Alcohol and AFib: Hi I'm new to this... - AF Association

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Alcohol and AFib

BobL123 profile image

Hi I'm new to this community. I was diagnosed with A-fib two years ago and tried to correct with diet and exercise without much success although lots of medicines. The latest addition was an anti-arrhythmic Medicine, which I had to spend three days in the hospital to even begin taking. It did not take me out of afib but after the third day was given another electrocardioversion. It took and I stayed out of afib for nearly 3 weeks. I thought I was doing so good I went out and had some beer (10 or so) with my buddies. The next day I was back into AFib. So back to abstaining from alcohol and two weeks later I came out of AFib.

Does this mean I can never drink alcohol? Perhaps if I moderate down to one or two? I had another buddy tell me that he could drink one type of beer but not another? Yet another told me I could drink some liquor instead of beer and be okay. I know alcohol is a irritant to the heart but I do like to have an occasional drink. Any thoughts?

14 Replies

Some will say you should never/not drink alcohol. I am sure that advice applies to many, fortunately not all. A lot will depend on what type of Afib that you have. Although I have not been told officially what mine is, I think that I would say mine is Vagal. In my case much of my Afib is brought on by food/drink.

If yours is Vagal then numerous foods/drinks will cause it, alcohol being one of them. However, one thing that seems to get overlooked is the volume that one is consuming. In my case (it's the only illustration that I have), apart from the odd singular beer during the week I go out on a Friday night and consume 3 to 4 pints of ordinary strength beer over 2.5 hours, sipping NOT whooshing..........on a near empty stomach (food) + standing whilst I drink (allows the liquid to drop down, as opposed to gathering in the gut). You may think that it is a lot of flaffing around, however 7/8 times out of 10 I do not get much of a reaction, sometimes nothing at all.

You sound like a guy who likes his beer, so you will have to experiment unless your medic says otherwise.

P.S. Important on the sipping bit, as COLD liquid will/can set it off on its own. You WILL more than likely have to cut down on the volume, in fact, most definitely.

BobL123 profile image
BobL123 in reply to john6

Thanks for your input. I am off to see the doctor next week and will discuss the option of moderation. I realize binge drinking is not good. However, would like to enjoy, like you a couple pints with friends.

BobD profile image

It is really your choice. If you want to be sure if alcohol is a trigger then carry on drinking and see what happens. 10 beers would put most normal people under the table so maybe consider what may be best for yourself. There is ample evidence that binge drinking such as this can cause AF but less that a single unit is responsible. On the other hand many people give up alcohol completely and still have AF.

BobL123 profile image
BobL123 in reply to BobD

Thanks Bob... before afib I was a heavy drinker. First several beers followed with hard liquor. My hope was that laying off the hard stuff would resolve the irritation. Hope doctor okays me to enjoy a few pints of beer. I'm just trying to find my way...

Why not put the alcohol on hold for a ‘period’ (reasonable amount of time to allow sensible comparison) and see if you experience any Afib. If no Afib during the non-drinking then try a few drinks and see if anything changes. I drank quite heavily without any Afib but still dont know for certain if it is a trigger with me.

I was drinking fairly heavily in 2016 and cut down severely when diagnosed with AF. I was teetotal between April and December 2017, between my first ablation and being told I was pretty much back to normal. I missed Real Ale, red wine and Island malts.

I had several runs of arrhythmia and a few ectopics during my dry period, but this had pretty much cleared up by December. I never went back to anywhere near my previous levels of drinking and don't miss it, but I do have a couple of glasses at a weekend and sometimes a few more on a special occasion. It has normally caused no issues, even my cardiologist says not to worry as long as I don't binge drink. The one exception was new years eve at a party . I paced myself well, alternating between wine and water, tea etc. But the party lasted several hours longer than expected, and eventually I ended up having more than the whole bottle. I was dehydrated in the morning and the Kardia regsistered "possible AF".

I have not done this since; an AF-free life is worth being almost consistently sober for.

G'day BobL,

Well you got several choices, keep calm and carry on ( and end up in a very deep mess), cut back, research different types of beer and get a measure of the impact of different types on AF, and still cut back. You need to read labels on bottles, bit harder with draught beer, if you drink anything with gluten, wheat, barley etc then I'd try looking for something else and bear in mind you have no idea what farmers have sprayed on their crops which end up in the food and drink chain. And just to keep you really amused see if there is any sort of food which disagrees with you.

Not much else to say except boozing on with the amounts you quote your heart must really enjoy AF, not forgetting other organs too. :-) :-)

Hi. Alcohol has been an annoying issue for me too. I like wine and a few drinks with friends is very enjoyable. I have had AF for three or four years. Earlier I could drink four or five glasses of wine with no effects but in the last eighteen months it can give me missed beats and funny heart sensations. So now I have up to half a bottle of red with lots of water and drink it slowly over three hours. Usually no problems but if I over think it, funny beats might occur. Anxiety doesn't help this. I don't want to give up entirely as an evening on sparkling water isn't the same. I have three male friends with AF and none of them have any problems with alcohol. All the best.

Hi Bob, I gave up alcohol completely over four years ago but I still had afib! Drinking cold drinks sets mine off too. I have lots of triggers, tried lots of meds but eventually had an ablation five weeks ago, feel much better now. Good luck!

Hi Bob, I cannot drink anymore especially wine, even a glass, and I go into AF. Just not worth it.

We're all different, Bob, so you'll just need to find out what works for you. There's little point in discussing with your doctor in my opinion.

While I've never been a big drinker, I've had very little beer for over 10 years now due to my enlarged prostate. I do miss it and now only ever have one bottle or half a pint at a time. I started having a nightcap on an evening and now have quite a few bottles of whisky bought as presents. Unfortunately, I know that these do me no good so I'm getting through them very slowly. My main alcohol intake now is a glass of wine with a meal once or twice a week. I seem to be able to tolerate this. It's my only vice :(

I have been in sinus for 6 months now, after a cardioversion in April. I still drink beer (lager) and wine, both red and white, but in much lower quantities. I rarely have mnore than two pints.. and the most wine I will have in one go (i.e. over an hour or two, like at dinner) is half a bottle (or slightly more if you ask my wife :) ) I also love Prosecco and other bubblys and the same quantities apply. I have found that my tolerance has now gone way down and that I am more than happy stopping after these amounts... if I (rarely, but it occasionally happens) do go overboard and have a bit more, I a) feel crap the next day and b) can feel the effects on my heart rhythm with more ectopics and I spend a day with bated breath wondering if I've put myself back in afib.

As with the comments above.. this is my experience and it may not be the same for you.

I've said quite often I can always tell when I've had a drink as I seem to get that "impending sense of feeling full up" like I'm wandering along the edge of an AF cliff, and I may possibly drop off the edge and into an AF episode.

I think there was a post about this not long ago. I can count how many individual drinks I've had in the last 12 months (I had a couple at a wedding in June, a glass at Daughters 1st Birthday in July, a pint for OH birthday and my birthday in September and half a cider last Friday watching the Han Solo film on DVD, for those interested!)

It used to be a lot more, 2/3 pints on a Wednesday night pub quiz and a couple on a weekend. Now it's 2/3 every 6 months. I didn't drink anything from December 17 until June 18 partly because I was losing weight and partly because I had an ablation the week before Christmas.

However, that didn't seem to stop my AF episodes and I had 1 un-medicated and 2 medicated episodes at the start of this year.

Regardless, I still don't tend to touch alcohol much due to my first sentence - I feel different when I've had it and expect to flip out (though never have. However because I drink so rarely, it only takes the one pint and I'm merry!

It was a great September ;)

If you go abroad you will have to declare this condition as a pre existing condition and may pay an extra charge. If you are looking for an incentive to convince yourself to moderate your drinking have a look at the effects of a stroke. AFIB makes you 6 times more likely to have a stroke.

It's an old man's disease? 60% of strokes occur in the elderly - but would you wan't to be one of the other 40% if you can make a lifestyle change to avoid it?

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