AFIB being triggered by food

My AFIB episodes always occur at night after eating. It actually occurred just once during the day but also after eating a heavy lunch. Used to think it was alcohol that triggered it but happens without alcohol. I'm now certain that it is allergic reaction to some foods and it has something to do with the vagus nerve because I always feel strange in my stomach area. It's a hard to describe feeling, it's not fullness and it's not indigestion, it's actually more like an empty feeling even though I've eaten. I'm very averse to drugs so I'm going to try to see what foods trigger it.

Anyone else have the same kind of issue? That is food seeming to trigger the AFIB?

17 Replies

  • I have learnt not to eat big meals, it always starts my palpitations and the feeling I can,t breathe. I dare not drink any alcohol because the palpitations are so uncomfortable, on family occasions I,ve had a drink and had to pay the price afterwards.

  • I will definitely cut down on my eating. I have also seriously limited my alcohol consumption but I do still have one cocktail in the evening. I'm really thinking it's not the alcohol as much as food. I've had episodes without consuming any alcohol at all.

    It may be high carbohydrate foods. My first test will be to eat mainly protein and vegetables and cut out the pasta and bread. If I still get episodes I'll try cutting out the cocktail but can I find some other way to reward myself for a hard days work?

  • Yes, I'm finding it too. It's to do with the vagus nerve. I'm trying smaller meals and less gassy food going forward, absolutely no fizzy drinks at all and chewing my food slowly and at least 32 times before swallowing...

  • Yes, very good idea to chew slowly and eat less.

  • Absolutely. I was diagnosed in January 2010. I began a ( hardly a diet) new food intake plan later that year, followed it through over the years and have now been AF free for a little over 2 years.


  • Do you mind passing along the generalities of your diet? I mean what have you eliminated and/or added?

  • Hi,

    Yeah, sure - bland, boring and repetative.

    Seriously though - I consulted a Nutritionist. She put me on a course of Probiotics to sort out my gut flora.

    She then recommended i go wheat free and gluten free.

    Then came the FODMAPS diet - I found it a bit severe so I just picked out of it what I considered to be relevant.

    At a later time I went oats free and added sugar free.

    Drinks don't worry me that much but needless to say any beer with wheat gluten in it is OUT ! In fact I can generally only drink Peroni or Tiger beer. spirits - no problem. Tea and coffee no problem. Hot or cold or ice cream no problem.

    Food - really weird !

    Anything with gluten, wheat or oats is OUT !

    So are raspberries, peas, runner beans, lettuce, onions. Can have a bit or rocket, no sweat - also shallots. Broad beans are OK - baked beans are not.

    Yoghurt -out.

    Strawberries and cream - OK (thank god).

    Hard cheese, like Cheddar or Edam, OK - soft cheeses are OUT.

    Pork and crackling - out.

    Sausages - out.

    White meats are Ok. Well cooked or BBQ'd red meats are fine. Gravy OK - so long as it is gluten free.

    Roast is OK, lambs liver OK.

    Amazingly - KFC and Macdonalds are also OK.

    Hot (Chilli) type foods are well OUT.

    Yes - eat small and not late in the day.

    Hope this answers your question - if not get back to me.


  • I have the same experience. My afib is 99% at night after eating. If I eat a full meal, and then go to bed within 3 hours, my PACs startup and they in turn sometimes move to afib. I've tried cutting out sugary foods, simple carbohydrates, and eating less wheat products. That seems to help so far. I also noticed that when I eat Salmon and fish, and only vegetables, I rarely have PACs? I also find sleeping on my left side after a meal will drive this. The weird part for me is that I read Sleep Apnea is associated, so I asked for a sleep test, and they told me I have moderate sleep apnea. I'm just been ordered the CPAP machine, so I'll see what that does? I also read high T-4 will drive Afib, and had that tested, and sure enough, although my TSH is normal, my T-4 was high, so just modified my treatment. All of this at once after I went months between afib episodes, I suddenly had them every week just before I found all this out. Anyways, the vagal nerves are associated and there are some possibilities being looked at for using devices to stimulate the vagal nerve via the outer ear. They claimed in a study that this restored healthy sinus rhythm in a study, better than the drugs, but it looks like there is a lot of work to be done.

    Here's a link to the study. I have been identifying the points in the ear, and stimulating the areas when I have PACs (my warning Afib is about to try to engage my heart). So far, I have noticed the PACs slow down and go away, but I also take Magnesium drink when the PACs start. This seems to work for the short term, but I live in fear for my next afib event.

  • Thank you for that information. What amazes me is that doctors don't know squat about what the triggers or causes are. They just go here, take this blood thinner and call me in the morning. So we have to figure this out on our own. Thanks again.

  • By the way, I have now taken on a practice of trying to beat the PACs, not the afib directly, as the PACs lead to afib for me. I use a Kardia ECG device attached to my Iphone and check myself several times a day. When I have PACs, I can actually feel them, and can then verify them on the Kardia. When I do, I take a Taurine, Magnesium powder, Fish Oil, Turmeric, and a half dose more of my Atenolol (be careful as I take very little twice a day normally, so don't do up your meds without talking to your doctor). That usually, if I do it early enough will quell my PACs. I've not had Afib that didn't start with the PACs, so now stopping them is my target, although everyone told me they are harmless, I don't agree that PACs are harmless anymore.

    I also eat a lot less now, have lost weight, and exercise aerobically every day for at least half hour a day. However, whenever I eat dinner (not breakfast or lunch), I usually get some PACs afterwards, and treat as I stated. I don't eat close to bedtime ever anymore. I eat a lot less at night, so losing weight has become a side-effect of that. That concerns me bit, as I am not really overweight, per my doctor. Alcohol just totally drives me into Afib, so I've stopped all of it, and now I dropped caffeine and chocolate forever now. I used to love a good glass of wine, chocolate, and coffee before my journey into the dreaded world of Afib.

  • I absolutely cannot do the alcohol either! Until flecanide, all my afib episodes had to be cardioverted, a total of 8. My first afib event lasted 3 1/2 months straight, off work the entire time as it was debilitating at high rates of 140-160. My afib is like a curse, it stays in afib no matter the medications they tried until flecanide, These days I do not miss my medication, staying hydrated, using my cpap for sleep apnea, getting adequate sleep and trying not to over stress myself. I understand everyone is different, but I am very compliant to whatever it takes to avoid afib.

  • That's terrible, that you had it so long. Mine always start in the evening, last all night and go away in the morning once I get myself moving and ready for work. They seem to lessen in the morning after two cups of strong coffee, which is pretty much a life long habit.

    I'm cutting my night time meals in half and cutting down on bread, pasta and the like. Also learned to not put to much Cayenne pepper on stuff, which I love but am sure triggered my most recent attack.

    Good luck to you and I'm glad you found something that helps.

  • I have the exact same experience. If I eat even a bite of anything with Cajun type seasoning, I go into Afib anywhere from 20 minutes - 2 hours after eating that food. Certain sauces trigger it too. Last episode major episode was triggered by shrimp with seasoning that I was unaware of. In Afib for 9 days (March 2017).

    Always causes a digestive response too

  • I'm so sorry that your episode lasted so long. That is really scary. Good luck figuring out your triggers. Eat light and early if you can. Plenty of fluids, avoid dehydration.

  • Hi. Yes all my episodes happen at night. Also nearly always when at home. Either in bed or just before. The last time was 30 minutes after cheese and oatcakes for supper !!

    I definTely think food and digestion are triggers somehow. I always feel full of wind after an episode.

  • Hi I am positive that food triggers my AF and get frustrated that the professionals seem to just dismiss it when I mention it Cheers Rich

  • Yes, this is one of those things the doctors really don't know about yet. Could be many different triggers. In my case I'm in excellent health, been a runner and cyclist all my life. I'm 70 and can still get on a spin bike and have my heart rate at 145 or higher for better part of an hour.

    I, and others, are beginning to realize that it's probably related to vagus nerve irritation which in turn is probably food allergies. Keeping careful notes of what we've consumed when episodes happen should help us get a handle on the problem ourselves without doctors telling us we are imagining things.

    I read recently that some people are having luck with Xanax, that it will stop an AFIB episode within 15 minutes. That seems worth a try if you think it may be stress related.

    I wish you luck and hope you never experience another episode.

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