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Alcohol linked to irregular heartbeat

Consuming two or more alcoholic beverages per day may slightly increase the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat.

Alcohol linked to irregular heartbeat

Consuming two or more alcoholic beverages per day may increase the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat, referred to as atrial fibrillation, in women. Atrial fibrillation, the most common arrhythmia, occurs when rapid, disorganised electrical signals in the heart cause very fast and irregular contractions (fibrillations), resulting in inefficient pumping of blood through the heart. Although atrial fibrillation may not cause symptoms, the condition still increases the risk of stroke. Atrial fibrillation may also lead to chest pain, heart attack and even heart failure. To assess the association between alcohol consumption and risk of developing atrial fibrillation in women, researchers from Switzerland identified 34,715 women, aged over 45 years and free from atrial fibrillation at the beginning of the study. During the follow-up period of 13 years, 653 women developed atrial fibrillation. It was found that women who consumed two or more alcoholic drinks per day were 60 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than women who consumed no alcoholic beverages. The consumption of smaller amounts of alcohol did not significantly impact the risk of atrial fibrillation. The above findings indicate that heavier alcohol consumption of 2 or more drinks per day is associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation in middle-aged healthy women.
U.S. National Institutes of Health Meeting
December 2008
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