AF Association
13,590 members16,478 posts

Food and drink

I just want to ask how people felt when diagnosed that food and drink which probably was every day things could now trigger a episode of AF.How did you deal with things and what did you then avoid

I am interested to see if there is a possible pattern or connection

80 Replies
oldestnewest

I didn't know so carried on as usual, small amount of coffee, chocolate and very small amounts of alcohol. I do try to avoid bloating because that is a definite trigger, scones (lots of raising agent) should be a no-no but I am always tempted......

5 likes
Reply

Lol I love my food Alcohol I can live without even though I do enjoy a drink Coffee and tea have been decaffeinated for years and years any way

1 like
Reply

When I was diagnosed( 2015) I eventually saw an EP. His first visit with me was mostly about life style changes and " it would b best if you avoid alcohol". I wasnt a regular drinker but I followed his advice. Hardest part is healthier eating, still not great but better, lol

Reply

So much is unhealthy it's so not fair and it's hard to resist my head is weak lol

1 like
Reply

Im a big believer in moderation, so trying to " be good" 80% , which leaves a little wiggle room for cheese cake😉

3 likes
Reply

I remember reading something once about the 80/20 rule: If we eat healthy 80% of the time, and not so great the other 20% we're probably taking pretty good care of ourselves. Not a bad ratio.

5 likes
Reply

Ironically neither my ep or cardiologist have ever discussed what to avoid as to not triggers afib!! I have learned everything here and online on other websites. I find that a not neglitory on their part. I have had a cardioversion and one abasion but so far still have afib!!Try also getting gout a week after Heart attack and then afib. Between the two issues there isn't much you can eat or drink!! That's disappointing!!

4 likes
Reply

My EP told me that looking for triggers was the way to madness so I didn't. Stopped alcohol because I know it upset me and drink decaf tea but otherwise make no changes. Oh I did stop drinking Red Bull after my arrhythmia nurse gave me a b-ll-cking. lol Doesn't do to be too hyper.

8 likes
Reply

Lol I agree with EP oh and the nurse lol Least someone gave you what for lol

1 like
Reply

Most things in moderation I reckon, though I do keep saturated fats low, sensible portion sizes doesn't overwork the system. By the way I keep seeing the term EP regularly used, assume it's a professional title .... Silly question no doubt but what does it mean?

1 like
Reply

Sorry. I'm guilty of this. EP stands for Electrophysiologist- a specialized cardiologist who handles cardiac rhythm problems. They do the ablation, pacemakers, and other procedures. Here in the US I use it to differentiate between my regular cardiologist and the one who handles my atrial fibrillation. A-fib can be picked up by any doctor-a GP/ ER doc-anyone who does an EKG. But once diagnosed we are usually handed over to an EP as they are the top of the ladder for a-fib treatment. Take care. irina

Reply

Thanks so much for the detailed explanation Irina, I was beginning to think I was missing out as I have to my knowledge only seen Hospital Consultant, Cardiologist, GP and Practice Nurse. I will certainly keep the EP's function stored in my vastly expanding knowledge base 👍

1 like
Reply

You're very welcome. I was a nurse for so many years and sometimes I forget that abbreviations that I understand can be a foreign language for other. I guess many different careers have their own special language and we forget and use it too often.🐕

1 like
Reply

My cardiologist could not pick up my SVT. Stress test etc were fine. Only wearing the cardiac monitor for a month revealed extra, useless nodes. When I feel weak, clammy and confused, I know the blood flow has been interrupted...exactly how I was on Railroad, close to fainting, that motivated me to follow up.

1 like
Reply

Hi hock. For some reason, it seems to take many of us a while to get an accurate cause for our cardiac problems-one that can guide effective treatment. For me it took between 1-2 years of trial and error meds, cardioversions, tests, and procedures. Now I don't take any meds-just have my pacemaker, AV node ablation, and my Watchman device. I don't even think about my heart situation everyday anymore. I guess the heart is a fickle organ and doesn't give up its secrets easily. But sooner or later we find what works and life settles down to a new livable, comfortable 'normal'. I hope this is just around the corner for you. I did go through several cardiologists til I found my current Electrophysiologist who figured out my best treatment. I'm lucky because I can also ask him for guidance about other problems that have nothing to do with my heart. Not treatment recommendations but which physicians he feels will work well for me. I'm now in my 8th year and doing well. irina

Reply

My cardiologist was very good. Despite tests being negative he had me wear a monitor with ten leads for a month. When SVT was revealed, he referred me to an Electrophysiologist at St Francis Hospital in Roslyn....One of the best. I opted for an ablation because I thought it would fix the problem and free me to take a third safari and whatever else until I die peacefully in my sleep one night. Energy increased the last few days. All laundry is done and other postponed tasks. I think the loving support on this site after sharing my needs assessment and story was the Rx I needed. Thank you so much!

Reply

Everyone is very different - only way to correlate food and drink triggers is to keep a symptom/diet log and note everything you eat. Every time I thought I had nailed it - AF changed. Bob told me when I began my journey that chasing triggers was the road to madness. Reluctantly, having tried really hard to prove him wrong -I now agree.

However - biggest for me is just moving after I’ve eaten. I now stay very quiet and don’t rise from the table for 30 mins.

There is a reason the Parasympthetic system is named ‘rest and digest’.

adrenalfatiguesolution.com/...

5 likes
Reply

My family would say I'm mad already lol I cannot do with this worrying over what will and what won't bring in AF but don't want episodes like I had either

2 likes
Reply

I too find that I need to rest after eating. I can't and don't eat large portions of food, but I do feel ill if I try to move too soon after eating. My husband thinks it's my way of avoiding the washing-up!!!

1 like
Reply

Just pulled up the website you mentioned and signed up for the newsletter. A free ebook download is offered with 50 tips about handling stress and lessening adrenal fatigue. It's too bad this diagnosis is so ignored by so many doctors as just living in today's world probably makes many of us vulnerable to adrenal problems. And like thyroid issues it seems up to us to solve our own symptoms.. The tips are taken from many different experts many of whom are frequently mentioned in this forum. Worth a look and a download. Thanks CD

Reply

The only thing I have really missed is my diet coke. I already drink decaf tea have done for years but I loved a couple of cans of diet coke or cherry Pepsi Max a day. I replaced it with lucozade zero only to find out that had caffeine in it too. Have 25g of 85% dark chocolate twice a week at most but other than that I don't really miss anything.

Reply

Caffeine is my trigger but I love diet coke too so tried the caffeine free version and It works for me 😉

1 like
Reply

I'm with you. I sneak my small jar of real coffee into the hospital as a defense against that noxious decaffeinated stuff. My heart doctor is aware and is fine with real coffee but sometimes staff gets crazy when the hospital policy is decaf coffee for cardiac patients and I don't want to go along with the system. I have been told more than once I am not the ideal patient! Tee Hee.

1 like
Reply

Yer I have drunk that for a while when having alcoholic drink

Reply

For me, it's sugar. Anything with a lot of sugar in it can set me off and that includes alcohol.

2 likes
Reply

And sugar is natural

1 like
Reply

I believe consuming too many foods containing artificial sweeteners were responsible for the onset of my AF. I was drinking diet lemonade, eating what I thought were healthy yogurts, using sweeteners in my hot drinks and chewing sugar free gum which were all full of them.

I cut it all out, but I discovered it was the trigger for sure when every time I had apple crumble at work, my heart took off. I asked our cook if it contained artificial sweeteners and she said no. Still it happened every time, then one day she came into my office and said, Jean I'm sorry but the artificial sweeteners are in the custard. There was my proof! Wouldn't touch it with a barge pole now, in fact everything I eat is additive free.

Jean

6 likes
Reply

I think ibrifen gel started my AF I had soft muscle damage in arm and shoulder in February This all started in May Plus I used it for knee also

Reply

Hi Vonnie hope all’s well I could do with a nice glass of wine been on jury service all week that really got my heart racing !!! But I did it - one more week to go !!!

Reply

Bet you could and I bet you cannot wait till next week is over

Reply

I am glad I did it was a bit stressful and I could feel my heart pounding but just took deep breaths and kept calm 😄

Reply

There you go all accomplished Should be proud of yourself

1 like
Reply

As ever some different trains of thought. I have identified so many foods/drinks that have kicked off my Afib, to then find on another day I am fine. The main thing for me is (volume), too much of anything ie drink/food or both will definitely start it off.

I would also mention that stimulants that can also cause Afib sessions, come in many different forms. We have the everyday types like caffiene, alcohol, red bull etc that are readily recognised. However the hidden/not too obvious types, like pastries/cakes, English breakfast, curries, graveys etc all have fats that will give you/I an energy boost to the system, an energy boost that will also kick Afib off......sometime so much later in the day/night. That (sometime later bit), can throw you/I off track. I feel that anything that is likely to boost your system.....is also one to watch out for.

4 likes
Reply

Surely the would be nothing left to eat It's too expensive to eat everything we should eat Well for many it is

Reply

If there is a key, then as said by others, it is "Moderation". Timing is also important, it is no good for me to eat foods high in fats ie cheese prior to bedtime, however I can get away with it (sometimes), during daytime.

4 likes
Reply

Wine, which I had drunk for most of my life, became a total no-no, triggering arrhythmias. It broke my heart to give it up.😩

A sugar rush or carelessness with sweeter food will also give me bother.

Interestingly, seeing an old friend after six months, sitting chatting and laughing gave me an attack of tachycardia this afternoon. You can’t bloomin’ well win.

3 likes
Reply

Gee wizz Finvola Hope you ok now

Reply

Thanks, Vonnieruth - fine again. I think I was excited to see her again and probably was not breathing properly. Once I stopped yapping twenty to the dozen and calmed down - and breathed - I was OK. Probably an adrenaline rush.

1 like
Reply

I have a theory about making changes. At least this is usually how I am able to make healthy changes. For me 'cold turkey' has never worked. I approach change like a process. When I find a food that causes me problems or is not something I should eat or drink because of medical issues I just do the best I can day to day. I always backslide especially in the beginning but over time feelings of being unwell or having pain begin to be more important to avoid than hanging onto the few minutes enjoying the offending food. We all have different triggers so I won't list mine except for one-gluten. I've let go of other foods without much difficulty but bread/pasta, etc has been very hard. And I don't like substitutes; Jt's the real thing or nothing. But over time after eating gluten, white flour, sugar, etc the mild abdominal discomfort I felt for a few hours after eating trigger foods began to feel worse, last longer, and often it took two or three day before I felt 100% again. Without really being aware of when I was able to say no to offending foods a subtle change recently took place and I am not tempted. It's like I know how bad I will feel for the next few days (more joint pain, stomach discomfort, fatigue, insomnia and other sx) and no food is worth causing me to feel so bad for so long.. So be gentle with yourself, don't beat yourself up, or feel guilty when you take a step or two backward. The day will come when along with meds, if needed, diet changes, and other treatments you will realize that feeling good-sometimes for the first time in years- is worth whatever you have to do to continue that feeling. Everything we learn to take better care of ourselves in life is a process. And we all set our own timetable. Good luck and take care. irina

6 likes
Reply

I've not touched alcohol for 20 years, no caffeine either. I stick to small healthy meals and always eat early never after 6pm. I eat chocolate in moderation. I too have looked for food triggers but never found any, alcohol was my worst but stopped that as mentioned. I keep a healthy BMI and that's the best I can do really... Oh yes and generally stick to what I know food wise, which is quite varied. I stay away from fizzy drinks too because of all of the additives and of course no energy drinks.. Not even lucozade... It makes new years Eve sometimes boring but no hangover either so that's a deal.....Life in the party lane eh!

3 likes
Reply

I tried appletise today was nice I let it go slightly flat though

2 likes
Reply

Yes that's one of few fizzy drinks I will have.... Nice with ice 👍

Reply

And sometimes when we're at a gathering and sober watching other guests who are slightly blitzed can be it's own form of entertainment!

Reply

So true they become quite comical

1 like
Reply

"Live theatre!😂."

Reply

Like everyone else’s comments I also started with many foods etc etc But to my surprise after having an ablation I no longer have any reactions. I would never have thought that would cure my food issues?

Reply

Lucky you!! Success seems to be exception to the rule regarding afib!! I made it to 70 with no issues. Then I threw a clot which completely blocked coronary artery! Thus I am lucky to be alive and acquired two stents and afib afterwards!! Then gout a week or so after. So I am making up for 70 Lucky yrs. I guess!!!

Reply

Do you eat cherries for the gout everyday?

Reply

Hi,

Many months after I was diagnosed with AF I identified food as the trigger. Symptoms were akin to those of IBS and Coeliac Disease. My GP ran some blood tests and eliminated those two suspects, I then consulted a Nutritionist who advised me on a diet and taught me how to self monitor this diet. Basically I'm now wheat free, oats free, gluten free and pick the eyes out of the FODMAPS diet. I've been doing this now for about 7 years, I've only had one AF event in over 3 and half years and that was in February 2018 when I woke in AF in the early hours when sleeping on my left side.

I have made no concessions to AF (or warfarin or any other of my party bag of drugs) in respect of beverages or alcohol. None at all.

John

5 likes
Reply

We are all so different. You just have to listen to your own body and adapt if needs be. My AF has not restricted my food and drink choices in any way even when I was on warfarin.

4 likes
Reply

I haven’t found that particular foods are a trigger. Stress really sets my AFib going. I’ve cut down on alcohol and hardly drink any coffee. Trying to loose weight but that’s an uphill task!

Stress is very difficult to tackle. I have even stopped seeing some people who trigger my stress. Think I need to give meditation a go and learn how to relax! Easier said than done!

1 like
Reply

I changed from drinking red wine to white in moderation. Smaller meals, and earlier in the evening. Also take a B vit complex, multi vit and magnesium citrate. Mostly decaff tea and always decaff coffee.

1 like
Reply

I to have all decaffeinated have done for years least ten now

Reply

I have not been able to find any common denominator with mine I have eat and drunk different things each time I've had an Afib attack. I don't drink alcohol because of the drugs I'm taking. But I have given up seeking a trigger. Never been given any food or drink advice by gp or cardiology.

1 like
Reply

I am tending to just do that also

1 like
Reply

For me Very definitely coffee and tea even decaf, alcohol even in moderation. All caffeinated brews, coke etc...Post ablation I still found I was very sensitive to them so steered clear.

Four years on I drink tea ....but am careful.

I don’t miss the other stuff....sniff the coffee and the wine just for old times sake!

Reply

And sleeping on left side..

1 like
Reply

I sleep in left Don't know if it's being left handed

Reply

I mean NOT SLEEPING LEFT SIDE.

It used to trigger AF immediately.....Doc said it wAs nonsense....but you know what you know. Odd how some docs are so dismissive of lived experience of patients....Still he was great surgeon...

1 like
Reply

Hi,

I sometimes wear a sports heart monitor when I work out at the gym. When I laid down on the mats to do some stretching, my heart rate would instantly double when I rolled over on my left side. All the EPs and cardiologists said it was just a coincidence ! It's no coincidence that

I am now on cardiologist number 6 !

I was referred to this cardiologist by my functional medicine doctor. When I told him about the left side trigger he looked up from his note taking and said "interesting, it's a mechanical issue." He ordered a stress test and an ultra sound. I scored really well on the stress test but they found a fatty liver on the ultra sound. He suggested some inexpensive herbal supplements and a slight diet change, (I used to drink a lot of wine ) and in 6 months the next ultra sound showed my liver to be completely normal ! And guess what, no more trigger when I lay on my left side !

I feel that most doctors take their notes in med school and that's where their learning ends. And then we patients couldn't possibly know anything about our own bodies and we bore them. I consider myself very lucky to have found this doctor. He then suggested I take a food sensitivity blood test and found out I am allergic or highly sensitive to almost every food I eat all day ! This has my body in a constant state of inflammation. That's not good. Changed my diet accordingly, and feel more at ease now.

It's really important to find the right doctor.

1 like
Reply

Wow, what a lot of answers, and all different. I have come to believe that NO ONE really knows what their triggers are - if there is such a thing. I know there are a few common factors in my circumstances at the times my AF has started, but that could still be coincidence. A lot of people are blaming alcohol (or at least naming it as a villain), but I regularly enjoy a drink without repercussions and in at least one episode (my first) I hadn't drunk any at all.

I'm sorry I can't be more constructive - I think we all wish we could.

Reply

You only know for sure what triggers you.!!!

Another person is another country!

All you can do is work within what you know and adjust as you learn more....

It has certainly made me more self aware and willing to trust my experience....listen to others but not assume it will work for me. Having said that I have had a lot of sensible support from friends and doctors....all in all that has been an upside to a difficult time.

Reply

Am currently on a three month break in France in our Motorhome. Am averaging 3 AF episodes a week, having one at the moment! Have cut out coffee, alcohol, just had normal breakfast of baguette, orange juice and decaf coffee and here I am.

I really can’t find a definite trigger, just know a couple of heavy beats trips my heart up and the fandango begins.

Di

Reply

Aww I hope it stops for you Three months in France sounds marvelous

1 like
Reply

Didn't matter what I ate or drank I still had it. The only thing that sorted it was the ablation.

Reply

Hope you still sorted now

Reply

Hi. I put on weight after being in hospital with AF. Have been doing Slimmers World for just over a year and have lost over 2 1/2 stone. Their eating plan is good for healthy life style . big reduction in fats and sugars obviously both of which are bad for hearts. I love my white so haven't given up alcohol but lucky is that it doesn't trigger anything. Did drink a lot of coffee now just have 1 mug a day. Everything in moderation is the best advice.

Reply

Well done Ally on weight loss I have lost well over stone and a half with the anxiety this. condition has caused U could afford to loose it though

Reply

Nearly forgot - when I left hospital, I got a splendid little book put together by the British Heart Foundation about making changes in lifestyle to maintain a healthy heart. Try and get hold of a copy.

Reply

Any idea where i would get one

Reply

bhf.org.uk/publications - a whole range of booklets. or call BHF on 0300 330 3311 - their helpline for all heart related info.

Reply

For me alcohol is the only clear trigger. Caffeine is ok, as long as I am already up and about (no more Sunday mornings with coffee and paper in bed).

Overeating may be a trigger but if so it’s a weak one.

I’ll keep this in mind in the future: “However - biggest for me is just moving after I’ve eaten. I now stay very quiet and don’t rise from the table for 30 mins.“

Reply

Hi thanks for comment I am still waiting to see if I have any triggers Have kept off chocolate since diagnosed Was already on decaffe

Reply

I immediately changed what and when I ate. I have been free of AF for 1 year (still have palps but not considered AF). Today is my AF anniversary. In the process I lost 70 pounds but it is still a work in progress as I have 70 more pounds to go. It was very hard, scary and at times unbearable not knowing if it was going to hit again - a lot of prayer, meditation and learning how to breath to calm myself...and most important lots of faith that somehow someway it would be manageable. I have silently enjoyed reading each one of your post here in California and know your wisdom and experience with AF was a factor in pulling me thru without losing my wits with AF.

FYI: I stopped caffeine (absolutely no coffee, sodas or chocolate), avoided sugar, only ate turkey, veggies and whole grains.

Much appreciated,

Maggie

3 likes
Reply

Hi Vonnie :-) I have no idea if something I have eaten has been a 'trigger' for me but I doubt it and think a combination of other things may have caused my AF including high blood pressure and getting upset about something which releases stress hormones.

Who knows, I guess we can never be sure.

So I take a different approach to many and look for things I should eat to help my body to fight AF rather than things I shouldn't eat :-) I feel if I can keep my weight down and provide all the nutrients my body needs including foods that 'repair' I have the best chance of stopping the progression of P-AF. I guess I am lucky in that I actually like 'healthy' foods and cooking them in interesting ways so going without certain things is no big deal.

I have just been away on holiday and ate chips/an ice cream/ham for the first time in a year all forbidden to me. It was fun to have a couple of days off but now I am used to my healthy eating regime I missed it.

Looking at things logically, if I am hungry I need to eat and will feel better when I do. To get rid of the hunger I can choose to eat healthy or none healthy foods, the end result is the same my hunger has gone so I might as well be good to my body and eat healthily.

Reply

I understand that and agree but it is not always financially to be able to do this for some So what do we do

Reply

I have at least 2 cups of coffee daily. Sotalol makes me tired. I also have a 1 or 2 drinks a few times a weak. Been feeling better...like a "get out of jail free" effect...and crave a normal life again. Did 3 of 4 backed up laundry loads last night. I was weak and confused i.e. remembering which dryer of ten my clothes were in. Today is a good day and it's 75 with low humidity so will do last load. Hope springs eternal.

Reply

Done all my ironing today Was like a sauna

Reply

By the way... the main trigger for Afib in food and drink is a substance (a naturally occurring trace amine) called tyramine. Google the words tyramine together with Afib and see what comes up. Tyramine is a known trigger for migraine headaches and it is now believed to trigger Afib as well. Tyramine somehow impacts blood vessel behaviour (mainly causes vessel dilation).., and in this sense think about our 4 pulmonary veins that attach to the left atrium! "Problem" pulmonary veins are responsible for over 90% of the Afib cases/events in patients.

Regards, Richard

Reply

Ar right will take a look

Reply

You may also like...