Ablation? I feel useless and worried - AF Association

AF Association

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Ablation? I feel useless and worried


My dad suffers with afib. He has been drinking a bottle of wine every day after work for years now. Not blaming drink but from what I have read it certainly don't help? For about 6 months after being told he has af he continued to drink. Would consider him a functioning alcoholic. Whilst at work recently he suffered a TIA. Since then he has cut back on the drinking. Although a friend visited recently and they got drunk together. The next day he shouts for me to phone him an ambulance. We went to the hospital and was having an af attack if that's the right term? Was the first time I have seen it. I won't lie it absolutely terrified me and has me quite upset. He was due to have ablation done? That looks like it will be put on hold now because of the coronavirus. Just now he has come downstairs and said his heart isn't racing but his fingers feel tingly. Said he is going to lay down and try relax. Well I wish I could. I just feel so hopeless and terrified he will die or something. Honestly has me wanting to cry but know that won't change anything. I just want him to be okay. Can I ask will the ablation cure his af? Will he continue to be on medication his whole life? To be honest if he has to take some pills that's how it is. I just want to know more about this ablation and the outcomes even if it does look like it will be put back. He is currently on bisoprolol and apixaban. Hasn't had a drink since recent trip to the hospital. It just feels to me like this problem is getting worse over time and not better.

25 Replies

I am so sorry for you to have to endure all this when your father is not helping himself. However because of the tingling in his hands ( pins and needles?) I feel you ought to phone 111 for advice or if situation escalates....i am thinking stroke symptoms here.....then 999.

He is taking anticoagulant Apixaban so that is good.

In answer to your previous question, treatment for AF is only going to improve quality of Life as there is no actual cure. Ablation gives very many a greatly improved life though. Excessive drinking is one of the worst things to trigger the condition.

Please let us know how things go.



Smw91 in reply to Jalia

The pins and needles in the hands comes and goes. He felt more calm as he said apart from that his heart wasn't racing. I didn't want to question him more or go off on him about it. Only as I didn't want him to worry as he suffers panic attacks too. Tomorrow when he gets home from work I am going to suggest he calls our doctor? The tingling in his fingers isn't normal is it? He did mention it to the di for at the hospital. Think they said to increase the bisoprolol to 2.5mg. Thankfully he hasn't drank since then. For years though he has been which certainly hasn't helped. When he first got told he had AF he didn't drink for about two weeks. Then fell back into the habit. Then the TIA happened and he stopped drinking apart from half a bottle of wine on the weekends. It was his friend coming over and then both getting proper drunk. The TIA happened day after a heavy drinking session. This recent AF attack also happened the day after. There won't be no drinking in this house no more. Also glad pubs are shut as I know he can't be hiding it then. He isn't legless every night or anything but used to put away a bottle of wine after work every day. Health wise apart from the AF he is fine. He doesn't drive so has always cycled and isn't over weight at all. Diet wise he eats meat but yeah isn't eating take aways every night or anything.

Honestly it just really scares me to think he could die. Apart from this AF like I say he looks perfectly healthy. Can foods known to be good for the heart help with AF? I suppose it can't do any harm but is there evidence of it helping? He won't go vegan although he does eat vegan meals. Just thinking I can encourage him by cooking some meals up for him to take to work.

After the ablation and no drink. Is there a good chance it could be cured? Well at least not have to worry about anymore AF attacks. Would he still need medication after the surgery? I know everyone is different but has there been cases of that?

Sorry for all the questions. Feels good to just talk about it I guess. Don't really feel like opening up to anyone in person. In case they mention how worried I am to my dad and I don't want him feeling bad. It's got to the stage where I sleep with my bedroom door open. Just in case something happens so I have a better chance of hearing him shout out. Or if I haven't heard the door go in the morning with him leaving for work. I go upstairs and is a moment where I think to myself I hope nothing has happened. That was just after the TIA and before I had actually seen what the AF does. Now like I say I just feel useless and like all I can do is just sit here and wait for something to go wrong. Just want him to be okay and this whole thing to not cause any worry.

Thank you for all the replies

Jalia in reply to Smw91

I was going to say the same as Flapjack...how lucky your Dad is to have such a caring daughter ( I'm presuming you are daughter..) and it would do him good to see the replies you have made here.

As far as medication goes, most are on medication of some sort for life, even if it is just the anticoagulant Apixaban which is vital to help prevent stroke. It all becomes routine in the end.

I endorse what BobD has advised.....read up all you can on AF from the literature on this site. You will feel more confident when you are well informed and maybe not worry so much.

Sending all good wishes to you and do let us know how it all progresses.

J x

Marytew in reply to Smw91

Hi SMW91

The tingling in your father’s hands is unlikely to be linked with a stroke as this is not one of the regular symptoms associated with having a stroke. However, it could be due to neuropathy associated with the amount of alcohol your father has been drinking on a daily basis. The following is a description:

‘Constant pain in the hands or feet is one of the most bothersome aspects of alcoholic neuropathy. The pain can feel like burning, throbbing or sharp pins and needles. As the condition progresses, the pain may vary in intensity, sometimes diminishing for months at a time before worsening again’.

Taken from:

verywellmind.com › understanding-alcoholic-neuropathy-4142252

Gillybean123 in reply to Jalia

Hi Jalia, I was diagnosed with AF in 2012. Now my husband and myself in those days were drinkers. I didn’t consider myself Alcoholic but I drank too much. Mainly red wine but did love a g & t, first attack I had I didn’t know what it was. Was embarrassed about going to doctors because I had got a hangover, anyway had an ablation in 2013 was fine for 12 months then lost my lovely hubby and for the next 12 months we’ll can’t remember it was a blur not through drink but grieving. Then on and off tablets booked for another Ablation then in 2017 I was in hospital twice in one month. Something hit me I thought you have got to get a grip. So I stopped drinking overnight. I haven’t had a drink since. My specialist said last week that my ecg was amazing they have reduced my tablets and I feel pretty good.

Anyway, Your Dad Bless him, he will stop when he wants to. He may have decided this himself. When they get his tablets sorted which could take quite a while you will find it will probably settle down. He will be on them the rest of his life. Some people manage to stop. How are his fingers now? I have had this. How old are you Jalia? It scares my daughter as well. But you need to research AF read what people say on this site, then you will understand it more. They always say it’s not the AF that’s the problem but the Company it keeps. Is it just you and your Dad? Sorry for rambling on but it is all new to you. You take care of yourself and look after your lovely Dad. Xxx

Jalia in reply to Gillybean123

Hi Gillybean123 , your lovely reply should have been directed at Smw91 . I was just responding to her post. I'm sure she will find your response very comforting.

Gillybean123 in reply to Jalia

So sorry silly me, you take care. X


To be honest the best thing he can do is change his life style. Alcohol is really bad for AF( and if often a cause) so never drinking again will for sure help . A change of diet also reducing meat and processed food and more plant based food has been shown to greatly reduce AF burden as has getting to a BMI of 25 of lower.

Ablation can be successful if patients are prepared to work at life style and understand that it is not a cure but a way of reducing symptoms (which the above life style changes can also do) Ablation is not something that works at once either and can take three to six months at least to take effect so if he is lucky enough to have the procedure make sure he understand that. There are plenty of fact sheets on all aspects of AF available from our main AF Association website so read up as knowledge is power.

I can understand how the situation with your dad is making you feel anxious, but keep in mind that AF is rarely the cause of death. He's taking the anticoagulant Apixaban, so that will also help to prevent a stroke.

I'm afraid that the sulphite in wine is a known trigger for AF, so should certainly be avoided. I feel it may help your dad's symptoms if you can warn him of this.

As Bob has already said, a change to a more healthy natural and additive free diet has helped many of us, me included.

We are all here to give support in any way we can. So feel free to ask any other questions you may have.


Smw91 in reply to jeanjeannie50

Thanks, honestly do appreciate it. Just reading that about the stroke has made me feel a little easier. I don't suffer with AF or any health issues yet, still young lol . I am though luckily for my dad really into having a healthy diet. I'm not vegan but eat very little meat. Once this coronavirus is over and it's easier to shop. I will probably be making the full switch. I honestly do read a lot into diets and so not the type who just thinks its vegan so it must be healthy.

I have been encouraging him to make sure he has a breakfast before work and nothing like coco pops. Just good old fashioned oats. Fish once a week too, usually salmon. Have bought decafe coffee as well although he was never a big coffee drinker. The alcohol is done, he had quit it before until the mate showed up. There are still 3 Guinness on the kitchen side from the night. I am tempted to bin them but then I know he will say he is allowed a drink now and then just not every day and not abusing it. To me, I would not even think like that but I know him. Thing is I can't go through that again. I know it's not his fault but it really shook me up. I know our parents get old but mine still is young in every way. Your dad's like your superman ain't he. To see him proper panicking at the hospital and feeling so useless. It's heart breaking and just don't wanna see that ever again.

When I cook my meals I'm going to do extra for him. He can at least take it to work for lunch. Healthier food with plenty of stuff known for heart health. No drinking. Other than that all we can do is sit and wait for the ablation I guess?

Do you know of anyone coming off their medication after that? Or do people get that and not have any after symptoms again? Of course whilst maintaining the better lifestyle choices.

Really is good of you for taking the time to reply. Can't thank you all enough

absolutepatsy in reply to Smw91

You are on the right track with eating plant based foods and cutting down on meat but can I just say, some people can have a small drink occasionally which doesn't appear to affect the AF but not everybody, alcohol, just one sip, is a trigger for my AF and sets it off within seconds. I quit alcohol 6 years ago as it is not worth the symptoms I get while in AF.

Try not to worry if he goes into AF again, its not going to kill him, its other ongoing problems that might cause difficulties.

If he is a functioning alcoholic, he needs to quit the alcohol all together as one drink leads to another as happened when his friend came round.

Read and find out as much as you can about AF and you will start to feel better and calmer.

Consultant Cardiologist Sanjay Gupta posts lots of videos on here and You-Tube re Afib, he is absolutely brilliant at explaining what is going on so I suggest you also tap into his videos which will help you understand what happens to your dad when he goes into AF.

This is a great forum with some very knowledgeable people who are more than happy to help where they can although non of us are medically trained we can offer experience. AF is not an age thing, you can get this condition in your 20's.

Patsy, I know little about alcoholism, but once someone has been an alcoholic they can never ever touch it again - not even one sip! A friends husband was one and she makes sure it's never in any cake or dessert that she buys. So it's not a good idea to recommend that one drink is ok to someone who has been drinking a bottle of wine daily for years .


Apologies, thats not what I was meaning, I meant some people in general, not alcoholics, can have a drink without it being a trigger for their AF. Your are quite right about alcoholism, you cannot ever chance taking a drink again or you risk relapse.

jeanjeannie50 in reply to Smw91

It's also important that you remain calm when he has an AF attack as anxiety in your dad will almost certainly feed the attack and make it worse. Lot's of us who have had AF, for many years now, don't even bother to go to hospital but just sit the attack out at home and perhaps take an extra pill. Any pain or heaviness around the heart area, neck or arm alongside feeling unwell, then it must be a 999 call for help.

If you're not sure how bad the situation is, then ring the NHS 111 number and they will advise and send an ambulance if needed, but remember it's important to be safe in a situation where there's an ache, or pain rather than sorry.

Link for you:



Auriculaire in reply to Smw91

If the pins and needles are neuropathy associated with drinking then taking a magnesium supplement might help. Alcohol diminishes magnesium and neuropathy can be a sign of a deficiency. Dr Gupta recommends magnesium taurate for afib sufferers as this can help with attacks anyway. But he really does need to stop drinking. Even without afib it's not doing any part of his body any good putting away a bottle of wine a day.

Cannot add to the good advice already given, but did want to say how lucky he is to have such a caring (I assume) daughter. Very many are able to reduce and/or come off AF medication after having an ablation but it can depend on issues such as blood pressure and all the suggestions relating to lifestyle changes would also help, if necessary, to get that within normal range.

If I was your Dad and I got the chance to read your question and the answers provided, 1st I’d be really proud of my daughter and secondly I would not want to let her down by not following the advice given.....just a thought 😉

Hope all works out well for your Dad, you sound like an Angel and he is very lucky to have such a caring heart look after his not so well one at this point, but for that can improve if he follows the advice giving above.

It’s very difficult dealing with a functioning alcoholic and very upsetting, have a brother who recently underwent brain surgery to remove 2 clots, was told if he continues to drink the next episode would be ‘catastrophic’. And still he drinks - even on the ward!

There is no reasoning that works - only the person can make the decision to change and take care of himself. I view these behaviours as self-harming. I love my brother and want the best for him but I won’t engage with him more than the superficial these days after years of all his family rallying around and getting him help.

Nothing has helped him and just caused his children and his wider family stress and upset.

I love my brother but I hate his behaviour and that is how I cope. Yes, he (my brother) will probably kill himself and yes so may your father - unless they both make the decision to live and that would mean changing their behaviours and avoid drinking for good.

I’m glad your father hasn’t had a drink since the hospital trip but trust how he behaves rather than what is said.


I can relate to your dads condition, as it was like me 3 years ago. His heart is irritated and will remain so (or get worst) unless he does something about it. I would also suggest he goes on youtube searches for "York cardiologist" and watches Dr Gupta's videos.

Now what to do about it:

Stop drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks and sugar (especially sweeteners), I was in denial about alcohol being a factor (or cause) for years - it is. Don't take anything with sulphates. If taking PPIs (omeprazol etc) reduce or stop them. Do not do anything too strenuous. Don't expect a quick fix, more like months or a year

Do drink at least 1.5 ltrs of water a day (no substitutes), take a magnesium supplement (not oxide), eat a banana a day, an avocado twice a week, make sure iron levels are high. Leave 12 to 16 hours between last meal of day and first the next day.

There are reasons for doing the above which I have not explained, please ask if you want to know.

CDreamer in reply to Shcldavies

Excellent advice.

You have already had some really good advice about his AFib and I can't really add to that. However, if your father is really serious about giving up drinking he could benefit from outside support; Alcoholics Anonymous has free helplines manned by recovering alcoholics who are aware of every pitfall and temptation that your Dad may encounter (such as drinking friends who may also have a problem).

As a young person you are shouldering a heavy burden far too early in life; your father may not ever realise that but he is truly blessed to have a child such as you. Be supportive but please don't put your own life on hold for him.

I'm not an alcoholic, but enjoyed a glass of red wine with dinner or a glass of best whisky at the weekend. Unfortunately I have learned, after three cardioversions, that alcohol ( even a tiny amount ) is a trigger for my AF. I don't drink any at all now, and my heart is regular as a metronome. I'm even reducing my medications slowly, and feeling much better for it.

Hi Smw91

I have had an ablation on 5th November last year. I would not hesitate to have another should I need it in the future, which is more than possible. I was badly affected by af and only a massive dose of flechanide stopped the af episodes. I am now only on riveroxaban as an anticoagulant and am 100% better. Af episodes can be very bad and it understandable that you are anxious. Hope all goes well when your Dad eventually has his ablation. All the best.

Regards Flyer.

Have a look at the 'Mediterranean diet'. It is rated as the best diet to follow and you can find plenty of advice on the BHF website, along with menus to try out. Does he like walking or other active ways of spending time that will help him maintain a certain level of fitness?

Thanks for all the replies. After he was told he had AF he stopped drinking for a while. Was like a false hope for me, thought he was gonna really knock it on the head. Then slipped back into his old ways. Easy to call him stupid for it, and he is don't get me wrong. It was that though that made me really see just how bad drink had a hold on him. Think it was easier for him to get away with it. Simply as he never misses a day off work and has a very highly respected job.

Anyway fast forward some months and he had a TIA. Couldn't move his arm but luckily was at work and was taken to hospital straight away. Now I know my dad and I know that scared him. What I noticed and pointed out to him. The af attack and the TIA, was both after heavy drinking sessions. Not just a bottle of wine like usual but 6 beers as well and possibly even some whisky. After the TIA he knocked it on the head but it didn't last. A friend visited and they both got really drunk. Next day he shouts for him to phone an ambulance and off to the hospital we go. Was my first time seeing him having one and at the hospital. Like I say it terrified me. Course I tried to keep a brave face as not to worry him even more. Everyone's dad is their hero and to see even him worried scared me. Not being able to do anything also just made it more scary. They gave him another 1.25mg of his medicine. Said he'd already had one this morning but it was fine as was at hospital and they could monitor him. Thankfully it slowed it down and they've said to increase the dosage to 2.5mg. Drop back down to 1.25mg if he starts to feel dizzy.

Usually I am not sure if he tells the doctors he had been heavy drinking the night before. Well I was there and I wanted him to hear it from them. I made sure to explain he was drinking the night before. The doctor said no alcohol but I thought we've heard it all before. He works in the medical field and knows more about the body than I can dream of. So he knows it himself but I guess that's the addiction. There has been cans of drink on the kitchen side for about a week now. He hasn't touched them but hasn't thrown them away either? I have been wanting to bin them myself but thought he'd take offence to that. Does that make sense? He will come out and say he wasn't going to drink them. Yet still feel disrespected almost that I have binned them. Surely it shows he can quit the drink though if he has done weeks in the past without it? I have told him most people quit after a hang over the next day. God knows how many more would quit if next day means ending up in hospital with af.

Guess a we can do is sit and wait. Don't know when he will have the ablation now. In the mean time have to make sure he isn't drinking. Suppose its good that pubs are closed. Can't have a sneaky drink after work and indoors I will be on him like a hawk. It's only because I love him and never want to see him in that way again. Have been making sure he is eating good healthy food as well. To be honest his diet has always been good though like I say. He has always cycled and ate properly so never been out of shape or anything. Just hope this ablation will finally put a stop to him having ad attacks. If done along side him not drinking. Would have seen it as a cure if he could come off the medicine. Sounds like he'd still be on pills the rest of his life though. Mind you I'd probably be a bag of nerves if he did come off them. Been times I'd sleep with my door open to give me a better chance of hearing him should he shout out for me. After the TIA I stayed awake until 7am could hear the birds singing outside. Just in case he made a sound and had a stroke in his sleep. By 7am my sister was up so knew she'd be there to keep watch. He doesn't know all these things or how I've just cried thinking this is going to kill him. Don't want to add any stress to him or upset him. I'm probably dramatic but not been the most clued up on af. I've just seen him worried and have to go hospital and fear the worst. Feel bit more calm speaking with you all here so thanks.

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