Enlarged left atrium : Hi everyone. Well... - AF Association

AF Association
19,953 members24,379 posts

Enlarged left atrium


Hi everyone. Well hubby has been off since September 2017 with AF. Had one electro fusion which worked sort of for 5 days, then back in AF and ecg and mri confirmed. Consultant referred hubby to another consultant for ablation and this new guy has been the first to tell us that his left atrium is stretched/enlarged. Has suggested another electro fusion first. Anyway are there fellow ‘enlarged’ sufferers that have any words of hope that this can be controlled and that he may beable to go back to some form of work. Currently unable to work as dvla has suspended hgv licence until 3 months clear of symptoms and signed off . New consultant seems to think it’s doubtful. Husbands symptoms can just sprout at anytime, total exhaustion or dizzy and occasional chest pains. Currently taking Apixaban and sotalol. Many thanks in advance you lovely people xx

17 Replies

Hi, Sorry to hear this- it's worse when work is affected. The enlarged left atrium is normal with AF and if he has treatment which stops the AF it can well reduce in size.

It's hard to know what the outcome is as depends on what can be offered. Ablation is a big step and he needs to research all the risks.

Cardioversion often doesn't work but is done to see if the person feels better in normal rhythm which may mean ablation would be a good idea. The alternative may be drugs but they also have side effects. People usually decide on whether their quality of life is affected so much it is worth the risk of ablation. I hope he gets on well keep us posted

JoBrien in reply to rosyG

Hi RosieG. Thank you for your reply. We did think this new consultant was going to suggest ablation, but wants hubby to loose bit of weight, which has come on through not working. Vicious circle !! I think the frustrating thing is the not knowing what the future holds re treatment and success and the stress of only one wage coming in and only a month of SSP wages to go. Don’t actually know what way to turn for help. Stress for AF peeps and partners xx

rosyG in reply to JoBrien

losing weight is really important for ablation to have a good chance- it also helps to reduce episodes of AF. Ask him to stop any alcohol and have walks if possible.

Try to avoid processed food and have vegetables if possible. Do al the research possible on ablation so he can decide what to do. Look into what benefits he may be able to get after the month is up- there must be some help available.

I'm sorry this is so difficult- keep posting as people will all have good suggestions.

JoBrien in reply to rosyG

Hi. RosieG.

Yes he’s going for walks when it’s s good spell and booze has taken a big nose dive.

I’m sure it will all work out ok and as they say ‘things happen for a reason’, I’m just not sure what the reason for this is yet!! Xx

Hi JoBrien,

I had this diagnosis as part of my overall AF diagnosis. It was found as part of my echocardiogram. It can be the source of an AF induced stroke. I am on Warfarin to hopefully prevent this. Am on Bisoprolol to calm the heart and keep my heart rate to something respectable.

I hold a PCV licence so can understand what you are saying about DVLA.

I declined an ablation. Didn't think it was appropriate for me. I went down the diet route finding out what triggered my AF then cut it out of my diet.

I was off the road for 3 months got my PCV reinstated and been on the road on buses ever since.


JoBrien in reply to carneuny

Hi Carneuny,

Thank you for your reply.

He has cut out eating bread daily as that won’t help with the weight. Tends to now eat cereal and fruit during the day and I’ve cut down evening meal portion. His belly bless him is more distended rather then fat and is solid. May have a chat with the nurses next week when he goes to get wired up for 24hour monitor again.

He could drive a car now, but doesn’t feel confident that he won’t have ‘a turn’ whilst our. Wise choice of course but frustrating.

I think I get frustrated at the uncertainty of it all and not being able to think ‘well ok this is now but in 2 months time he will be back to normal!!’

carneuny in reply to JoBrien

Hi JoBrien,

I do understand your feelings. The uncertainty in the beginning was probably worse than the AF itself. But hey there is life with AF.

I bet he likes a beer, both at home and with his mates down the pub. I found some beers upset my gut - all those pub and supermarket real ales I cut out. In fact anything containing Gluten, wheat and oats could well trip me into AF.

I had weird symptoms, diahorrea, bloating, burping and intestinal gurgling - not all at once, any at random but the bloating and distended stomach was the worst and the most likely to trigger AF. There were times when I could watch my stomach inflate like I was on a car airline at a garage pumping up my tyres - all because of what I'd eaten.

I consulted a Nutritionist who advised me on diet, watch the fruit too - have a look at FODMAPS diet and read up about that. Hell, if I followed the health mantra of 5 to 7 fruit and veg a day I'd be permanently in the bathroom and most likely in permanent AF.

By the way, since I've been watching my food I have not lost weight. But I never intended to. However, I do get plenty of exercise. OK, so he may not feel confident in driving a car but, try and get him out walking, short distances, local to home, in a park until his confidence builds. Loss of weight will always help.

The key problem here is the vagal nerve, a nerve of the central nervous system which controls the heart and digestive system, acts a bit like an information super highway between the gut, the heart and the brain. Google vagal nerve. Problem today is most nurses haven't a clue what it is and a great many cardio consultants are in denial about it.

My diet nowadays extends far more widely than cutting out gluten, wheat and oats. I ended up keeping a food diary identifying what foods upset me - so, yoghurt, raspberries, pork, duck, runner beans, peas, baked beans ....... that's just the start, but it'll give you an idea of the dynamics of this thing.

Following this food diet I haven't had an AF event since April 2015 and no ablation either. I still believe I can improve my heart health further by looking more closely at foods.


Redders in reply to carneuny

Please John could you send me your diet as your symptoms sound just like mine. Have been in af since last Tuesday but before that o was 19 months free of af after my 2nd ablation. Thank you in anticipation. Val

carneuny in reply to Redders

Hi Val,

Yeah, sure.

Firstly, the very first thing I did was to go gluten free and wheat free. A short while later I went oats free. That was in the first half of 2011, can't remember the exact dates (I was diagnosed with AF in Jan 2010). This had a stabilising effect on the symptoms I described.

In late 2011/early 2012 I began experimenting with other foods - so the list of stuff I now cannot tolerate is (in no particular order or sequence or value);

runner beans, baked beans, all soft cheeses (yet hard cheeses like Edam or Cheddar are OK), raspberries and cream ( yet strawberries and cream are OK), onions (yet spring onions/shallots are fine, as indeed are radish), all salad greens ( but in small quantities rocket is OK), yoghurt, bread (although bread made of sour dough is OK, but in small quantities), peas, duck, pork, real ales as you might find in an English pub, thick gravy, most processed meats, grapes (except in limited quantities) , citrus fruits, plums (but stewed plums and custard is OK), nuts like almonds, walnuts are out ( but salted peanuts or cashews are OK).

I also looked more seriously at sugar. The reason here is twofold. My father died from mature onset diabetes. Two, I had an eyesight test the result of which was the optician refused to prescribe new lenses as he could tell from my eyes (retina I think) that I was approaching borderline pre diabetic. A specific blood test was organised by my GP and the result confirmed I was pre diabetic. I then cut out all added sugar from my diet - just cold turkey - in blind panic I might add.

Nowadays, my blood sugar is well within the normal range and I have no problems, so no added sugar and little or no sugar that may be found in some fruit. In this regard you may wish to look at the FODMAPS diet... google it.

I might add that nowadays the only sugar I have is what is manufactured in a product. I adopt the same policy ( and have done for some 20 years) with salt.

The only beers I can drink now are alcohol free beer, or Peroni, or Tiger Beer and at a push San Miquel. Spirits don't interest me but G & T is OK, all wine, red and white is OK.

I use the word diet with some hesitation as there is something in peoples minds that suggest if you diet you loose weight. I never approached this diet with the view to loosing weight (and I have not lost weight). Also, what I have described applies to me and my body, my vagal nerve, my gut and my heart. Others may find some common themes but they will almost certainly find some variations.

I remain convinced that it is not just a specific food itself that is important but the way foods interact with each other that is important.

My purpose was to control my AF by calming the vagal nerve, that in turn will calm the gut (the digestive system) and ultimately the heart. This seems to have worked but it is very much a work in progress.

I am on medication which is playing its part, Warfarin, Bisoprolol and some blood pressure meds and statins. They are playing their part and I have no intention of varying them. But the litmus test is, no AF since April 2015. Palpitations, short bursts out of the blue, lasting only a few seconds ...... but, that's it.

Hope this all helps you.


Redders in reply to carneuny

Thank you so much John, I will try the gluten and wheat free first and see how I go. Regards. Val

JoBrien in reply to carneuny

Hi John,

Thank you so very much for your reply and tips etc.

I shall defo look up everything and start the gluten free to kick start off our illumination process!!

Take care and wish you well

Joanne x

I am of very normal weight but wanted to try eating less a couple of years ago to see if it might 'eliminate' afib symptoms. Mty GP thought it a good idea .So out went most bread,rice,potatoes and no pasta. Yes. Ido eat but about half of what I used to.Feel much better and only have rare Afib symptoms....last one last August.I eat very little meat or fish either.If your husband cannot exercise much this might be an approach worth trying.

JoBrien in reply to 10gingercats

Thank you 10gingercats I shall do some googling re diets.

I’m really pleased for you that eliminating foods has helped you and I shal try these on him.


mrahbar in reply to 10gingercats

Do you take medicine for Afib?

Hello Jo - if it is any consolation, the months after diagnosis and before settling on effective treatment are the worst. I feel too that our partners have the extra burden of worry and watching us in distress during AF.

I was diagnosed with PAF over four years ago after six or seven years of strange episodes. Echocardiogram showed both atria to be enlarged but I was told that this could lessen with treatment to stop the AF. I started Flecainide four years ago and haven’t had AF since (fingers xxxxxx).

Your hubby can help his general well being by dietary changes as others have said, gentle exercise - I walk a lot - and by having little goals which are achieveable. An awful lot of my misery at the beginning was caused by fear and anxiety - I wouldn’t go out alone in case of an attack, couldn’t walk for breathlessness, etc, etc. The first time I went shopping alone was mind-numbingly scary but it was an achievement.

Many of us find that slow, deep breathing helps with symptoms and also calms down the accompanying anxiety. I do hope your husband can get effective treatment - as so many of us have - and return to good quality of life. I can recommend the main AFA website which is full of advice on everything about AF and treatment options. Any question you may have - ask away.


Best wishes

JoBrien in reply to Finvola

Thank you so very much Finvola.

It’s the unknown time scale isn’t it that I think is just as stressful. Waiting for appointments, treatments and then the wait to see if things get any better. Dave my husband is in limbo as to what to do with his job, as they won’t pay him SSP for much longer and can’t give them a time scale as to when/if he will he back even.

I have told him everyone’s feed back especially re foods to maybe try to avoid and we will see how it goes.

Take care and wish you well also.

Joanne x

Deep breathing has already been mentioned. Qigong ( just use Uncle Google) may help. Good luck.

You may also like...