And exactly how do alcohol and caffeine affect someone with A-fib? Danielle Dresden published an article that was reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, CNE, COI, on this exact subject. Those suffering from A-fib describe it as feeling like their heart could flop out of their chests while some feel about to pass out. Still, others feel absolutely nothing at all.
The most common form of heart arrhythmia is called atrial fibrillation (A-fib), or irregular heartbeat that affects 2.7-6.1 million people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Appearing with a variety of symptoms, they do all have the same cause of irregular and rapid beating of the upper chambers of the heart. These episodes can be unsettling and uncomfortable but aren’t usually life-threatening. If untreated though, A-fib can lead to dangerous health conditions.
Those diagnosed with A-fib are about 5X more likely to have a stroke that can lead to permanent disability or death as it can weaken the heart muscles over time, which triples the risk of heart failure. The risk of dementia also doubles.
Alcohol’s impact on the heart is a subject of ongoing discussion in the medical field. Researchers believe it can have both positive and negative impacts. A positive with moderate drinking include raising levels of the “good” cholesterol, preventing platelets from forming blood clots and reducing the buildup of plaque in the circulatory system.
Negative effects of alcohol are high blood pressure, heart failure, weight gain leading to high blood pressure and enlarged heart.
Caffeine has many effects on the human body, according to the American Heart Association, but no links have been confirmed between caffeine intake and heart disease. There is no link found between caffeine and arrhythmia, but reports indicate that drinking more than 5 cups of coffee each day can raise blood pressure. Many health experts believe there is a connection between caffeine, alcohol and A-fib that can trigger an attack. Researchers are currently investigating the specific causes.
The thought is divided on whether or not people with A-fib can consume alcohol or caffeine safely. The American Heart Association advises those with A-fib to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine. A recommended general heart health guideline sets the limits of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, according to the American Heart Association. Other risk factors are age, obesity, genetics, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and European ancestry. There is a closer connection between obstructive sleep apnea and A-fib than any other risk factor. Further potential causes include: certain medical procedures, emotional stress, physical stress, dehydration, sleep, hormones and exercise.
A heart-healthy diet can help those with A-fib, such as eating a variety of fruits, veggies and whole grains, protein sources as legumes, fish and poultry, intake of omega-3 as salmon, herring or trout, reducing sodium, avoiding saturated fats and foods that contain them, limiting oil, avoiding sugary beverages and not smoking and/or being subjected to secondhand smoke. Exercising regularly is essential for a healthy heart function. A very basic level of activity as 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise 5 days a week and muscle-strengthening activities twice a week is recommended by the American Heart Association.
Dr Fredda Branyon