I'm a little confused here. I was diagnosed with AF a couple of weeks ago and im refraining from alcohol till I have seen my specialist at the hospital as im still waiting to for an appointment. Previous to being diagnosed I enjoyed a nice bottle of Pinot Grigiot or Merlot mostly at weekends. The doctor in the hospital explained that alcohol is a trigger of AF but said I could still drink but stick to the recommended amounts. Since I joined this forum its seems most people are saying you need to give it up completely .I don't smoke and I lost 6 stones last year which I know cuts down on other risks.I know the risks of alcohol in general and believe me I know I cant go mad but do I have to cut out altogether.Does anyone with AF on here still have a weekly tipple?

45 Replies

  • Hi,

    Moderation!! is the key for me, the odd glass of wine shouldn't do any harm as long as you don't go on a binge! I still have a glass or two if I am off at the weekend and has done me no harm!


  • I personally don't modify my intake but then I probably only have about 5-6 unitsper week

  • Hi I have an evening gin and tonic (every evening) and a glass of wine at weekends- no problem! I was diagnosed 17months ago!

  • Only drinking to excess has an impact on me. I can have 2-3 pints with no ill effects, anymore than that I start to feel ropey the day after but do not got in to AF although it is well controlled with Flecainade. Saying that we are all different and I know some people can go in to AF with just one small drink.

  • I practically only drink at the the beginning of the month from the time when I drank morning till night 24/7 .I have af and very often have had an attack walking around or shopping, probably doing too much. My idea is drink if you want but remember how many you've had, don't go too wild!

  • We are all different but as you are aware alcohol can be an AF trigger and it is early days for you why not desist for the avoidance of doubt.

    In addition if you are on warfarin alcohol also can make controlling your INR more difficult.


  • I think you may have missed the point. Alcohol can be a trigger for AF. Binge drinking can be a CAUSE of AF. Two completely different aspects of the same problem. AF begets AF so the more you have it the more you will get it. If by abstaining you are able to limit or reduce your events this can only help and the only way to see if it does it to stop completely for a while and note your events and any other triggers.

    Long before I was diagnosed with AF I had to stop drinking because even a sniff of alcohol set my BP , rate and rhythm off on a jolly journey . Eventually this was diagnosed as AF (ten years later) and eight years ago symptoms removed by ablations so these days I can have a glass of white wine before dinner with minimal risk.

    Out of,interest a recent talk at a group I attend suggested that more than 2 to 3 units at a time was binge drinking so a bottle most definitely is. We were also told that even for healthy people with no other problems they should have at least two to three days per week alcohol free to allow the liver to recover.

    Apparently while we all think of drunken youngsters, hospital admissions due to alcohol in the 50 to 65 age group has gone up by 40% in the last ten years. This included falls, drink driving, alcohol related illnesses etc. I'm OK of course being 71!!!

  • Alcohol is actually a cause and a trigger (as BobD says) but in addition is an exacerbator. By that if you are in persistent AF it can make the AF worse. I have heard that and I can vouch for it. About 6 months ago at a christening I took a very small glass of prosecco. Probably a third of a standard glass. I had a couple of small sips and then 5 minutes later another small sip. Within a few minutes after that my heart started jumping and racing around!!! Needless to say that was the last sip I had!!!

    Before I was formally diagnosed with AF I used to drink but for many many years less than the government recommend amount. Never binge drunk. EP said you will never know the exact contribution alcohol has to AF but it certainly doesn't help the situation/ condition and not only varies from person to person but from time to time. When I told him that I'd given up alcohol completely he said great.

  • Hi PeterWh

    My last drink 3 years ago was a sip of Prosecco and the same happened to me, I went into AF and ended in A & E. Alcohol is a trigger for me so sadly i have given it up,

  • Anything carbonated can set you off, I stick to red wine and only a glass on weekends. I used to drink at least the limit a week, not probably 4-5 units. That seem to work for me.

  • Alcohol is a definite trigger for me also so I took the decision to give it up completely. Had half a glass of champagne last Christmas and short time later into AF. Why though do people find it so hard to accept that you have given up. I regularly get "surely a small glass won't hurt you".

  • I think three main reasons.

    Firstly anything that people can't see or is not cancer or is not a heart attack or is not somethings that has happened to them is passed off as a minor condition or inconvenience. I know someone who had a knee replacement classifying it as a major and risky operation and was off work for getting on for a year!! That same person said to me AF doesn't affect people and is an occasional very minor inconvenience!!!!! Said just snap out of it and get on with life normally!!! I wish so!!!

    They think that anyone who has heart problems is faking it unless they the person has had a heart attack or has had to be shocked back to life (and many believe everyone who has a heart attack has had to be shocked back to life.

    They are so hooked on the realities of having a drink that they can't bear to think of life without one!!!

    It's not just general people but aome medics as well particularly older nurses!!!

  • Yes I do, midweek tipples too, but no more than a glass.

  • G'day Timpsonboy,

    Food is a trigger for me. Not alcohol or coffee. I have one or two 330 ml bottles of lager at night and maybe a glass of red or white depends how I feel. Some times I drop the lager and replace it with G & T, depends on what I feel like. Basically I have what I want when I want, as I've done all my adult life. Has no impact on my medication at all.

    My GP always tells me I'm drinking too much and my response is - well when was the last time NHS treated me for AF - he looks blank at me - answer when I was originally diagnosed with AF in Jan 2010. No treatment since apart from repeat prescriptions.

    I also have annual blood tests for kidney and liver and thyroid and cholesterol and urine tests too - all normal.


  • Hi Carneuny.

    Much the same for me. Doesn't seem to make any difference for me either.

  • I am alcohol intolerant because of low-to-very low blood pressure as part of a different condition.

    (To put it briefly, my blood prefers my feet to my brain, as the veins are too stretchy to push the blood up).

    So for me, more than a smidgeonette of something alcoholic can have the effect of further lowering blood pressure to intolerable levels. This gives a feeling of shock, and has a knock-on effect of causing tachycardia as the heart races to get the blood moving.

    So how is this relevant?

    Well, interestingly, my GP told me quite a few people with AF have low blood pressure.

    So, I am thinking, if the blood pressure Is further lowered by alcohol, this may trigger tachycardia in an attempt to get the blood pressure moving. In some, that tachycardia could trigger AF.

    So by this reasoning:

    Alcohol, by relaxing the veins, temporarily lowers blood pressure. Hey presto, tachycardia for the susceptible.

    I can't speak for those with high b p naturally, but I am guessing any effect on BP will not be good.

    If I have any booze therefore, it has to be delicious and sippable, to be very slowly consumed, and with food. That slows down the effect, but I still have to be careful.

    Just one of many nice ways to enjoy your booze: Delicious Madeira added to your homemade chicken liver pâté and the alcohol cooked out, gorgeous flavour with none of the penalty yummm! Brandy added to fresh creammmmm....

    There are so many delicious booze flavours out there...

    (...Misty eyed...)

    (...Emerges from a dream...)


    I have not tried to drink anything yet til I get used to bisoprolol.

    For the purposes of AF'ers, I am the canary in the coal mine, the extreme and not necessarily the norm, but I thought the extreme might give a clear picture. Hope it is useful to somebody.

    And if you need to relax, relax with something that relaxes you. Alcohol doesn't really.

  • Drools whilst reading Boombiddy - delicious images and mental smells! Thank you for the low BP insight. I have low normal BP which drops at the least excuse, so your explanation of the effect of alcohol makes great sense. Wine (sigh) always started my AF and I think tachycardia came first, followed by AF.

    Timpsonboy I decided just after diagnosis to give up alcohol as I thought it would be less stressful than trying to limit myself to tiny amounts, which would just reinforce what I was missing. Almost three years on I don't miss it, except when I think about it - lol!!

  • Oh and alcohol dehydrates you of course. Lowered blood volume is a bit like lowered blood pressure, so may also cause tachycardia. So if you drink any alcohol you need to stay hydrated with more than your usual amount of water.

    BTW, Tea dehydrates more than coffee, so whatever you drink in tea, you have to drink same volume again in water, apparently. Coffee half as much.

    (It's not the caffeine we're talking about here).

    IFF tea affects you it may be worth trying this Home Help's trick:

    Pour the boiling water on the tea, brew about a minute, pour the water off. Pour fresh boiling water on and this time leave it to brew, this is still a decent cuppa, but with the diuretic brewed off.

    I imagine though that for those with high BP the diuretic in tea would be welcome. This is for those on the low side.

    Anyway, where were we...

  • I used to drink same amount every night but gave it up. It definitely made things worse for me. Now I can't drink anything at all as it goes straight to my head and heart. Worse thing you could do is nothing during week and a bottle on Saturday I'd have thought.

  • I drink beer. 3 pints max on an evening out once or twice a week. Keep off spirits or wine. No effects since my diagnosis Dec 2014.

  • Alcohol is one of the known triggers of AF, but that doesn't mean it will trigger AF in you.

    I have got drunk many times since my first AF and alcohol has never triggered it (I have had it 4 times in total). I DO NOT advocate drinking however! I have a few drinks regularly, without ever intentionally getting drunk.. but i am young and i must live so it happens...

  • Wow reading this will want you to take care drinking any alcohol at all. Abstention is obviously the safe thing to do. However, for me life's worth living and as long as AF isn't triggered then wine or beer in moderation is for me, as I enjoy it. Actually I have two to three glasses of red wine about 4 or 5 times a week. Probably too much, but it hasn't triggered my AF, which is being held at bay with medication (flecainide and bisoprolol). I'm not being dismissive though; AF is a nasty thing and you need to be sure to eliminate the trigger factors. Do what you feel is best for you.

  • Gave up when diagnosed not worth the risk for me no big deal better to know I am not doing anything that may interact with my meds or indeed trigger this horrible frightening and debilitating condition.

  • Since having an AF episode I'm generally very careful about what I drink and eat and how I exersize. I drink alcohol but don't overdo it

  • Sorry to say, I was also told to stop drinking no more hangovers from the drink....just hangovers from the pills!!!!

  • 2 glasses of red wine each evening with my dinner. Purely medicinal, of course.

    Occasionally, a couple of pints of a lunchtime. Absolutely no problem for my permanent AF.

  • As a beer drinker rather than wine I now stick to lower percentage beers around the 4%, apart from the odd IPA and no drinks 4 nights a week.

    I was in hospital last year with major organ failure liver and kidneys (not related to drink) the consultant after my recovery said drinking within reason was ok but be sensible about it.

    You need to find the right balance for you to live your life.

  • Oh, by the way....... Perhaps best to stop tea & coffee also. AND........ well, where does it all stop. Just enjoy life and Be The Boss.

  • wow some real mixed views here. Im new to AF and im learning more each day but you all make some really good points. I will be abstaining until I see the doc at the hospital even though its my birthday Friday but the message seems to be to try and find out what my trigger is before banning everything in my life. Getting the balance right with meds is my main problem as about an hour after taking Bisop,apix and digostin I feel dizzy when I stand up and feel palpitations for a while so first things first but thanks for all your messages it does seem that this condition needn't be terrible to manage if you are sensible.

  • Sounds like eat a piece of cake, go get myself more insulin and have a drink, get my afib. U all trying to kill yourself. Never a drinker so sorry, I don't understand.

  • I haven't changed my red wine drinking at all - probably about 5-6 glasses a week over 2 or 3 days. What I've noticed is that unfortunately I have to be careful with prosecco - 2 glasses in an evening is my limit, I think due to the bubbles rather than the alcohol.

    When I was diagnosed with AF, I was determined to keep life as normal as possible. I was already drinking decaf tea, but the only thing I've given up since being diagnosed is Diet Coke (can't stand the taste now!!).

    Get your meds sorted, then live your life - it is possible!


  • Anyone found alcohol free wine palatable? Loved a glass of wine pre afib but not a drop now. Still looking for something that resembles the taste of wine . The mystery of triggers just not worth the pleasure of alcohol.


  • Hiya CCW66, maybe a delicious casserole made with a decent wine? It'd give you the flave...

  • This was definitely a heart-felt thread for people (see what I did with the pun there?). I'm not a drinker, but my feeling on this is you have to live your life and figure out what works for you in an honest way (I grew up with an alcoholic parent, so I know that some people have no ability to moderate, but that's not the point here and a separate issue). AF has a really wide range. Some people have 'lone' AF, i.e. we have this unusual heart rate very intermittently and there is no structural problem with the heart or any other particular problem. We just have some messed-up tissue in our heart that sometimes sends out haywire signals. Other people have AF that is linked to another heart problem or issue and I can't really speak to that. For lone AF, some people find a direct link between their activities -- drinking, heavy exercise, being sick -- and an AF episode. Some can find none. Doctors don't seem to get that saying you have AF is pretty broad and just dole out advice as if we were all the same. So read up on AF, take your meds as prescribed (and know what each thing does), keep an eye out for things that are triggers for you, avoid anything excessive (binge drinking), and carry on ... it sucks to have an extra AF episode or two as you find things out, true, but if you then modify as needed it's better than living a life that makes you feel depressed and isolated (because drinking with your mates etc may be a big part of your life, it is for a lot of people). And by the way, losing the weight is fantastic, well done, and I bet that makes a huge positive impact on your health!

  • If you currently have active AF, it is too late; so may as well have a drink or two. The idea, is if your AF is dormant, to not drink to try to keep it dormant. I was drinking moderately between my A-fib episodes. Between 1st and 2nd was 14 months, 2nd and 3rd a couple months, but when it was only 2 weeks between 3rd & 4th, I knew I had to STOP, as my ablation was scheduled for about 5 weeks later, and I did not want to add risk to another episode before I was cured. It did the trick!

    Now, about 3 months after ablation, and back to moderate drinking, I have been A-fib free, and (crossing my fingers) consider the ablation a cure.

  • Don't forget, red wine (in moderation) is part of the Med diet which is now highly recommended. When I had lone AF, I had it as regular as clockwork (every 3 days for 1 day) - I gave up all alcohol for a month and it had no impact. I tried avoiding all other known triggers and also took every conceivable supplement which was supposed to help, all to no avail. I think for a few people, there are specific triggers and those are arguably the lucky ones who can do something about it.

    Eventually had an ablation which has sorted it out for the last 6 years, touch wood.

  • Yes MarkS, they do say a small amount of wine every day does help.

    The currently normal wineglass we have here is maybe 3 times that amount I think, but that is from memory.

    The French seem to have better heart health on the whole, and they have a lot of things we think are no-no's like more animal fats, and now it's known that actually some of these protect the arteries.

    That's cos good grass-fed meat contains a different vitamin K that we're beginning to get a handle on, vitamin K2. K2 works with vitamin D etc. to transport calcium to where it should be. K2 makes sure calcium deposits aren't left in plaques in arteries, aren't left in heart valves, brain... It's worth looking it up. (And it may even help with Alzheimer's prevention). When I can get my facts together, I hope to do a post on it.

    The French aspire to 'la mesure', do they not, moderation in everything?

    Meanwhile, it's a nice thought that we can get a balance to life that is pleasurable.

    Bottoms up! Pass the duck-liver pâté (yes, it's good for your heart!) and best wishes from Boombiddy.

  • Yes I agree. In fact I take Vit K2 as a tablet every day. It also helps stabilise my warfarin so I can eat what I want - no restrictions on spinach, leafy veg etc. :-)

    I've just read about another trial on the Med diet where those on the diet who have AF reduced their risk of stroke my nearly a half!

  • Wow MarkS, thanks for this!

    Tbh, in my ignorance I was resisting anticoagulants because I didn't want to miss out on taking K2 when I can get my hands on it, so this is a revelation.

    (For all you people who are kind enough to warn me about not taking anticoagulants, I just want to say calm down dear it's paroxysmal, under 60, no other heart probs, CHAD-wotsit score 1 for being female, and what can I say I'm a bit of a bleeder, bruise easily that sorto thing).

  • I've been on warfarin for 3 years and felt unprotected when I had to stop taking it for 10 days due to a sigmoidoscopy. Wouldn't do without it. (I have a sensitivity to Rivaroxaban)

  • I have a couple at weekends with no problems

  • I have not found it necessary to alter my drinking habits since diagnosis. I only have occasional af, and have never been able to identify any trigger - it often starts when I am sitting quietly doing nothing in particular. As with everything it seems there is no norm when it comes to af - we are all different and react differently to various stimuli and situations. As regards alcohol, it is probably wise to observe moderation, but I will continue to enjoy a drink or two unless I notice a correlation with episodes of af.

  • Oh I still enjoy a few glasses a night! I think it's just trial and error to see how you go with it! I do not think you need to cut it out all together x

  • I finally decided that I disliked AF more than I liked alcohol. I stopped drinking over twelve years ago and my symptoms improved greatly, but not completely. My cardiologist said I made a very wise decision in giving up alcohol. I had a cryoballoon ablation almost eight weeks ago and am still on my meds. (Propafenone and Diltiazem) Even if my three month blanking period goes well and I'm weaned off the meds, I will still stay away from alcohol. It's just not worth it to me. And believe me, I did not want to stop drinking!

  • As Bob says Alcohol CAN be a trigger. I believe coffee, (coffee not caffeine), and soya are triggers for me, as when I drank coffee and ate soya products I had many more episodes than since I've given them up (8 years since I had any coffee, 5 years since I had soya). My last episode of AF was about 18 months ago and it only lasted 2 hours. I recently stopped drinking alcohol to lose weight. I always intended going back to alcohol now and again. I had a reason to celebrate on Sunday and had a beer, which I didn't enjoy. Wine next time.

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