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AF Association
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AF link with beef and alcohol?

Hi, I'm new here, recently diagnosed with Fast AF which seems to occur on a random basis in episodes of between 3 minutes and 3 hours, between 5 and 50 times a week. I'm male, in my mid-50s, live near London, slightly over weight but otherwise fit and healthy and pretty much always have been.

I've been a keen runner for the last 10 years running around 30 miles a week and wasn't aware of my AF until it stopped me from running a few times (normally it does not occur when I run, but that may have been chance).

Until a couple of weeks ago the episodes seemed to be getting more frequent until I noticed that when I hadn't eaten any beef or alcohol for a few days, the episodes vanished, only to return about 18 hours after a steak.

This makes me wonder if my AF is "like" a delayed allergic reaction to beef. I also suspect that I get a faster reaction to drinking alcohol (perhaps only a couple of hours after drinking it).

With this knowledge I seem to have managed to achieve 4 whole days without an AF episode, which is not long enough to be certain of anything, but long enough to make me wonder.

I have no background in medicine or biology, and I wonder if anyone has any similar experiences or thoughts about the linkage. I almost have the impression that my AF is caused by irritation in my digestive system when alcohol and beef arrive (at different speeds) at some place in it. I also wonder if there are other foods which might also cause the same symptoms.

I'd welcome any thoughts.


9 Replies

There are links between certain foods triggering AF - for me now, it is bread, starchy veg and large meals period but you have to have a predisposition and it often runs in families.

Before ablation it was alcohol and coffee that were guaranteed to trigger episode, now I can consume without ill effects. AF can be very fickle! If you do have these correlations you will most likely they are triggered by the vagus nerve, known as vagal AF - research.

The most likely way of knowing is if your AF is affected by either resting or by exercising - can be either.

But the most likely and well known antagonist is endurance sports such as running, cycling, swimming etc.

the good news is that this type of AF is most likely to respond to vasovagal maneuvers.

Go to the STARS site on the AA website and research. Do ask a paramedic or your doctor how to perform vasogal - examples on YouTube.

The most likely maneuver to work for me is to breath into a closed syringe and bear down hard and then lie down on floor and get someone to raise your legs very rapidly - hold them there for about 2-3 minutes and then rest with legs up until episode ceases. Don't stay lying prone for too long though. Ensure you are very well hydrated.

Works for me but my EP says vasovagl is only likely to work when AF is induced by high HR - so control your HR when you exercise and know your trigger rate - and don't ever push yourself when in AF.


You refer to the stars site on the aa website - do you have more details?


heartrhythmalliance.org/ has a lot of info including the STARS site but they have changed the vasovagal info.

And you may find this video with a very brief explanation of vagus & sympathetic/parasympathetic balance useful.

Then if you search on YOuTube you will see lots of demos of vasovagal.


Before I went into persistent, though asymptomatic, AF coffee and soya were triggers for me, (not caffeine but coffee).

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You have AF therefore you will get AF. Triggers are optional. That said alcohol should be avoided at all times as it is a common trigger and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that a change to a more plant based diet with less processed food and a reduction in stress can be helpful. Obviously any excess weight should be shed asap as this is never helpful and places an extra burden on the heart.

My EP told me searching for triggers is the way to madness and at different times I think I blamed everything from Chinese food through cooked cheese (pizza). meat, bread, chocolate, dried fruit (no fruit cake for me) cream, you name it I blamed it. Get proper treatment , adjust your life style and live life to the full. As they say. AF won't kill you but it does change your life and often for the better.


My AF used to be triggered by a range of food, and certain alcohol. I modified my food intake on advice from a Nutritionist and whilst this took a few years to sort out it worked and my last AF event was April 2015. So, basically I eat food which doesn't aggravate the vagal nerve, keep the Vagal nerve calm, keep the digestive system calm = no AF!

I should add that my medication is warfarin and bisoprolol.

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suggest you have a look at careuny's comments regarding food interactions. Very interesting viewpoint on the links between the vagus nerve, food types and afib. much food for thought.Ian

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Alcohol may well be a trigger for some people, but it seems not to be for me. Everyone is different. As BobD says, searching for a trigger could be a way to madness, although my current theory (for me only) is cold and hunger. I'd probably welcome your steak, and a warm jumper.


Thanks everyone for the helpful comments.

I have the impression that for some people there's no reliable diet trigger, for others it changes over time, and for some it's more stable. Since I'm new to this I don't yet know which of these I'll turn out to be.

But I understand the comment that unless I'm lucky enough to have a stable trigger, it will indeed drive me mad.

And whichever of these might be true, it doesn't remove the inherent susceptibility that's causing the AF, at most it will allow me to manage it, but not to cure it - as I understand that AF is not reversible by any non-medically invasive means.

Further to what I said earlier I'm not on any medication (I didn't get along with bisoprolol , my risk factors are low, and don't feel I need any medication to cope with the AF). When I'm running and not in AF, I can push my heart rate up to 90% of my Max HR without any Ill effects and without triggering a episode (at least, not within 24h).

Carneuny, I'd be interested in any resources you've found useful to understand how best to calm the vagal nerve as it certainly feels as if my AF is vagally related.



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