Alcohol and effect on heart: Hi all, I have... - AF Association

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Alcohol and effect on heart


Hi all,

I have occasional AF and each morning I review my hearts night time activity. I capture it on my Fitbit and review through the "Cardiogram" app. I do this to see if I had AF or spikes in my heart rate while I slept.

When I have woken with AF I can see a distinct likely start point.

However, the one thing that I have unintentionally but categorically learned multiple times over is that when I drink alcohol in the evening my heart rate is higher for the first few hours Im asleep. As my body sleeps and rids itself of the alcohol my heart rate comes back down to the resting levels I see when I do not drink alcohol. (I attach last nights screen shot to show what I mean)

This heightened pulse effect can be seen in my case even after a single beer.

To be clear, Im not saying Im seeing AF but I am definitely (in my case) seeing a higher pulse level than when I don't drink .

Im interested to know whether other people see this same impact on their pulse rate?

Best wishes to this lovely community

27 Replies

This is deffo one were we are all different Guitar335.

Some people on the forum go back in to afib even having one drink. Others are ok with a few beers - for me personally this is the case. I find that two beers lowers my heart rate slightly - I guess it's because it relaxes you a little.

Some also say that certain types of alcohol affects them more. For example wine can have an effect where a beer won't. Maybe try another type of drink to see if things change ?

I'm sure you have it right and have double checked your higher pulse rate is because of having a drink. Just a thought though - does it change anything else ? For example perhaps it takes you longer to fall asleep because you need to pee more ? Your HR at rest lowers when you are sleeping - I can wake up with a rate of 45 (lowest) which of course increases as soon as I get up.

I sorry but I can't help anymore. To answer your question for me my HR lowers slightly with a beer (2-3 max) - however that depends on the amount consumed. I love a beer but my binge drinking days are well over - I know whats coming if I did.


Edit - make sure you are hydrated too before you sleep. Dehydration can affect HR - maybe the drink is leaving your body a little dehydrated ? Just a thought.

David21 in reply to Paulbounce

In my case there is no doubt that alcohol is a huge contributor.The more I have drunk the worse it becomes.

Years ago they used give a person Brandy if they had a heart moment so to speak. So whilst consuming too much ie volume can have an effect, you also have to take into consideration the strength of the drink as mentioned "Brandy". Then you have whatever chemicals and gases that have gone into making the product and for that matter whether It is too cold etc, all of the aforementioned can have an effect on your pulse rate.

RajaRua in reply to john6

Yes John, My mother used to carry a baby bottle of Hennessy's brandy to sip on if she got a "turn" as she used to say. Not exactly sure what the "turn" actually meant but she did have a pacemaker and may have been having ectopic beats.....Not sure. I've tried having some brandy for my turns but it doesn't suite my system and just speeds up my pulse which puts me on edge as I fear I'll go into AFib. So I've knocked the brandy on the head....all alcohol in fact. Except on a very special occasion when I'll have a glass of wine with a meal. I usually get away with that! :-)

RajaRua in reply to john6

Also Alchol is seen as a Vaso Dilator which means it helps dilate blood vessels which would be good for angina and not so good for AFib. I think my Mum just liked the taste and I guess having something to take...?

john6 in reply to RajaRua

I don't actually know but I think that it was meant to be used as a kick start, not a slow down effect, I would guess that it was considered to be a stronger on hand type of short.

Sorry to be a party pooper but the general consensus is that alcohol is best avoided if you have AF. Of course we are are all different so it has to be a personal decision.........

I drank moderately every day for 50 years. Once I had my successful cardioversion I gave up alcohol because I am convinced that's what caused my Atrial Fibrillation. Once I decided no more booze, it's been easy, much easier than dieting. [I am also £1,000 a year better off]

If you look for it there is lots of evidence that alcohol is a risk factor for a-fib.

I gave up any alcohol 8 months ago. I'm certain it triggers my events and the first question if ever in hospital is how much do you drink.

Thankfully, the are some great alcohol free beers available now !

john6 in reply to heronaddict

I'd be careful re alcohol free beers, quite often it can be the coldness of the beer or the chemicals within the product, that will set it off.

heronaddict in reply to john6

Oh well, total abstinence for me then !

Look for organic

Thank you, will certainly look at options

I really like my wine, did a 1st level Sommelier course few years ago. I don’t drink much but have cut down and careful how much I have.

john6 in reply to heronaddict

Not necessarily. As Flapjack says we are all different and it is very much a personal choice. My wife and I under normal circumstances meet up with friends around 3/4 times a week, I drink around 2.5 pints of moderate strength beer on 3 of those nights, because we are out later on the 4th night I might drink up to 4 pints. Since we have been on lock down, I have had half of a bottle beer that I was not fussed on and threw the rest away, I have not touched anything else, as such my Afib has not lessened one bit.

I should also have mentioned that consuming volume ie 4/5/6/7 pints, is a lot of weight to put inside yourself. As such, your system is going to have to up its game in dealing with it in handling the strain, the strength, along with getting rid of it, all of which involves the heart. Try moderation and importantly sipping and not whooshing, if it is a problem then it goes on to the cannot be doing it list.

heronaddict in reply to john6

I think this is how I feel re alcohol and caffeine. I have cut out anything that I fear will trigger it again (thankfully in sinus rhythm for a few months now)

If it returns, I can say I did my best !

Hi, can't add to your question about alcohol but very interested in which fitbit you have which gives you such a detailed heart rate reading. I have P Afibb which when it happens, it lasts for up to 12hrs, usually coming on when I fall asleep at night. I have a charge 2 fitbit and some nights it cant give me a heart rate reading at all for when I'm asleep and I have wondered if I have been in Afibb at those times but didn't wake up and woke back up in sinus rhythm in the morning. It would be helpful to know if I was in sinus rhythm or not at those times. Thanks,



I use a charge 2 but analyse the Fitbit heart rate data using an app called ‘Cardiogram’ on my iPhone.

Thankyou I will try that

My HR spikes after any alcoholic drink but also after coffee and sometimes any warm drink. I don’t think that is unusual. The difficulty for me was that the increased HR would often trigger AF but no longer. It’s a very elusive condition which is ever changing.

I would not dare comment on your overnight trace as I just don't know, what I can say is that you will not believe what your body does during sleep and yes HR will vary considerably during this time. Alcohol, caffeine and sugar in particular are stimulants and will change you sleeping pattern, HR etc. Depending on your heart condition and how irritated it is, an increased HR can cause/kick start an arrhythmia as can a low HR cause ectopics and these in turn cause kick start an arrhythmia.

Having too much alcohol, caffeine and sugar can be somewhat mitigated by drink water.

Alcohol doesn't trigger AFib with me, but my heart rate increases about from about 65 to 75 per minute, just as yours does, I can tell by my Apple watch linked to my iphone which gives me a detailed picture day and night.

Interestingly, I watched a 'Brits abroad' type of programme some time ago and the programme followed a group of young men determined to live it up in Spain. Their sole purpose was to binge drink and they would start with bottles of spirits in the hotel room before going out to clubs. There was a doctor with the camera crew and she was so concerned about these young men, she examined them before they went out. Their heart rates were between 140 - 160. And that was before hours of further very heavy drinking. She stressed to them the next day how much they all were putting their lives in danger, AFib must have been way down the list as it wasn't even mentioned.

I used to question whether alcohol was a stimulant, since paradoxically it always made me feel more relaxed and (I thought) gave me a better quality of sleep. Although I cut down my alcohol intake considerably since being diagnosed with PAF, my Garmin watch and Connect app have enabled me to observe similar HR elevation to yours during sleep hours.

I am normally ~60bpm during sleep, with transient bursts to about ~80bpm every hour or so, which I put down to restlessness and change of sleep position. The Garmin is not capable of showing AF; I use a Kardia or Apple watch for that. Depending on the amount of alcohol I have consumed before going to bed, my heart rate will increase by 5 to 10bpm in the first few hours of sleep, usually reverting back to ~60bpm by the time I wake up.

There is no doubt whatsoever that alcohol promotes AF, but we all respond differently and some of us can enjoy a couple of units or more without obvious ill effects. I don't have issues with most beers <4% ABV., but the sulphites in wine and quinine in tonic water can give rise to ectopics. I had a successful PVI cryoablation 18 months ago and my QOL has been greatly enhanced. The Covid-19 lockdown has opened my mind to the possibilities of a life without pubs and I dare say the time is coming when my alcohol consumption will fall to zero.

AF loves alcohol, stress and high blood pressure. Others as well. This is what my Cardiologist told me on our first meeting.

I have found out via my Fitbit that alcohol definitely raises my heart rate/AFib. I was already limiting my alcohol intake(due to AF) to just one small glass with my evening meal. Then stopped drinking recently and noticed a real difference, so now I have 'stopped' drinking, meaning when I pour my husband's glass of wine, or open a new bottle I will have one slurp :) Heart rate/AF at bedtime so much better now and during the night.

Seventy9 in reply to AnotherLiz


Thank you for that I must be stupid not to

Have tried cutting it out altogether.

At 80 still drive to France difficult to abstain my Wife Jane ( 59 years married)

Still opens a Bottle each night with not

Much left till next evening.

What I’m saying is - we like a drink

I’ll stop and see who it goes


John ( Seventy 9 )

Hi John here ( 79 Log in ) I’m actually 80

Now .

I find your Alcohol findings very interesting

I have 2 Bottles of lovely Pironi each

Night for some time.

I have been in permanent AF for a year.

My walking has got worst mainly due to

Heart . It’s not working as it should.

Had Cardio Version it worked for about

24 Hours.

Now on heavy dose of Beta Blockers.

Awaiting a Second shot at Cardio Version

But lock down has knocked it back.

Will try cutting out Beers and see if any

Improvement. Thanks

John 79

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