess is that it is related to the alcohol. I can't even have an occassional glass of wine without it affecting the heart and it takes weeks to settle back down. I have been on an event monitor where I was instructed to call the technician each time I felt the symptoms that you are describing, and each time I was told that it was a "run" and no need to be concerned. This nay or may not be what you have, but the symptoms sound very similar. If your insurance allows it, I would find another doctor willing to put your mind at ease as anxiety plays a role too.

  • It would seem that it is not necessarily the amount of Alcohol but the luck of the draw and maybe other factors at the time. I notice there is a day or 2 between Alcohol and a problem and not always as a rule therefore it has been difficult to connect the two. I am a real ale fan and giving it up completely is going to be difficult.

    I guess that I wrongly considered that the ablations would prevent any triggers from getting through to cause a problem.

    My main concern is that I do not remember getting these symptoms before the ablation and wonder whether something else has been triggered. That said, I think we become more aware of our heart after suffering from AF with all of its quirks for some time.

    I agree that if it is the alcohol, it does take 2-3 weeks before it settles back down again. I wonder whether the AF path is still partly open or whether it is unrelated.

  • Giving up my wine was very difficult for me too as I loved to binge on special occasions. My cardiologist told me to limit those nights to one glass of wine, but my gp said that I just have to learn my own limits. I know how badly it affects me, though, so I'm afraid to let loose the way I used to... This especially stinks because relaxing and dancing was how I used to relieve stress and now that is gone.

    Hope you find your triggers. Please report back to this post if you find out... I'm really curious as to whether ablations open new pathways to new problems.

  • Well my first ablation was brilliant for 1 month, I felt really good with no blips. All hell then broke loose with AF running at 136 and what was probably SVT's running between 175-200. I went down hill rapidly and the last resort Amiodarone IV's infected both arms which resulted in weeks of antibiotics. I was fast tracked for a 'redo' and if I was to be totally honest it did not fix me as well as the first one felt during those 4 weeks of bliss. That said, the second ablation was 2 years, 4 months ago and I have not had anything that has lasted more than about 20 seconds since, therefore, I should be grateful.

    Like I said though, when the sensation starts it catches you off guard and panic sets in immediately since you are expecting that it is the end.

    You did not say whether you have had an ablation yet.

  • I don't think the alcohol causes Episodes for me, but actually the dehydration. I find if I drink enough water that day and the morning after I stay symptom free!! (Obviously I do not drink loads lol)

  • Thank you Dee, I considered that may also be a factor. I think I read somewhere that if you drink a pint of beer, it may be wise to drink a pint of water afterwards. You can just see that working in a Pub, a pint of Evian sir, yes that will be double the price of the pint of beer and no, you cannot have tap water.

  • Ha ha, yes I try to drink enough water that day, and half a pint before I got to bed seems to help! X

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