Alcohol and Afib: I have recently been... - AF Association

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Alcohol and Afib

Samazeuilh profile image

I have recently been diagnosed with PAF, and am wondering what is a reasonable level of alcohol to drink. I take 2x40 mcg of Sotalol every day. The U.K. limit for everyone is now 14 units per week (I think it is higher in the U.S). Would it be reasonable to drink that amount per week? I haven’t had any specific recommendation from my doctor.

I cannot recall any occasion when drinking alcohol has triggered AF, although I am newly diagnosed and haven’t had that many episodes. Occasionally, I get a heartbeat or two which is “clunking” or feels “heavy” while drinking. Obviously- and this is paramount- I don’t want to risk making the situation worse.

What are the experiences of folk here with AF and alcohol? Are some drinks better than others, eg wine V beer?

23 Replies

Alcohol and AF are not good bedfellows but everyone is different. Some will go into AF if they sniff the cork whereas others claim it does not effect them. In my case it was easy as I was not a great drinker, so I never touched a drop for almost a year. I now share a can of lager most nights with my wife and have an occasional glass of wine. On two occasions I had some “bubbles” and it kicked off big time......

Hi there, I stopped drinking last November, I am positive it is alcohol that starts it off. I have drunk wine for many years and the odd gin and loved it. If I had a g and t now I think I would end up in hospital by morning. I also think overdoing it can start a bout off. We AF ears need a good sleep and to look after ourselves we learn the hard way. X

Alcohol is a know AF trigger for many of us.

I stopped 2 years ago and after my last ablation a year ago have been AF free. I am certainly not going to risk drinking alcohol now despite how tempting it can be.


Alcohol is a strange one even when one is well. I'm sure that we have all met the person who can drink a gallon of gin with no effects but gets piddled on a glass of beer/lager. Having established that drinking can/will effect us all, (unfortunately differently), then there will be no clear cut answer.

However! Any large consumption/volume of drink, inclusive of food, is going to affect your internal organs ie less room to function etc. Also take into account the strength factor, the stronger it is = more stimulation to your blood/your heart, the temperature of the drink can also set it off. Re temperature, I tend to sip, as opposed to whooshing. Imo It gives your body a chance to equalise with a sudden temperature change.

Unfortunately our condition is very much rogue. Last night I went out and drank 3.5 pints of beer and lager over a 2.5 hour period = not a peep. Another time a cold glass of water will set it off........It is going to have to be your call.

BobD profile image

Most people with AF stop alcohol once they are aware it can affect them. Excess alcohol is a known cause of AF and it is a common trigger so I would say there is no safe limit. I often have a small glass of chilled white as an aperitif before dinner but seem to know the days on which this is a bad idea just by how I feel. Used to love single malt (Tallisker) but seldom have the courage to try these days even after successful ablation.

Gillybean123 profile image
Gillybean123 in reply to BobD

Hi there, I feel the same, I never in a million years thought that I would be scared to have a drink. I always said it would take an illness to stop me drinking. But I stopped and I must admit I don’t miss that feeling you have in the morning when you have had too much. Just wish I had come to my senses sooner.

I feel exactly the same.I have read for many years that especially females should limit alcohol intake as it is a cause of heart disease. I felt it was Not going to happen to me.Well I am 2 weeks post ablation with a few healing episodes of AF going on so will never go down that road again.Even small amounts can be a toxin for some .Why take the change.

Wines contain sulphides which can trigger arrhythmias in some people - one of them being me, sadly. Many of us are able to tolerate the odd glass or two of our favourite tipple, but mostly, the recommendation is to treat alcohol with care.

I stopped my lovely wine drinking at diagnosis but have been known to sniff deeply at my husband’s single malt. 😀

Gillybean123 profile image
Gillybean123 in reply to Finvola

Hi Finvola, I sniff peoples drinks. Sad. Or just dip my finger in. ONLY family.

Finvola profile image
Finvola in reply to Gillybean123

Can you imagine the two of us at a polite party?

As some here will know, I have an arrhythmia other than AF. Although I am not medically trained, I suspect my experience will be recognisable to others here.

Earlier this year I queried total abstention with my cardiologist, as I hadn’t touched a drop for 4-5 months (including Christmas) although I had previously taken alcohol very moderately. He more or less gave me ‘permission’ to have an occasional drink. I found that I was OK with an occasional glass of wine with a meal and I would often go into NSR overnight if I had a small drink in an evening.

As others have said above, everyone is different, also the quality and basis of any guidance is debatable. Any limit is for you to decide but it seems that alcohol is a trigger for many people.

Incidentally, I also reverted to NSR when I was under GA for my recent ablation.

I too am on Sotalol 80 mg, 2x daily, and I drink no alcohol.

Not on sotalol but have an occasional glass of wine or a g& t. Like Bob you tend to know when it's ok. I can get anxiety symptoms and if they are around definitely no alcohol.

I didn’t drink at all fir the first 8 weeks.....but now i have a glass of beer if we go fact I had two last week......and at home I have a glass of red wine...I’m scared to have more though . I do find however drink lots of water at bedtime but always have done. I think what everyone says it’s just how the body reacts....

Alcohol was one of the things I gave up in an attempt to try and wrestle back some control of my AF, having never smoked done drugs etc that plus caffeine were two things I could cut out.

I'd like to say it's made a difference, but I'm still unstable(!) however I can genuinely tell if I've had a drink - I was at a wedding a month ago and had the free drinks punctuated by soft ones - I felt on edge... that "full" feeling like you need to burp but cant.... indigestion type feeling and it seemed to quicken my average resting heart rate for 6-8 hours after.

I don't need it, I don't miss it, and I know how I'm going to feel if I drink it. So I generally avoid it.

With AF no safe limit really stopped drinking I was more worried about AF than enjoying the drink.

It doesn't trigger my AF but I monitor my heart rate all the time with a Fitbit and I notice my heart rate does go up when i have a couple of glasses of wine so it depends what rate you are aiming for.

When I had AF I cut out alcohol for 6 weeks and it made no difference at all. I've now had a successful ablation and have a glass of red wine most nights.

I'd suggest you try stopping for a period and if it makes no difference then a glass of wine a night would be good for your health!

Hi Samazeuilh :-) I have reluctantly given up alcohol since being diagnosed with P-AF and it was a sad day when I gave away my little store of wine and a full bottle of gin :-( .

I didn't drink a lot, well under the recommended amount and I don't think it was a trigger for my P-AF .

I gave alcohol up for a number of reasons; firstly I am taking an anticoagulant and don't want to take anything that could increase my risk of a fall and if I bang my head, a visit to hospital . Secondly, I am taking beta blockers which slow down the heart rate and lower blood pressure and their action can be adversely affected by drinking alcohol also I don't wish to add another chemical to the cocktail I am already taking which can't be particularly good for my body.

Lastly, I wished to reduce my weight in line with the study that found weight loss may reduce the AF burden and as the calories in alcohol are high and 'negative' I prefer to spend any calories I consume on food.

We all have to decide what is best for our particular circumstances, I do miss a lovely glass of wine but am prepared to give it up if doing so helps to keep away the unpleasant and severe symptoms that for some of us accompany P-AF .

So far I am feeling much better :-) I did sneak in half a glass of chilled white wine when on holiday but I won't make a habit of it.

Hi, I’ve had 4 cardioversions and have come to the conclusion that alcohol is a contributing factor for me reverting back into AF from Sinus Rythm. After my 4th cardioversion in January this year I have not drunk alcohol at all and am currently still in SR.

My personal opinion is that if you like alcohol is it worth experimenting to see if it has a direct impact on your AF.

The experimentation required will depend on your own AF factors, but for example a few weeks of complete abstinence compared to regular drinking habits is a start. Or you could see if you can tolerate one or two drinks, but not more.

I'm fortunate in that drinking never seemed have a direct impact on my AF, but at the same time it seemed sensible to reduce the amount I drink as part of a wider range of lifestyle improvements I made, such as eating less and more healthily. I now drink small amounts infrequently, and save drinking more for special occasions.

Of course if it becomes obvious that alcohol does cause AF then you probably should start coming to terms with the idea of cutting it out completely.

Samazeuilh profile image
Samazeuilh in reply to UScore

Yes, I agree with what you have said here. I intend to restrict my drinking to 14 units maximum per week with no more than 2 drinks at a sitting. According to government guidelines nobody is supposed to drink more than this anyway. I am not sure what US government guidelines are, but I think the recommended weekly alcohol limit is higher. I haven’t had an episode of Afib whilst drinking, however, occasionally, the heart “skips”’or has a delayed beat.

For some years now i have stayed "dry" on a school day then few beers and wine at the weekend. Works for me but to quote a favourite phrase "we're all different". Good luck with your choice.

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