I keep seeing that drinking is bad for Af ? Yet when I was diagnosed originally I asked my doctor about giving up and his reply was that there is evidence to suggest a little alcohol daily is not a problem.

Whats peoples thoughts on this ?

what effects do you notice when you do drink a bit more?


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65 Replies

  • This is probably the most popular topic of all. If you do a search on the forum for "alcohol" you'll find numerous topics.

  • just click on the box at the top right - hundreds of posts on this subject

  • Thank you I will read them but wanted to start a new theead rather than tag onto an end of an old one , will Check them out now 😁

  • Personally, the only alcohol that really affects me is UK real ales, bottled or from the tap in a pub. Food also used to affect me but by getting my diet under control that is no longer an issue.

  • That's interesting, I dont drink spirits just wine/prosecco.

    How did food affect you and did you lose weight and that made it ok?

  • It was sometime after diagnosis that I noticed that food triggered AF. Symptoms were, massive, massive painful bloating, intestinal gurgling, burping and diahorrea. Not all at once, all very random and in no particular sequence. My GP checked me out for IBS and coeliac disease but blood tests came back clear. It was then that I consulted a nutritionist. She carried out some basic gut tests and advised me to go gluten free, wheat free and to consider the FODMAPS diet. As time went on I added to this list oats free and added sugar free. I began to get some relief, particularly from bloating. I then experimented with other foods over more time and even now some years down the track I am still experimenting. The link is with the vagal nerve, its like an information superhighway between the brain and the heart and the digestive system and up to a point controls the heart and digestive system.

    But the important thing is to determine where the AF starts from. In retrospect mine was always vagal nerve. It started as a result of me spending some time bending over from a chair doing some shredding. Then I got diagnosed in about 9 hours from onset, caused by this bending. I researched this nerve and figured I'd go down this track. Calm the vagal nerve, calm the digestive system, calm the heart = no AF. As I may have said, no AF since April 2015.

    No I did not loose weight, BUT the diet was never intended as a weight loss diet. It was more a diet to calm the digestive system. My weight is still pretty much as it was before AF when it was diagnosed in Jan 2010. I am just very grateful that my AF is vagal and not coming from other sources. I do not agree that chasing triggers is a route to madness, I think that is a Cardiac Consultants/EP cop out. Over the last 7 years I've read plenty of posts on here from sufferers who are driven to madness by the ablation process itself, especially those who approach the maximum number of ablations the heart can take and still have no result. Or those who suffer from sloppy and/or incompetent diagnosis.

    A little mentioned or considered view point is pure genetics. Some get it simply because their gene pool is crap ! Time for some areas of modern medicine to start thinking outside the box !

    In the case of my fathers side of the family my grandfather died in 1964 from a series of strokes. Nobody alive today can say where these came from. His nephew was diagnosed with AF resulting in ablation. I have AF resulting in diet. My daughter aged 30 was twice diagnosed with AF as a result of two pregnancies. Since she stopped breeding she has had no AF. She indulges in Thai Kick boxing instead :-) 3 "types" of AF, 3 methods of dealing with them. Whether my daughter will experience a return of AF as she ages remains to be seen. Her build is best described as stick insect like !

    So there we are - I'll leave you to mull this lot over.


  • This is most interesting, Thank you for taking the time to be so informative

  • Only time I felt flutters was after a few too many brandys years ago. Since moderation, ie 2 or 3 max, I've had no problems.

  • I stopped all alcohol ( I like wine in moderation) the moment I was diagnosed with AF the reason being I now have enough potent drugs in my body with prescribed medication without adding to the mix with another drug in the form of alcohol.

    I have been so shocked by the onset of severe episodes of P-AF that I will do anything to try to halt its progression with minimum intervention. I have read as much as I can of data/trials on the condition and one thing many of them have in common is cut out smoking/alcohol and if you are above normal BMI lose weigh and maintain that weight loss . I don't smoke but I can comply with the other things .

    I am doing ok just now having lost 8lb since May not by dieting but by permanent lifestyle changes including a balanced diet and reduced food intake. I really don't need the 'empty calories' that alcohol provides, I would rather 'spend' them on food :-) .

  • Yes I suppose we all react differently, I focused on getting my drug dosing right, (I already have dilated cardiomyopathy) and I also cut down alcohol, but didnt cut it out, I am nOw focussing on losing weight.

  • It seems that most people here have detected a link between alcohol and AF, and have cut down accordingly, with many people giving up entirely.

    As a bit of an alcohol fan, I've been reluctant to give it up entirely. And so I've been cautiously exploring my limits. So far I've yet to find them. I've been over 3 months without AF and, that includes 5 days at Glastonbury festival where I drank a fair bit every day.

    This is my own personal experience, and my own choice of risk vs reward. With AF what works or doesn't work seems to vary from person to person. And I've always said that if it becomes obvious that alcohol is a trigger I'll cut down or stop completely as needed.

    I've had to give up caffeine as I spotted a fairly clear link between that and ectopic beats. It was a sad day when I realised that relationship!

  • Oh now this is very interesting as this is quite how I feel as well!

    I havent cut caffeine out completely but only drink coffee once or twice a day now (am on a diet at moment so no lattes!) i rarely drink caffeine late or its liable to stop me

    Sleeping and I kick myself if I succumb to an irish coffee while out for a meal!

    I wonder if wine and beer are tolerated more easily than spirits?

  • I've never been a big spirits drinker. Although I have a couple of nights out in the last year when I've had some and it hasn't caused AF.

    I think my few episodes of AF have come from dehydration. So my current theory, until it gets disproved, is that alcohol is ok as long as I keep hydrated too. It seems to be working so far.

    Caffeine I've only ever linked to ectopics, never AF. (And I already had a 'no caffeine after 3pm' rule in place due to sleeping issues!)

  • Like you UScore , I have decided to keep hydrated when I am drinking, and I'm certain that it helps. I've not detected any correlation between drinking and my (so far only two) bouts of AF. I do feel that as well as hydration, keeping warm and well fed might be a good idea. Both my events were coincident with falling evening temperatures and me feeling the cold, together with inadequate food (both intake and availability). Meanwhile I've had occasional drinks and a couple of seriously drunk occasions at beer festivals. I also drink spirits (gin and whisky) but not usually to excess.

    Susangibbons, you may find your mileage varies. I too only have coffee once a day, mid morning. I've never had a heart response from it though, only problems sleeping.

  • The last time I had wine the first sip resulted in an AFib attack, so no wine....or any other alcohol. Fortunately coffee does not affect me so I'm happy. I'd rather give up a very occasional glass of wine than my daily several coffees.

  • In some ways you and I are lucky that it affects us this way round. I'd much rather give up coffee than alcohol. :)

  • Interesting, I have not drunk alcohol for five years - I gave up due to my Type 2 Diabetes. I have no given up caffine - due to my GPs advice for six weeks but would like to have 1-2 espressos and cups of tea per week... Any recommendations or advice gratefully received. Cannot get to see the GP for a fortnight - so I thought I would ask here.

  • I shy away from giving advice on here, for 2 reasons. Firstly I'm new to this whole AF scene. Plus it seems to affect everyone so differently that what works for me might not work for someone else. All I tend (or try) to do is to write about my experiences.

    The only advice I'd ever give to anyone else would be on the side of caution and patience. 2 weeks isn't a long time in the scheme of things, so is holding off until you see the GP that bad?

  • I discovered proseco, ciders and largers caused ectopics and extreme episodes of palpitations some years ago and have avoided ever since. I have an occasional glass of red wine, with no problem. On the caffeine front......I don't drink tea or coffee but accepted some paracetamol plus tablets from a friend the other day and had palpitations within half an hour. Looking on the packet I discovered they contained caffeine!

  • That is interesting! I bought whatvI thought were the normal Paracetemol, same colour packet , and took two.

    It triggered the most horrible episode of AF!!!

    Trip to A an E in an ambulance where they sorted me in 5 hours.

    Always exhausted the next day.

    The trigger was " Paracetemol extra with caffeine".

    I had not noticed the high dosage and added caffeine, the packet was the same.


    The other bad trigger is instant coffee, not real coffee. I think the link there is a sort of artificial caffeine.

  • I was advised to give up all alcohol 4 months after diagnosis with AF. This was after a 24 hour Holter monitor identified another arrhythmia, so perhaps advice from consultants depends on the type of arrhythmia. I had already stopped my lovely evening wines at diagnosis and found even non-alcoholic wine gave me ectopics. Now too much of a scaredy-cat to try alcohol again after 3 years free of AF.

  • Wow! I would be interested to have a holter monitor on a saturday when I have a drink, shame the tests are so difficult to get.

    Had you had a drink when the holter monitor was on?

  • No - I had stopped drinking alcohol 4 months previously on diagnosis of AF. The Holter picked up a short run of beats which were investigated as possible VT but probable SVT with abberant conduction - hence the advice from my cardiologist.

  • I an going to be controversial here and say probably more important to lose weight than stop alcohol but there is no doubt that this can trigger AF in some people. Well maybe something else in the drink as I was just as bad with non alcoholic beer and non alco wine is even worse. They make it the same way and remove the alcohol with an osmotic process so all the other chemicals remain.

  • Hmmm, you are quite possibly right, I am losing weight slowly at the noment and would rather lose weight than lose alcohol for sure!

  • I enjoy alcohol in many of it's variations

    I find that a tot of spirits is like an electric shock to the heart and can easily cause an arrythmia. Might get away with one but two is a mistake.

    Wine not so much but I can't drink a lot anyway, I fall asleep.

    We are Italian and drinking espresso is definitely a cause for concern but not tne instant variety

  • I have been told by my GP that a little alcohol does no harm. The guide seems to be, within reason.

  • Don't think there's a right and wrong answer. I was a life-long, regular drinker and had AF, but gradually my tolerance decreased, probably as the AF progressed. And now I'm tee-total and could not drink any alcohol whatsoever.

    Being tee-total has made me very susceptible to alcohol and even half a glass of wine would be a disaster, which I did once by mistake, I could hardly walk and later my heart started thumping. For me it would be little and regular, or not at all, and I've chosen the latter. I could definitely not cope with having the occasional glass.

  • Same with me, Koll - a case of out of sight, out of mind (nearly).

  • Simple fact that for many, but not all AF sufferers alcohol is a known trigger.

    To try and eliminate all triggers I gave up alcohol over a year ago.

    Sadly it made no difference to my AF but I now feel very self righteous.😇


  • Apart from the effect on the heart of alcohol it also had an unfortunate reaction with Warfarin in that the two together make the blood thinner.

    A binge is going to put you right out of therapeutic range , risk a brain bleed and entail endless trips to the clinic until you are stable again.

    Dark green leafy vegetables has the reverse effect so you risk a stroke and lots of other medications are contra indicated, both prescribed and over the counter things like cough mixture.

    As much as I enjoy a glass of wine, martini, Negroni, I know deep down it s a bit stupid to drink alcohol because it causes a lot of trouble😳

  • Yes I had forgotten to mention that one of my reasons for ceasing drinking alcohol was to do my best to get a steady INR. For an ablation procedure my hospital requires an INR of between 2 & 3.


  • I've experimented with my coaguchek comparing days with no alcohol to days where I had a few drinks on a Saturday evening and have found no difference. I think if you have a good intake of Vit K then any variation produced by alcohol becomes irrelevant.

  • Hey Susangibbons - be aware of the difference between impacting your anti-coagulation effect and exacerbating your atrial fibrillation. One post here suggested that green leafy vegetables increase your stroke risk..... using that same logic one could say that alcohol decreases your stroke risk. But neither are quite the truth.

    In simple terms, alcohol can accelerate the anti-coagulation effect of your blood thinner. A little alcohol has little effect but the more you drink the larger the impact. If you are taking a blood thinner to reduce stroke risk from AFib, a large amount of alcohol adds excessive risk risk of bleeding problems, especially when physical trauma occurs.

    Alcohol may exacerbate AFib by causing your heartbeat to be less regular, potentially increasing stroke risk, while at the same time it can lower your blood coagulation, reducing stroke risk. The math is different for each person and situation, yet more accelerants (alcohol, meds) add more risk.

    All-in all I keep my blood thinning in range via INR testing and adjusting my diet and/or blood thinning medication accordingly. I ingest kale, alcohol, spinach, warfarin, mango, and plenty of other INR-impacting substances and I'm able to keep my coagulation in range.

  • Not sure what I said was understood🤔

    The vitamin K in dark green leafy veg does wipe out the effect of warfarin.

    I also tend to balance two or three drinks with a portion of kale

    Not sure it is wise but does seem to work

  • A cautionary note:

    My sister in law and her husband, over a period of time tried to adjust her Warfarin to enable her to drink (she was an alcoholic). I cannot go into the detail of the outcome as it is too distressing, suffice it to say she is no longer with us.

    However, as I so often say, we are all so different, but in my humble opinion, Warfarin is not to be messed with.

    I have safely taken Warfarin for 10 years and survived a very serious situation when I severed the artery in my left hand.

    Treated with respect this anticoagulant is very important in the prevention of stroke, one of the worst consequences of untreated AF.

    Incidentally I do not think that Kale or dark leaf vegetables totally 'wipe out the effect of warfarin" but they can affect your INR that is for sure.


  • Oh I agree with you!

    My diet is high in veggie stuff and it does wipe out the warfarin effect for me so I have to be restrained in consumption of the dark greens.

    Alcohol is two drinks max. I could never drink enough to become an alcoholic but I am sorry to read about your sister in law

    I had a friend who is an alcoholic( she was a Hospital Consultant) and it s very sad to see. I found that I couldn't tolerate her behaviour and have eased away from her because she is never going to be any different and I don't want all that in my life. Anyone who can justify her drinking by telling me that at least she is getting some calories ( she was bone thin) is a difficult association to have. Her life revolved around it and then she bought a pub😔

  • Would your specialist consider changing you from warfarine to Rivaraxaban ?

    You have none of these restrictions with that drug.

    They never check your INR , I do find that odd after all the food no no s of warfarine.

  • Was this for me?

    I have discussed the alternatives BUT they all have side effects and those side effects outweigh the Warfarin side effects for me. My INR is pretty stable but my reaction to the vast majority of drugs is rather extreme so I have elected to take no more that Warfarin and Perindopril ( ace inhibitor) which makes me sloth like but no where as bad as beta blockers

    I have survived 11 years with little medication and only recently had ablation following an assault in November last year. No evidence the assault cause my daily 18 hour arrhythmias but I only had them every two months before that🙄

    The man who attacked me was apprehended ( it was in a bank on cctv) but no previous so he got a slap on the wrist. 'Community resolution'

    I was trying to report an unattended bag and he thought I was queue jumping so he hit me!!!!!

    The following 7 months for me were a nightmare and then we had a string of terrorist attacks and told to report anything suspicious 🙄

    I haven't been in that bank since but HSBC were very co-operative

  • That is absolutely dreadful. I hope you get over the trauma of being assaulted by that savage

  • So do I ! It was so unreasonable!

    We are advised to be responsible about anything suspicious and this happened just after a viable bomb was found on a train at East Greenwich near the O2 Arena. I don't live all that far away and it was in my head. It would have been very easy to walk away and let someone else deal with it🙄

    In the event the woman standing behind this thug got alarmed and said it's ok it's ok it is my friends bag by which time my heart was racing and he was standing at the counter shouting and swearing. I walked out but half an hour later I was so shaken I went to GP and then rang the Police. It was a complete waste of time!

    Shortly after that we had the Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge attacks.

    Never again. I shall just get as far away as fast as possible😳

  • Thank you, I hadnt considered the effect of blood thinning meds, I am on apixaban and that is rarely monitored, plus, my consultant was happy for me to come off it after my (unsuccessful ) cardioversion. It was my decision to stay on, he let me make that decision, which pleased me.

    I was considering the impact on my AF when I wrote this.

  • Hi Susan, when I first saw the warfarin nurse she told me that I should only have 3 units per day. In the next breath she told me that she had several alcoholics under her care and she managed to keep their warfarin levels under control. The important factor was consistency. I have had two ablations and am now free of symptoms. I do enjoy a drink or three and providing I do this every day I keep my warfarin levels stable and don't have any cardiac issues.

  • GrahamHunter Now I do agree that consistency is important, I kept taking my tablets at odd times and forgetting taking them and in the end I now get a pill box made up by the chemist and pretty much take them at a regular time (give or take an hour) and I do feel thos has helped though have no evidence of that.

  • I think for most people alcohol is only a problem if taken in excess. There are other lifestyle factors which have a greater effect - e.g. reduction in excess weight, stopping smoking, good blood pressure control, elimination of diabetes, treatment of sleep disorders and, possibly a contributor for me, cutting down on excessive exercise. These will all help reduce inflammation.

    Research has shown that alcohol in moderation has a positive effect on the heart, as of course does exercise as long as it's not excessive.

  • I was lectured by the AF nurse when i was first diagnosed about drinking alcohol. I did cut it out completely for a period as i was on warfarin waiting for a cardioversion.

    I now drink alcohol probably to the same extent that i did prior to my AF diagnosis (just returned from summer holiday where i drank alcohol probably every day for 2 weeks)

    The main thing that i have stopped almost completely is caffeine. I drink caffeine free cola and tea also. If i forget or someone gets me a drink with caffeine (usually a take out coffee) then i still have it, but it is very rare.

    I still have my fingers crossed as i don't know if there is a trigger or just a genetic development.

    And like others have said everyone of us seems to have different symptoms and triggers

    Good luck

  • @johndeanp that's interesting that you feel caffeine is more of a stimulant.

    Yes I do agree we are all different! Also I often wonder how many symptoms or feelings are because we are ageing and cant do as much than the afib? Its easy to blame it on the condition isn't it?

  • Would you rather live a long miserable life or a shorter happy one. Ha ha. Enjoy the occasional glass of wine. My Cardiologist said "everything in moderation"

  • Depends on how much shorter you only get one chance at life!

  • I suppose it depends what it is.🤔

    I am currently watching a relative my age battling terminal lung, bone, stomach and lymph cancer. The treatment she is having IF it works MAY buy her a bit of time but not much

    I think I would elect for less time and none of the horror she is going through.

    I have had such awful reactions to drugs prescribed plus all the cardioversions, ablations and a few unrelated things that I sometimes reach saturation point😕

  • I totally understand.


  • Puddychops I agree, I think thats what I would choose as well, but then think that until and if it happens I may make a different decision.

  • I totally understand because a dear friend of mine's wife died on Sunday after about >10 years of progressive dementia.


  • Patient007 quite right!

  • Thank goodness for someone sensible. X

  • I was naughty and used to binge drink which caused episodes but at the time I did not know it was AF. Once I was diagnosed I did stop drinking altogether for a while. I was told that I could drink in moderation. I have found that wine, prosecco and vodka are my biggest triggers and unfortunately I can't drink them at all now (wasn't happy as they were my favourite tipple 😐). I am ok with the odd lager or cider but don't tend to drink much anymore which doesn't bother me. 🙂

  • Shellyrich prosecco is my favourite as well, does it trigger an episode for you? Thats a real shame, I dont drink spirits, to be honest I would be too scared of getting completely blitzed as I am. NOt used to it

  • I make my own wine and have about two hundred bottles of the stuff at the minute. Elderflower, Bramble, Bilberry, Damson, Plum, Elderberry, etc. No preservatives etc, in fact no additives at all. I have no idea what effect this has on my ticker but it is nice stuff - especially the Damson this year. :-)

  • I gave up drinking alcohol two years ago in an attempt to stop all potential AF triggers. But I chose to use alcohol in cooking about twice a week (red wine in bolognese, etc), because I believed that the alcohol content would be 'cooked off' and I'd be ok.

    However, now I'm on Apixaban and Verapamil, alcohol is contra-indicated with both of these, so I'm uncertain whether even 'cooked off' alcohol is allowed! What a shame if it is, as I do love using a little wine/sherry/cinzano, when cooking!

  • WendyWu20 I am on apixaban and not sure it has a bad affect?

  • Alcohol by itself has anti coagulant properties, so I don't want to risk increasing the potential for a bleed while on Apixaban. Also the Verapamil causes alcohol to circulate much longer in the blood before being metabolised (I'm a cheap night out haha). I have just researched the 'cooking off' process, and apparently it takes two hours of simmering and stirring to evaporate the alcohol down to 10%. No wonder I enjoy the alcohol-enriched cooking :o)

  • My EP has assured me that alcohol in moderation is fine, and I've never found it to be a trigger. I've read, however, that red wine may be a trigger for some.

  • If I drink a lot (more than 1-2 glasses wine) it can act as trigger - especially Prosecco or Italian whites - not such a problem with reds. I don't seem to have so much of a problem with others so will try to find a French wine on the menu.

    It just shows we're all different and what is a trigger for some may not be for others.

  • Well. Alcohol is a depressant and is likely to slow our heart rate to the point where it triggers an AFib episode. This is bad and should be avoided - unless - you can counter the depressive effects. Coffee is a stimulant and increases our heart rate. Same for cigarettes.

    So, you can drink booze if you balance with coffee (Baileys in Coffee should do the trick). Or, just smoke cigs while you drink (I found dipping snuff is hard while boozin).

    Seriously (well, not really), I find it interesting when a doctor says: "Do you do so and so?"... Such as "Do you drink coffee or booze?". I think it's a setup. They want you to continue to do something that you're going to do anyway, that has absolutely no difference on your medical outcome so they can blame you when what they do doesn't work. So drink up, booze ain't bad but I hear that worry is an AFib trigger.

    Disclaimer: All of this is irony and is to be totally disregarded.

  • jbrucej

    Ironic? If its to be disregarded why write it?

    Its interesting and I never thought of it like that, does alcohol slow your heart?

    And I agreee that some do ask leading questions mind, its frustrating when they do, am sure we all do things that are potentially bad, but I suppose there is medical evidence to prove its bad for you?

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