AFib and Alcohol

Had a pacemaker put in over a year ago and I’m on beta blocker, anti arrhythmia drug and Eliquis. I’m up to about 3-4 beers per night since all the virus stuff hit. I’m generally healthy, I exercise, eat well and not overweight. I turn 60 this year. 
My AF burden is low according to my monitor. Actually zero in the last few weeks. 

Any opinions on this? I seem to see a lot lately on drinking and AF. Not sure what to believe. A couple of beers relaxes me and stress seems to be my trigger for AF



by Swangirl - 2020-05-17 21:31:37

Because you pose this question about your drinking it suggests that you have some concerns that it may not be the best way to manage your stress.  Actually the CDC definition of an "alcoholic" is someone who consumes 21 or more alcoholic drinks per week whether spread out or in a binge.  I understand that we all are coping differently with the unusual way we have to live now but alcohol can become habituated and as tolerance increases often leads to more.  

The healthy recommendation is one drink for women and two for men preferably with food or in a social setting.  

Your medications seem to indicate that you have heart and cardiovascular issues and maybe alcohol is contraindicated with these drugs. 

Stress is very ammenable to cognitive behavioral therapy that you can teach yourself or learn in a few sessions with a therapist.  



by Gemita - 2020-05-18 07:21:39

Hello John,

For many alcohol is a most definite trigger for Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and many other arrhythmias.  It is for me and if I take even a sip of the stuff it can result in palpitations and a loss of blissful normal sinus rhythm for hours.  Of course there are many potential triggers for AF but alcohol is clearly one of them for many of us.

I was told that alcohol (wines, spirits - not sure about beer?) can make our blood thinner and might pose an additional potential bleeding/bruising risk for those taking anticoagulation for example, so this could be a problem for many of us living with AF.   Alcohol is generally not recommended with many meds that we may need to take for AF (and many other conditions).  For example a rate control/blood pressure med like a beta blocker combined with alcohol could lower blood pressure further causing dizziness, fainting.  Alcohol combined with an anti arrhythmic med could worsen any side effects and be potentially dangerous.  I would definitely check with your doctor about the safety of 4 beers a day.  Maybe fewer would be safer ?

Alcohol acts like a diuretic and can quickly cause dehydration and dehydration will worsen AF.  You may only have periodic episodes of AF now but AF tends to progress over time unless we can find ways to control it.  I would respectfully suggest that alcohol may not be the best control measure that we can find for either AF or relaxation although I accept it is a very pleasurable one if we can control our intake.  For me personally alcohol switches on my AF so even a nice glass of wine with my main meal is something I try to avoid !!  I hope you find the right balance for you


by AgentX86 - 2020-05-18 20:17:44

I can attest to the fact that Alcohol will "thin" the blood significantly.  When I did drink, I'd bleed for a long time with minor cuts.  When doing wood working, I'd bleed all over the wood with just a nick.  I bled a lot more than I did than with warfarin and way more than the Eliquis.  It is not a good idea to drink significant alcohol when you're taking another anticoagulant. A serious injury could be lethal.

As far as AF goes, it's really a personal thing.  It aggravates some and doesn't others.  My original cardiologist told me that any alcohol was a non-starter for those with AF.  I now think that was over the top.  After my CABG surgery, my current cardiologist said one a day wouldn't be a problem and may even be beneficial.  I find zero easier than one, so don't, and would suggest that others with heart disease not drink any more than (very) occaisionally or perhaps one with meals.

Alcohol hasn't been shown to cause AF, in fact the only non-heart disease causes of AF are endurance sports.The long-term exertion causes the heart to get larger causing fibrosis, much like heart diseases that cause an enlarged heart. This is why AF is so common in altheletes (particularly endurance sports atheletes).


You know you're wired when...

Your signature looks like an EKG.

Member Quotes

I have earned my Black Belt. I now teach class!