My PAF returned and it was entirely my fault! - AF Association

AF Association

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My PAF returned and it was entirely my fault!


Some of you may recall that I adopted lifestyle changes and I was AF free for nearly two years. One change was totally giving up alcohol. However, last week I went on holiday to Gran Canaria and had super weather with hot blue sunny days every day. I decided that I would treat myself to a glass of wine with my evening meal and enjoyed it very much (a nice Rioja). I had no ill effects so I had a couple of beers during the next day and some more wine in the evening.

During the following night I awoke at 3am with that old familiar feeling of erratic thumping in my chest and it seemed as bad as or worse than I remember it. I took some extra flecainide and bisoprolol and tried unsuccessfully to get back to sleep. Luckily the AF stopped by 7am but I felt lousy all that day. There is no doubt in my mind that the AF was triggered by the alcohol.

I might have a glass of wine on the odd special occasion in the future (but only one glass). Otherwise I will continue to abstain from alcohol. It is really not worth trying to second guess how much is too much – better none at all than continue to suffer the risk of future AF episodes.

40 Replies

You live and learn! I think the problem with an occasional one with a big gap in between is that your body is not use to it so the effect is worse.

That's a real pain, Craggy but at least it is confirmation of what not to do! I knew I could never trust myself to have very occasional half glasses of wine, so it was easier to become teetotal. Hope you enjoyed the holiday despite it.

I did the same at Christmas Craggy. Had a glass of red wine Christmas Eve and no problems. Christmas Day I had four alcoholic drinks (totally daft I know) and set off my AF and fast heart rate which lasted for the next week.


Same with me Jeanie will not touch alcohol at now.

so agree with you- well done!

Yep, I only drink a QUARTER glass of wine. I'm no saint; it's because I get a migraine if I drink any more than this! Like you, I've learned the hard way. Also, since I've been taking Dabigatran I'm no longer allowed to take my superbly successful migraine pills - Zolmitriptan - only Paracetamol. However, on a Sunday, no less. I got an immediate email response from the Migraine Association with advice to take 500 mg stat - and it does work!


I reckon the trouble is that if you're tee-total, a glass of wine could be like a regular drinker drinking a bottle. I had half a flute of Prosecco by mistake some time back (I'm tee-total) and wow, I tried to drive my JCB to fill up the sheeps' water butts, a simple task, and dropped a 1-tonne container, smashing it to pieces. My wife drank even less, also by mistake, and she was worse than me.

I didn't get AF though, but that would be thanks to the drugs I suppose?

Bless you, lesson learned by the sound if it.

I wonder if alcohol mixed with rosuvastatin is causing burning pins and needles in my hands and arms. I have a few glasses of wine a week....

I never did drink a lot of alcohol but made the decision about 9 months ago to give it up completely. To me it is not even worth the risk of 'just a glass'.

Now too scared to even contemplate just one as I want to eliminate any known trigger and also I do not want to compromise my INR results in case I need a cardioversion. This is a real concern as I have had 3 in 6 months and my AF has not responded to extra Flecainide the last 2 times.

My view is that no alcohol is best.


Hi Craggy, It is absolutely alcohol, especially bubbly wine that triggers my AF. I only need to take a mouthful, swallow and a minute or so later I am in AF. Unfortunately I have had to give up all alcohol. I haven't had any now for 4 years, it is not worth it as I am very symptomatic when in AF.


Hi Craggy, hope you have had no more AF.

If you have Vagually mediated AF like myself you have to avoid triggers for two reasons, one the trigger itself and the other your mind alone setting AF off. In your case as others have said it was probably the trigger itself i.e. too quick a return to alcohol after a period of abstinence.

I have triggered AF by simply returning to a memorable walk abroad where I had it. I would be interested to hear if anybody has any solutions to dealing effectively with the mind. Currently, the best for me is practising Mindfulness, letting it become a dim and distant memory and working on the spiritual side i.e. in the words of Leonard Cohen "If it be your will".

Bagrat in reply to Hidden

Have a look at Human Givens method of counselling. It really helped with panic attacks that started when my husband had a heart attack. I.e breaking the link between the event and the response.

Fearnie in reply to Hidden

I use an app called 'Calm'. I find that it helps a lot with mindfulness. Live 'here and now', and enjoy it.

Hidden in reply to Fearnie

Thanks Fearne I will check it out. I have found it helpful just to enjoy 'today'.

annlynne in reply to Hidden

Hi Orchardworker, I had a serious stroke in 2009 . My brain is damaged , I have come to terms with that. It was my central ganglia(that is the control centre for actions ) and the right lower lobe that were damagedm therefore it is my left side that is affected. I was paralysed left side and blind in my left eye. I learned to walk again with the help of a wonderful Romanian physio. and my eyesight returnedbecause medical staff and relatives insisted I use it. It is my contention that my mind is separate to my brain. So my brain triggers certain actions and I try to override it with my mind. It sounds ridiculous but a psychologist I was referred to confirmed I was correct.. I am glad someone else has brought up this topic. I think practising mindfulness is what I have been doing and it helps me overcome problems.


Hidden in reply to annlynne

Interesting Annlynn, I certainly wouldn't disagree. Hope you continue to improve.

annlynne in reply to Hidden

Thank you, and you too x

Plantwords in reply to Hidden

Hi Orchardworker,

You raised a very important question about 'cognitive' solutions to dealing with triggers. A psychologist friend told me that the more I define myself in the context of AF, the less I will effectively manage my anxiety about triggering AF. He advised that I need to reach a firm conclusion that there is nothing beyond reasonable precautions like a PIP approach that I can do; that I need to 'banish' it and refocus elsewhere in a 'full-on motivated and determined' way. If the thought re-emerges, patiently and firmly banish it. He termed this 'voluntary amnesia' relating to AF and said no amount of additional worrying will put me in a better position. I, too, practice mindful meditation which would support this approach, but, I think his notion of banishing the AF worries is something even more powerful. I guess we could think of this in the context of life and death; our mortality is given, so are we going to ruminate about death, or, focus on living? Glad you raised this.


Hidden in reply to Plantwords

I think that's good advice Steven, thank you.

A while back Dee here gave me similar useful advice. She said and I paraphrase " try very hard not to think back in detail...took me sometime to build happier memories..time lessons the bad memory and try not to re-energise them by giving them the airing they need to breath...and eventually saying consciously to yourself - that's enough now already let it go"

I am lucky I have an exciting fulfilling job in my 60's so I guess I should just focus on those challenges and the grandchildren!

Could have been worse - what if it had been chocolate that set it off :-)

Eatsalottie in reply to Mike11

Now that would have been a downright tragedy! :O

cbsrbpm in reply to Eatsalottie

I would willingly give up chocolate for life but a glass of merlot that is the most difficult thing for me 🍷Funnily enough I have been drinking a few glasses recently to try and trigger my AF (yes I know this sounds really weird). Prior to my 3rd ablation but it hasn't although it never really was a trigger before but I am sure chocolate has been the culprit in the past. Not a big chocolate eater so maybe the body cope so well if not used to it.

I've got to own up to feeling a bit low last week so I drank half a glass of white wine followed by too many jelly babies and after that that familiar feeling set in. I've learnt my lesson and I'll stop scoffing jelly babies!

I dont think its the wine per say thats creating the pulpitations. More likely its the TYPE of wine . A lot of wines have sulfides in them and oaky wines have tannin.

Both these will give me palpitations but by drinking ones that I know have no sulfides or tannins , they have never effected me [ even after multiple glasses : ) ]

hazelrigg in reply to sleeksheep

Thank you, that's really interesting and good to know.

souljacs4 in reply to sleeksheep

Would like to know what wine you drink.

sleeksheep in reply to souljacs4

Summer drinking - Reds - Brown Bros. Dolcetto & Syrah

Echo Falls Fruit Fusion Rose' /Whites - McWilliams Inheritan

Banrock Station - Moscato.

Quite a few others but probably not available outside Australia.

annlynne in reply to sleeksheep

that sorts it then Australia here we come ! xx

I would consider dehydration may have played a role. Yes the alcohol was probably the trigger but more so due to dehydration.

Everyone's triggers are different, it seems, but it being wine... That really sucks. I find caffeine sets mine off. I wonder if one of the low-alcohol wines would be better, in small doses?

Finvola in reply to Eatsalottie

I tried Sainsbury's de-alcoholised wines but they set off ectopics on a grand scale so I stopped for fear of triggering AF. As another poster said, the sulphides can be the problem. 🙁

Eatsalottie in reply to Finvola

Oh, that's not good... But good to know!

Hi Craggy, I have kept alcohol at arms length since my first P.A.F. episode (pretty violent ) over twenty years ago. I had been drinking Baileys on ice in my little garden as we had a barbeque on a wonderful balmy summer's evening. So no more alcohol. In 1909 (a year after marrying my present husband) we went to Gran Canaria with the family. Had a wonderful holiday, minimal wine but frequent bouts of minor PAF. Came home on Thursday , laundered all the clothes and ironed it all. Hubby took me out for Sunday lunch,we called at my daughter's to see their new bathroom. Tried to knock at door and had a severe stroke there on the doorstep . I was paralysed on left side and blind in left eye. Had to learn to walk again. My sight returned (thanks to staff and my relatives insisting I used it) but my left hand and arm is still immobile. Please take care, ~I'm told if I'd been on anticoagulants it wouldn't have happened, but most importantly I survived. PAF is serious make no mistake.


So, as a fairly new AF sufferer, my question is, when my AF came back 72 hours after cardioversion, it has come back and stayed, like it was before. So, what's the point in continuing any more CV or other medical treatments, when as soon as you exercise mildly or whatever else (nothing exertion wise), it returns?

Polski in reply to PaulaEKing

The aim of treatments is to control AF or prevent it happening; also to prevent a stroke, which is more likely with AF as the AF can cause a clot to form in the heart, which can then travel to the brain.

There are drugs they can give you to take before and after a CV which will discourage the AF from returning so soon. Also, the fact that it went even for that short a time, shows that an ablation should work. It is best to go down that road sooner rather than later.

There is lots to read on the AF Association website . . .


Thats really rough having a fib after 2 yr. Im going about 5 mo between episodes but only been diagnosed about 14 mo now. Been making lifestyle changes too. My EP told me NO alcohol. Ive wondered if I could sneak an occaisional drink in but too scared to test it. Guess I will continue to abstain. Hope things get back to normal and stays there, good ol normal sinus rhythm, nothing feels better

I have not had any alcohol since 2007, I did not know at the time that I had afib, only that I had a reaction with my heart while vacationing and drank 2 drinks. It lasted several hours and we had to stop driving and get a motel where i cld lie down, never have chanced another drink. I was diagnosed with afib in 2014, looking back, that is what happened in 07 and I was not aware of what it was.

Thanks everyone for all your comments and wise words of wisdom. Now where did I leave that chocolate?...........

Very familiar , I have got to the stage that having any alcohol is no longer worth it as as soon as I have any I worry about afib - and its the same as described above - 3 am - the more I get used to not drinking the less it bothers me - it is better to just block it out and forget it and focus on the many positives.

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