Alcohol and AF: I heard that alcohol is a... - AF Association

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Alcohol and AF


I heard that alcohol is a complete no no,and is a trigger for AF episodes.I had a cryo ablation last Friday and Have not had any alcohol since However with Christmas and new year looming is it advisable to indulge ,or am I doomed to be on the wagon for ever,I am a 75 year old Male.I am just wondering what are your experiences,regardingt this? Thanks,Oscal

70 Replies

It's a trigger for some people.

I have reduced my consumption to almost zero, I will have the odd pint or G+T on a night out or a celebration, but never more than two.

I'm not willing to put all the good work that the EP did at risk just for a drink.

If you must drink, then stay well clear of cider and white wine, they have very high sulphite levels which is a known trigger.

Bubbles are also a known trigger, so prosecco and champagne are a no no.

Chinese food is a big no for me too, due to the MSG

in reply to Mikee69

Thanks for your input.Unfortunately for me cider is a favourite of mine.As I said I have had an ablation a week ago .Within 24 hours I had an AF episode and had to use my PIP, flecinide.Have had 2 further episodes,but each reverted to NSM fairly soon .I am told that this can be par for the course for 8-12 weeks.Staying positive,but realistically am aware that success is by no means a given.

in reply to Oscal

I know that it's tough, especially this time of year but I'd not be drinking any alcohol so soon.

Cider was my preferred tipple too, way before it was cool!

I miss a nice cold can on the beach after a few hours surfing, especially as all my friends love a cider, but it's a small price to pay.

Friels used to be sulphite free, but that isn't the case now. Oh well 😭

in reply to Oscal

Have you read our fact sheet on recovery so you know what to expect.?


Why risk all the hard work of your EP for something you really don't need. Think how stupid you would feel if it did trigger AF and remember it will be three to six months before you are fully healed. About a year after one of my ablations I tried some of the wine from the vinyard we have shares in and it did not at that time affect me . It has since so I refrain now. Only problem is being the sensible one whilst all around are behaving really badly and always being designated driver!

Doomed! You would rather imbibe than be free of Afib! That’s a new one. Personally I have a healthy fear of Afib and want to stay as far away from it as I can. You, on the other hand, would rather risk the entire ablation for a glass of your favorite potion. I don’t get that understanding. Happy New Year 2020, in whatever form it comes.,.

I understood that it wasn’t a statement but a question from Oscal. I kept clear of alcohol for about three months and then tried to only have one every now and then. I have been ok.

Was it a statement or a question? Here's the deal, he had the cryoablation last Friday! A week ago from my reply. A week. He's already inquiring if he can drink alcohol over the Holidays. How long does it take to work through a cryoablation? Better yet, any idea what one's heart looks like, feels like after a cryoablation? Alcohol for me is a gigantic no-no. Did he ever have adverse effects from drinking alcohol prior to his ablation? I have no idea but there is a greater degree of relapse, even for a few hours, drinking alcohol. How much stress is appropriate for a recently ablated heart? Why subject that healing condition to a risky maneuver? He said that he has not had alcohol since the ablation. I'd say I hope he can abstain for awhile...

I was told not to have alcohol ..I had a list to take out of hospital of dos and don’t s. He might not have had that `I suppose. I certainly abstained for about six months and then only had a small glass occasionally after that. I can’t touch white wine as it gave me AF before my ablation. I agree it isn’t worth risking anything. It seemed to me that he just wanted advice and was really unsure of the “rules”

Plenty of rules, you know. You can be an utter novice and one knows, after an ablation, there are rules. It would be good for "Oscal" to speak up, and yet he hasn't. You, like me, on the other hand, are quite responsive!

I'm 8 months post ablation and alcohol was a trigger for me, hence why I gave it up 4 years or so ago everytime afib kicked in ending in A@E.

Last few weeks I've tried a beer and was fine, just "a beer", like Mikey says wine or champs, bubbles is a big no no in my opinion. Why you would even remotely risk affecting the outcome of such an important operation, just for the sake of a drink at your point of recovery isn't something I would even consider or can understand, to me it's like putting your hand in the lions mouth just to check if it still bites.

Good luck with your recovery whatever you choose.

in reply to Ianp66

Beer is a definate no for me and I miss it but champagne and bubbles - no problem - so individual.

in reply to CDreamer

Meant a lager CD as I can't drink man's beer, really used to love a glass of wine or two but triggered me pre op, especially a prosecco or fizz, might try just one glass at new year with some water, get me! Party animal 😉😂

It used to be a trigger for me - one sip and straight into AF but now it’s not. Has no rhyme nor reason.

Binge drinking is a known cause of AF but a small glass of wine is normally acceptable - but stick to just the one, very small glass and drink plenty of water as well as. I tend to drink white wine so I always top up with sparkling water - glass looks fuller, I don’t look like a kill joy, alcohol is diluted and I don’t suffer. Win, win.

It’s very personal although regular drinking will cause scarring on the heart and over time increase the risk of AF.

My EP is very anti alcohol plus a couple of my med bottles say do not drink

There are a few things to take into consideration before you ban alcohol completely. First and foremost! Numerous foods/drinks along with life in general will kick it off. Also take in the it affected me yesterday - it did not today situation. In many respects I often feel that we are looking at the [wrong] root cause!

For my sins I intend to live as normal a life as possible (within moderation) . Every Friday my wife and I meet up with friends in our local pub, during that time (3 hrs) I drink 4 pints of moderate strength beer. 1) I sip as opposed to taking big gulps, it alters the temperature upwards if it too cold 2) Prior to this I will have eaten 3 hours before my first pint, this tends to avoid drink & food swelling/bulking up in my stomach. 3) Avoid strong beers and those that have lots of gas/bubbles ie lager. 4) Remember you are imbibing legal drinks with drug qualities - drugs will affect you, so can (strong) cold alcohol/bubbles/gas etc. 5) If you drink loads/binge then bulk alone can kick it off as we are overloading our system.

My 4 pints last night ie "John Smiths" was as ever cold, though neutralised through sipping, when I do all of the aforementioned I have no problem 80% of the time. However! If it is something that affects you [all] of the time - don't do it, as many of us have differing triggers.

in reply to john6

Hi, I had a liver transplant 7 years ago and have been alcohol free for 9 years... My transplant was nothing to do with alcohol abuse, it was to do with my bile ducts being inflamed that stopped the bile coming from my liver to my stomach...

Anyway since my transplant i developed AF and found out that one of the top chambers have become enlarged with my cardiologist surjesting that i just go on medication and said i'll see you in 12 months...the only thing i can think by not recommending any procedures is that he has written me off because I'm 74 and to me the worst scenario would be a heart transplant....The AF dosent bother me that much except sometimes i try to sleep on my left side (i can feel the beets missing and then speeding up).

The main problem i have is a shortness of breath when walking short distances and lifting anything a little heavy so much so i have purchased a mobility scooter to use if i go shopping with the wife or if i go out and i can forsee a distance in walking...

With Alcohol i plan to have a Irish Coffee on christmas day and a small glass of port on boxing day and that's it...

I meet up with my mates every Friday night in our local pub and drink alcohol free beer or Lager. I totally enjoy my time with my mates I've known since junior school and towards the end of the night im a bit sharper than them with our banter... Happy Christmas to all....

I was chatting to a cardiologist last weekend and he said there’s recent research out of Melbourne saying if you have AF you should have no more than 2 standard drinks per week. I occasionally have a small glass of red wine when we are out to dinner without a drama and when I say small, I mean about an inch of wine🍷.

After my 3rd ablation I gave up alcohol thinking it would help me heal but 6 months later back it came and so I resumed a nightly glass of red wine, it's not a trigger for me so its different for everyone trial and error I'd say

I drink in moderation, had an ablation in 2015, still have occasional AF, maybe 3-4 times this year, but for me a bigger trigger is too much caffeine

Sadly its a major trigger for me, I only need 1 mouthful and as soon as it hits the bloodstream, I am in AF. You only had your ablation last week and your heart is still healing from the burns and trying to make scar tissue. It took me a full 6 months to stop having bouts of AF and flutter after the ablation so please just rest and be patient.

Seems everyone is different and I rarely drink anything but if at a holiday party I drink Prosecco with a lot of Ice usually just the one glass and it is have to be careful with alcohol as it seems to depend on various factors what can trigger

It is not a trigger for everyone. You have to know your own body.

I enjoy a glass or two of cider and it has no effect on my Af.

I find the more expensive, trendier ciders are the best.

My worst trigger is coffee, I only need to smell it. So I don't drink it now. I used to love a strong black!

We all have our sacrifices, so what I'm saying is alcohol only needs avoiding as does anything else if it is a trigger. Everyone is different, so it's your choice whether you take the risk or not.

Happy Christmas everyone x

This link is interesting. Here is one statement:

"While moderate amounts of alcohol appear protective for the 'plumbing' or blood supply to the heart muscle, the benefits of alcohol do not extend to the electrical parts of the heart or heartbeat. People who continue to consume alcohol at moderate rates may also notice their irregular heartbeats become more frequent. This is concerning, because it can lead to serious issues, such as heart failure and stroke." Professor Peter Kistler

Another section: Some patients who have a fast or arrhythmical heart rate that has not responded to medicine may undergo catheter ablation - a procedure where parts of the heart are selectively cauterized. The study also revealed that people who continue to drink after they have had catheter ablation are more likely to continue to have irregular heartbeat even after the procedure.

My cardiologist said alcohol opens pathways in the heart for a-fib. Less alcohol is good . None is best.

Sadly its mostly "Fake Beer" for me.

in reply to jwsonoma

Fake Beer....I have stopped drinking completely for the last three weeks. I was barely a “moderate drinker” but thought even if it increases the risk of AFib / interaction with the Flecainide is it worth it? Of course not. That said there are so many great “fake beers” now a) Brewdog do Nanny State and Punk AF b) Adnams do Ghost Ship AF and in my view the best of all Sole Star that is .9% and is an excellent beer c) Swedish = Pistonhead Flat Tyre d) Spanish = Cruz Campo Sin and on Friday night I was drinking Budweiser Prohibition. Drinkable! It can be ✅done.

in reply to Slim2018

We don't have that many N/A choices in Sonoma CA. Erdinger, St Paulis, Heinekin, Clausthauler and Becks.

I bought a bottle of Kalsec Hop Citrals and a bottle of Lacto Delicious which are craft brew flavour additives. I use an eye dropper and it adds a little extra.

Lagunitas Brewery was offering a hop flavoured sparkling water this past summer.

in reply to jwsonoma

Astonishing- I thought CA would be a million miles ahead of us. In Spain and Germany when I am on my Harley on tour most bars now have two identical draught pumps one regular one AF. I struggle to tell the difference, but none can yet beat the Adnams Sole Star brewed in Suffolk. The reason is all the others are regular brews then turned AF by osmosis. The Sole Star is a regular beer brewed in the normal way but designed to only yield .9% which is why it cannot be called AF but low-alcohol. Sounds like there could be a gap in the market in CA.

in reply to Slim2018

The low/no alcohol drinks have caused my Afib to kick off, the same with lemonade, maybe it is the sugar or even the gas, who knows?

I drink all the time. That’s the whole reason my surgeon and I did my ablation! Of course I let it heal for 3 months before I started drinking like I used to. But I know a buddy that had a few beers a week after his ablation and it didn’t bother him a bit! Good luck

Alcohol is a strange thing, I gave it up years ago before I was diagnosed with AF, simply because I really did not like it and drinking it was social and a habit. I switched to lovely fresh cold water (not the bottled stuff,) but tap water, which although potable,I boil first, just in case and put it in a container and keep it in the fridge. Now, if anyone offers me a drink I always select water at the risk of sounding like a nutcase, but I love the smooth coolness of it.

Hi I have not had an ablation and have paf that is quite well controlled by flecamide so this may be useless info . Food is a big part of life for me and with it I drink in moderation too up to three glasses of wine with a meal. but have three days a week alcohol free . I love food and cooking and without wine many dishes just aren’t as good for me

One trigger for me in the past was heavy drinking which I have stopped forever However another was/ is stress and anxiety and sad to say the alcohol helps reduce that

I suppose having not had afib now for nearly 8 months I have forgotten the bleak despair it caused me and if it returns then despite gastronomy low / no alcohol would be on the agenda

Finally personal with alcohol I find no wine easier than a taste

I had an ablation last year in May and it took quite a long time for everything to settle down. I certainly didn’t feel like any alcohol soon after the ablation.

Unfortunately I got diagnosed with breast cancer in October last year. I had chemo Xmas Eve and stopped any alcohol then. Not only does chemo affect your liver it also affects your heart and I was having loads of AF. Plus of course you feel bloody awful!

Keep a diary to determine whether it is a trigger for you. If it is then you’ll need to stop completely. I find that about 8 units per week (4 drinks) with a maximum of two per day is ok. Bear in mind that nobody is supposed to drink more than 14 units per week (about 7 small drinks). Drinking is basically an oldies thing. I read somewhere that around a third of young people don’t drink at all. Last week I went for a drink with mostly younger colleagues in their thirties after work- most of them drank either mineral water or just had a single drink.

I think there is an important social element to drinking alcohol, which unfortunately others, even those well meaning, can make worse. I’ve lost count of the times friends of mine have commented on me not drinking anymore, and somehow equating this with losing one of the joys of life. If I’m not drinking I must be miserable! I severed that link forever about 5 years ago, after a lifetime as a moderate drinker, and at first it did feel a bit like entering a monastery! But, over time, I made it a virtue. It has certainly helped keep my weight down. I never wake up anymore feeling like a badger has been sleeping in my mouth, and now I really don’t miss it at all. Having my health ( or most of it) is the key for me, and I try not to put anything in its way. I can still associate many happy times with drinking but, like my hairline and my youthful good looks, they are now a pleasant but increasingly distant memory and there are many other things to cherish in my life.

I find alcohol can trigger ectopic, not always but usually if I have had more than a few. I don't drink much these days at all. I have had two ablation for vt not af. I still have ectopic beats after the ablation. Hope you enjoy Christmas

There are great alcohol free beers and wines available nowadays. Being without alcohol for four years has been no problem as I fear AF more than I like wine.

I haven't found any decent non alcoholic wines?

in reply to grahamabel

I agree..see my post earlier. Now if only I could have the same approach to big portions of food!!!!

My Afib didn’t seem to have any identifiable triggers. I reckon you need to listen to your body and balance that with the fact that you only live once. I’m certainly not going to spend my life denying myself the things I enjoy. In moderation of course.

So soon after I dont think I would touch a drop for at least for a few months, I still drink but probably only about a third of what I used to and I was never a big drinker to start with !

I think all the answers below show we all react differently. I had ablation almost a year ago. Cardio said white wine was very bad. I started off having the alcohol free Heineken which is just like real thing and if you’re out it looks like you’re joining in....... Then I tried a real lager and I was fine. I find if we go for meal I can gave two glasses of red wine......I do drink lots of water too if I drink wine. But also wine varies a hell of a lot with percentage......And that makes a big difference.i only drink the 12 or 12.5

So we are all diferent. I guess you will only know if you try but as you are just a week after ablation you ate in such early days. It takes ages for the dear ol heart to heal is the key in early days and listen to your body if you feel tired rest!


Okay. In my case it isn't a trigger.

But, after my AF diagnosis a year ago, I decided to clean up my act all round. I don't smoke, not overweight so that only left alcohol and even tho' not a heavy drinker, I took that as the primary 'vice'.

I cut down to the NHS maximum of 14 units per week and now that seems a lot (but not compared to the 30 or forty that is apparently the norm!)

I don't miss it at all and can easily be with others who need alcohol as an accessory to having a good time: just have to remind people occasionally not to push it at me.

Can't see me stopping completely, but the knowledge that I'm in control is very rewarding!

I won't say try alcohol over Xmas, just that it will be hard to say no with the others indulging, but I will definitely say that once over the shock, you'll not regret it!

Good luck!

You have to ask yourself “Do I want to risk undoing all the good work of the EP”

I used to really enjoy a glass of real ale, a gin and tonic, a glass of red wine or a good malt whisky. Not all on the same evening I would emphasise!!😜

I now have not touched a drop of alcohol since before my last ablation 2 1/2 years ago and now I really enjoy being relatively AF free. 😇.

I give most of the credit to my EP but felt very strongly that I had to help him even though for me alcohol was never a significant trigger.

For many alcohol is a significant trigger.

The choice is yours.


If I were you I'd give it a miss since you are only a week after what is after all an invasive proceedure on your heart.

It's difficult to generalise as we all seem to vary in our AF my mum and grandma both had AF. And never or very rarely drank alcohol. I find it can ,rarely ,affect me...but coffee always does even so called decaffeinated( still has some)

As does eating late....

Early days yet for you really!

Drinking is an emotive term and depends on one’s understanding of how much . Two pints would always bring on AF for me as would more than 2 small glasses of wine . Since my ablation I never exceed 1 pint or a large glass of wine as I don’t wish to bring AF on. I am happy with this and it enables me to socialise without giving the impression of being a bit of a party pooper.

However you are just out after ablation and will have a recurrence of your AF for what could be months before it settles down/ repairs. Exacerbating the potential for AF during the recovery stage , in my opinion is counterproductive, why take the risk!?

Alcohol was never a trigger for me so once everything had settled after my ablation I went back to living my normal life - which was the reason for the ablation. I believe one of the main things that can start AF is dehydration and alcohol does dehydrate you so it might be with you make sure for every drink you have you follow it with a large glass of water. As well as keeping you hydrated it will slow you down on your alcohol consumption. Having said all that it is only two weeks post ablation and I can’t remember feeling like alcohol at that stage. If you’re feeling any ‘bumps’ I’d avoid.

Hi Oscar. My husband is your age. A tad too much champagne triggered his first episode. He has gradually since then (15 years ago) not touched a drop. I firmly believe it is a trigger. So the more triggers you can avoid the better. He had an ablation in 2017 .

Hi! My first AF was when I had a few glasses of red wine. I don’t recommend “A Few!” You’ll have to see how your body responds. I now put ice and club soda in a glass of white wine. I’m still festive and included but feel better all the way around when I do this. Good luck!

Did alcohol cause trouble with your Afib before the ablation?

You have to take it easy with the booze. I sip 2 pints max of 5% (max) beer...and very slowly..make it last 2 hours... This week I had 2 glasses of port and for two days....and "got away with it"... A few months ago I had 2 pints of strong 7% IPA and I got an event... So drink very slowly and no crazy firewater !

Other research shows that drinking up to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men has a negligible effect on AF:

For some alcohol is a trigger, but for others (the majority?) there are other factors. If you really want to keep AF away after an ablation, you need to find out what caused the inflammation that underlies AF. There are many more factors than excessive drinking. These include being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, too much exercise, poor diet, high blood pressure and diabetes . These factors have a much greater effect on AF prevention than alcohol in moderation.

I've had permanent afib since I was 35 (now 56) and have gone through long stages where I'd drink 8-10 per sitting (not recommended), stages where I'd drink 3-5 nightly and currently drink 1-2 per week. Personally, I've never noticed a difference in the amount and frequency of my afib. I have been focusing on health, nutrition and losing weight (down from 263 to 214 pounds in 9 months with intermittent fasting) - general overall health does effect my afib. I'm also now convinced that insulin and pre-diabetes in us fatties plays a major role.

I am in permanent AF so a drink or two now and then no problem.

I had ablation and PVI 3 years ago and I was told that due to persistent AF it may not be successful. However I am now 3 years down the line ! I have a glass of sulphite free red wine with my meal each night and the odd whisky . I am careful with my diet and know my triggers . My biggest trigger is stress as a senior nursing manager !

I am a 75 year old female and after I was diagnosed with paroxysmal AF 15 months ago I was told to cut down on my alcohol intake and also cut down on tea and coffee both of which I've hardly had for years as I prefer herbal teas. As I just used to have a small glass of wine with dinner, I just stopped drinking all together which has been fine- my daughter doesn't drink alcohol by choice! Today, we went to a local pub where we sing the old carols in parts and I did have a few sips of my husband's cider but have found that mulled apple juice was very enjoyable instead of mulled wine at a solstice gathering. Of course, we are all different but please don't drink alcohol if you have been advised not to- it is not obligitary and you can enjoy the festivities without it! Good luck whatever you decide and best wishes for the new year!

You've taken the risk of an ablation- surely you won't risk spoiling it by alcohol?

I’ll share my father’s saga. His AF was well controlled on medication until the manufacture decided to stop making it. He was living in France at the time & underwent a cardiac ablation there. I don’t know when but he could not resist the French spirits. Before long he developed memory issues likely due to a small embolism of some sort. His employer then retired him two months shy of turning 80.

My father’s memory issues decreased the overall quality of his retirement. He was put on & remained on Coumadin until age 90. He had become too great a fall risk to continue on it. He lived to age 91.

I doubt my father would have required a anticoagulant had he stopped drinking. He may have been able to retire on his own terms too. His wife left him after he lost his job. She was very angry she had to return to the states. That did just wonders for his drinking. It seemed drinking magnified his problems as he grew older.

I have a light g & t each and every evening before dinner ... l no longer drink wine ... that’s it ... after the one, no more. I measure it . I take a ton of supplements along with my dinner ... rarely do l have afib ... and have never had an ablation or cardio version... additionally, we dine very early ... 5 o’clock each day. I have done this since my first episode four years ago ... we have a friend who is in permanent afib ... he drinks like a fish ...!

Hi oscal.your right alcohol is a big factor to starting the dreaded AF off on its bumpy ride.well it ìs for me anyway . I found personnally if I drink in moderation at these times of year of celebration I'm ok if I limit myself to 2 or 3 max.but that's me personally.You just need to find what your capabilities are .but start from the bottom (not of the bottle lol ) the amount .or to be safe alcohol free to keep your mind at ease . Good luck and try not to let it take over your life.

Cheers merry Xmas


So soon after your ablation I would probably be avoiding the booze if possible

However I don’t believe that a complete ban on booze is necessary long term.

I’ve had an ablation and still enjoy a night out drinking with friends.

Caffeine is the thing that I try to avoid or at least keep to a minimum

I take magnesium taurate regularly and ensure I stay hydrated using rehydration tablets after exercise

Thanks for all the information and good wishes and yes mouschkin,it was a question rather than a statemen.I have read so many different regarding post ablation .Like people not touching a drop for years,only for Af to return ,plus many other triggers ,coffee,etc.One or two posts seemed a tad judgemental,but overall most helpfull.I have had to adjust my lifestyle big time since I first had Af years ago.It gradually got worse hence the ablation.I live alone,and my 3 visits weekly to my local are highlight of the week,I meet matesI have known for years, I will take things very slowly,and deffo will not be drinking yet ,but for me,quality of life is very important,moderation seems to be the answer.

I have had no treatment other than Bisoprolol 2.5mg per day. Nearly two and a half years ago i got it that alcohol was a trigger. I haven't touched a drop for 2 years 5 months. I too miss the freedom to have a tipple and join in. However, I have learned to do without. And I now prefer to live without. I took a while but I'm beter for it. I still get AF and think I'll be heading for an abalation at some point. But if so, not drinking afterwards won't be a problem for me. And it shouldn't be for you. Go without.


I am a 52 YO male. I have had two ablations that worked for about 6 months each. Recently, I went a year with a-fib and a heart rate in the 120's. I am now on 5mg of bisoprolol 1x day. I tried the moderate drinking thing, but it seemed to always end up with me back in a-fib and a racing heart. I'm going for 1 year on the wagon adn see if I can't retrain my hear to stay in NSR, and what happens with a drink. For me, I have four reasons to quit drinking, I call them my four C's: Cost, Calories, Character and Cardio. I'm probably sharing a bit too much, but havign more than one reason seemed to help keep me on the wagon. Good luck, and happy holidays.

in reply to RHSJ

Thanks for taking the trouble to reply,you talk a lot of sense.This must have been disappointing for you but it ties in with other similar experiences I have heard about.Its quite random as regards results from abstaining,obviously one has to to give all options a trial.You are much younger than me,and I would do exactly as you were I in your shoes,However,Im at the time in my life where the clock is ticking (rather loudly!) and a year waiting to see if something works(,That might not!) requires some consideration.Good luck to you,

Since I had a ICD pace maker fitted back in 2015 I have led a virtually normal life and doing things in moderation I am still here at 82.

in reply to Brianboru

Thank you,that is re-assuring to know,should that option be suggested to me.,wishing you a happy,healthy new year

I can even enjoy a cider Aspall, or even Strongbow after walking with my hiking group !

Not suprised to hear that,after all,Brian Boru was one hard man!(1014 an all that)Lol!

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