Moderate-to-heavy alcohol intake may increase risk of abnormal heart rhythm

February 15th, 2011 - 1:50 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 15 (ANI): A new study has found that moderate to heavy alcohol intake may increase risk of atrial fibrillation (AF).

AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). Atrial fibrillation alone is not in itself generally life-threatening, but it may result in palpitations, fainting, chest pain, or congestive heart failure.

There is no doubt that heavy alcohol intake and binge drinking can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, with the “Holiday Heart Syndrome” being known for more than three decades. This syndrome often includes atrial fibrillation; the syndrome is usually not associated with long-standing heart disease and the arrhythmia tends to resolve when drinking stops.

Members of The international Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research comment, “This paper, Alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation. A meta-analysis. J Am Coll Cardiol 2011;57:427-436. analyzing the results of 14 papers suggests that even moderate drinking can lead to this syndrome, but others find no effect for moderate alcohol intake, only for heavy drinking.

One of the best studies on alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation is a Danish cohort study (the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study) examining the issue among 22,528 men and 25,421 women followed over 6 years. The results included a modest increase in risk of atrial fibrillation in men drinking more that 2 drinks/day and no association between alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation in women.

The consistent message is that there is a difference between heavy and moderate use of alcohol, between binge drinking and a healthy pattern of drinking, and inherent health risk. The most important question would be: Does light to moderate drinking increase the risk of AF? The conclusion of the authors of this paper seems to be yes, while many other studies find little effect of such drinking.” (ANI)

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