Headache prior to AF? Throwing up as a trig... - AF Association

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Headache prior to AF? Throwing up as a trigger?


Hi, does anyone ever get a headache (or nausea) BEFORE going into AF? Just wondering as both times I have had a stupendous headache before ... but might be a coincidence. And I rarely get headaches that aren't sinus or allergy. And also I threw up a lot just before going into AF both times and can quite see how that might have triggered it ... seeing as how the stomach is in the general heart-like area :) note my advanced medical knowledge there ...

12 Replies

Hi Scotcitz, you've made me laugh with your medical knowledge comment and I thank you for that.

I can't say I've ever felt nauseous or had a headache before going in to AF. What I do get is a day when I feel energetic and extremely well, which prompts me to do lots (mainly in the garden cutting hedges, weeding and mowing grass) and then whack that evening it hits me. It's happened so many times now that you would think I'd know better, but no I can't help but make the most of feeling so lively.


Hi Jean, I do that, just can't help myself.


Which came first, the chicken or the egg? My guess is that you have a predisposition to AF which is triggered by vagal stimulation as in being sick rather than the AF causing the sickness. What your basic medical knowledge is telling you about is the vagus nerve which I describe as the main neural superhighway between brain, gut, heart and a few other organs. Hence what affects one can ditto affect others.

It isn't impossible for it to be the other way round in that vibrations within the area caused by variations in heart beat could cause nausea. Way back when, years before I was diagnosed my ignorant GP being told of a fluttery feeling here (pointing at bottom of rib cage ) brought loads of test for hiatus hernia, ulcers etc over many years and it was not until I moved house and GP that my new one (an educated one) actually diagnosed AF and then of course it all fell into place.

Many people find food triggers so my advice would be to make a diary of events along with what foods you may have eaten. This may be helpful in reducing events but remember you have AF so anything. everything or nothing can be a trigger.

Read all you can from the main AF Association website by the way. Knowledge is power.

scotcitz in reply to BobD

Thanks Bob. I think it is the vomiting as a trigger. My husband is blaming a rather elaborate trip to Europe just before (which included some sleep disruption in coming back to the US) but I would rather NOT blame a fun holiday :) and stick with the vomiting. However, that can be a little hard to avoid ... but still ...

Interesting description Bob. I used almost the same words to describe my symptoms to a GP. He looked at me as if I had fallen off the moon, clearly baffled.

As Bob says the Vagus Nerve sounds the culprit. Some more detective work required as to the triggers, which can be simple e.g. a type of food (sugar, gluten), caffeine or alcohol. Also, as the brain is involved with the Vagus Nerve, it could be that European trip had a part to play, hyping up your parasympathetic system which when you get home is still doing '20 to the dozen'. My theory is that in us normal folk (i.e. not a professional athlete) it is not one thing but several which need addressing to stop one issue, insignificant in its self, causing the AF to trip. I addressed work & domestic stress, diet, gut health, exercise, supplements simultaneously. Hope something in that helps.

I have had a headache sometimes and also get nausea and general unwell feeling before attacks.

scotcitz in reply to denny-62

THanks, that is helpful that is how I would describe how I felt.

First time I ever had AF (20 years ago) was after throwing up all night due to something I had eaten.

scotcitz in reply to MS444

I also threw up literally all night right before the first time I had afib, never thrown up that much before or since (well MAYBE when I was teen and had 8 beers or whatever at once). It's the kind where you just can't stop although there is nothing left maybe that's a wee bit too graphic ... Ironically I was throwing up like crazy due to a reaction to morphine they gave me in the hospital for a gallbladder attack right before my first afib attack 4 years ago. Didn't know I was one of those people that can't tolerate morphine ... But were this is helpful MS444 is maybe I should keep an anti-emetic in the house, there's a thought.

I normally feel sick and a little anxious prior to an af episode but feel this afterwards as well, confusing isn't it?

scotcitz in reply to Denise-

Tell me about it :)

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