Weight Loss and Reduced Number of AF Episodes

After reading a couple of articles re PAF and weight loss and consulting with my GP, I bought a fitbit and joined the local weightwatchers class (to make a commitment) at the end of March.

Since then, over about 10 weeks I've lost almost 2st (13kg) and I've about another stone (7kg) to go to reach a healthy BMI.

I used to have a reasonable number of short AF episodes lasting a minute or two, probably about 1 or 2 a week, sometimes quite a lot more, and take PIP Flecainide as required. I also had some longer episodes lasting from an hour or so (on occasion needing to go to A&E and be converted) about every two months or so.

Since starting my weight loss I've seen a dramatic drop in my short episodes and (touch wood) not had any longer episodes as yet.

Evidently I used to snore badly and this is also much better now. I also feel so much better in myself than I have for years.

It's too early for me to be absolutely sure that my AF is going to stay this way but the indications are good so far.

I'm on 5mg Bisoprolol and I've also seen my resting heart rate drop from about 65 to about 52. I was worried about this at first and visited my Cardiologist who was not at all concerned as I never feel faint or see any other issues. He also confirmed that losing weight would very likely be of benefit with my AF. My BP has also dropped a little.

I'd recommend anyone with PAF who is overweight to speak to their GP and consider getting some of the fat off. 10% body weight loss can evidently make a marked improvement. ( news.heart.org/losing-weigh... )

I'm surprised that GPs and Cardiologists don't promote this as a potential benefit for those with PAF. If I hadn't been proactive and read up on this then I don't believe they would have mentioned it to me.

Has anyone else seen reduced PAF episodes due to their weight loss?

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25 Replies

  • Well done you! Definately a first course of action and my surgery definately focus on lifestyle first and foremost as does my EP. The only critic I could have is that they do it somewhat hesitatingly and I believe that is because they often receive abuse for suggesting it!

  • We have been promoting life style and diet changes here for some time I'm glad to say and indeed some doctors are very keen on it. With so many people in the western world so seriously overweight it can do nothing but good. Sleep Apneoa (and snoring) can both be attributed to excess weight and have been linked to AF.

    Well done and keep up the good work. I've just lost 1/2 stone thanks to a change of blood pressure drugs and can feel the benefits. (Legs back to normal size again thank goodness). Sad to say that many of the drugs we are presented with can lead to weight gain and it is an ongoing battle.

  • Hi Bob, how can I find out which medications cause weight gain? I struggle so hard to lose weight but just can't shift it. I've asked my GP about this but he denies that either the BP meds or the betablockers cause weight gain. I also think they cause an irritable cough and I am certain the betablockers interfere seriously with my sleep, I've not had a decent sleep since I've been on them. Any advice would be really welcome. Thanks. Tricia

  • Hi Tricia - re the dry cough - yes BBlockers are known to potentially cause this also ACE inhibitors used in high blood pressure can do the same ' the ACE cough'. Hope this helps - Cathy

  • Thanks. It's a nuisance but I suppose the lesser of the two evils! Tricia

  • According to the doctor on the Jeremy Vine show, bisoprolol is on the list of drugs likely to cause weight gain so I guess all betablockers will do the same. X

  • Well done for such an impressive weight loss with its physical impact on your AF. You must be feeling on top of the world and that too will help your overall health. Best wishes with that last stone.

  • Yes I have, Drounding. Starting in March, I did an 800 calorie a day blood sugar diet, for eight weeks, followed by the 5-2 diet (5 days eat normally, 2 days fasting). I did it because I am diabetic. I discovered that diabetes can be reversed, and there are many good spin- offs from going on a low carb high fat diet. I have lost a lot of weight, my blood sugar is near normal level, my BMI is normal, my cholesterol is down, my blood pressure is down and my af is improving! I am getting fewer episodes now. I am hoping to come off a few meds eventually, like statin, metformin, beta blocker...I would also like to use flecainide as a pip, as well. (I would leave the anti-coagulant alone as I believe I need that for the rest of my life, for protection against stroke.) I will be talking to my doctor very soon about all this. I'm a bit reluctant to push things about meds especially, and I'm not sure how my gp will feel about the overthrow of received wisdom about dieting. We've been brainwashed since the 1980's about low fat high carb diets being the only way to go. The lchf diet is a way of life now, and my hb has benefited enormously too. We have done it together. My son, who also has af, is also trying to lose weight because he has been told it will improve his af. (By me, of course, but also his doctor, good man!) Whatever way you approach dieting, losing weight can only be good for you (if you're overweight! ) I agree with you about being proactive. Well done for losing all that weight! I bet, like me, you feel so much better for it. JanR

  • Well done Jan! Very good to hear as it must have been difficult to keep to 800 cals daily for 8 weeks


  • Sandra, it was difficult to start with, but we were both very committed, which made us take a grin and bear it attitude. Some of the recipes were frankly awful! But we tried everything, ending up by picking and choosing from the ones we liked. My hb is a super cook, and I have improved my role as meal and shopping planner. So it's team work with a focus. 😃

  • That's great Jan, glad it's working for you, both for your diabetes and AF.

    I don't diet in the same way - I just cut down my portion size and now eat more protein and less carbs, no sugary foods and less fats like butter and spreads. Whatever way you diet I think it's the weight loss and related benefits that matter the most as long as you eat a balanced diet.

    I'm not sure about wanting to cut down on any AF meds just yet, in some month's time I might discuss it with my GP. I'm not on any anti-coags.

    Because I feel better I'm also able to get out walking more which adds to my fitness, I was in a vicious circle before.

  • Hello this is my first post on this site, as I am newly diagnosed with PAF, following an early morning visit to A&E. (My gp put the arrhythmia down to depression which wasn't the case). Causation not clear. I am overweight but not obese, and am determined to lose some additional weight. I so agree about low carb as being the right approach for weight loss. Meanwhile, I am encounterring difficulty getting to see an EP.... Meds include bisoprolol (3.75 and rising) and rivaroxaban as anti coagulant. AF episodes only at night or early morning, but it seems no local awareness of vagal AF.

  • Is it GP saying no? If so challenge. Can you afford to see an EP privately the first time and then switch to their NHS list? Likely costs £150 to £300 but check as quite variable.

  • Well this has inspired me to lose a little weight. When I think about it my AF only started when I put weight on. Thank you for posting and long may you benefit from being slimmer.


  • Go for it Jean, you ll never regret it. Jan

  • Very well done. I also decided to follow a similar strategy and lost nearly three stone.

    I suffered from PAF and episodes lasted between 12 and 20 hours. At its peak I was having 2 to 3 episodes per week. In addition to the prescribed medication, I changed my diet, gave up alcohol and started taking a magnesium supplement. My last episode was over 13 months ago so something is working.

    The downside is that I had to buy new clothes and my wife thinks I look older and more wrinkled (probably because I am older and more wrinkled!!).

    I understand that I still snore but not as badly. My resting heart rate is around 50 but is often in the 40's and has been in the 30's. The GP is not worried as I don't get dizzy etc.

    It is still early days and the real test will come if and when I start to reduce the medication.

    A longer term challenge will be to keep the weight off. Fashionable, fad and crash diets seldom work longer term. You have to build things into your lifestyle.

    Good luck for the future.

  • Craggy, you're right about dieting being a lifestyle change. We have been trying for twenty years to just put a halt to the gradual weight gain that accompanies aging. We have no intention of ever letting it get a hold on us again. You're right too about the wrinkles 😣 I m trying to ignore it, and think of all the other benefits instead. Maybe we ll compare notes on the reduction of meds in due course. Jan

  • Yes, I have had very little unoticeble AF since I lost 35lb. Keep it up

  • Inspiring stories - you guys are amazing. I'm so impressed! I've been trying to lose weight since my ablation at the end of March - 11lb so far which tbh sounds a bit pathetic compared to all of you but you have inspired me to keep going!

    Thanks for sharing your positive experiences


  • Very interesting read, thanks all.

    My EP has casually mentioned in the past that it would be better for my health to lose weight. However, the consultant I saw a couple of weeks back told me that there had been new research published very recently which showed conclusively that AF is linked to weight. He very strongly recommended that I joined Weightwatchers or Slimming World to lose weight and help keep AF at bay.

    Following a Cardioversion and two Ablations, I am currently in NSR (and have been mainly for a year). Your story, Drounding, is inspiring, and I really am going to do something positive to try to keep it that way.


  • I was diagnosed with PAF 6 mo ago, treated with sotalol which I hated due to side effects and bradycardia. Finally saw an EP a month ago. He stopped all meds, put me on PIP, and talked to me at great length re life style change. He said if I would get healthy ie better diet(7 veggie servings a day), lose 50 lb and exercise my PAF would either go away or at least be less aggressive. So Im working on it. No a fib yet, have felt palpitations which last a few seconds but go away , if I get really fatigued and stressed. Ive not felt better in years. I know a fib could show up anytime but I sure am enjoying freedom from meds for now and joined a gym, learning mindfullness meditation, doing what he asked. In a way a fib has made me stop and reevaluate my life and make things better.

  • That's great Hoski. It just goes to show that lifestyle, mental attitude, diet and exercise, play such an important role in our general health and wellbeing.

  • Well done. Losing weight and getting a healthy BMI will have lots of health benefits as well as reducing PAF attacks

    I have had exactly the same experience and I feel really fit and well both physically and mentally.

    Keep it up and don't let the weight creep back on

  • It's now about 2 months since I posted this and I thought I'd give some feedback as an update.

    I've now lost 3 stone (19kg) and have just 7lbs (3kg) to go. My resting heart rate has stabilised at about 52bpm.

    My episodes of PAF have almost completely gone, no long episodes at all, and I can only remember having two very short episodes that lasted just a few seconds each and similarly almost no ectopics either. I have started taking Magnesium Taurate, one tablet of 125mg per day, which may also be helping. I haven't needed to take my Flecainide PIP for weeks now.

    I'm now able to do much more walking (even with the daily 5mg Bisoprolol) and feel tremendously better in myself. I'm told my snoring has also stopped as well :) .

    The weight loss benefits have been tremendous and far outweigh (pardon the pun) the effort. I would rate this on a par with my stopping smoking many years ago. I'm really glad I came across the weight loss article and I must give thanks to Dr Sanjay Gupta for his informative advice, it's been both an eye-opener and a game-changer for me.

  • Brilliant. Well done!! Thanks for update.

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