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Heavy drinking leads to atrial fibrillation

Men who consume 35 or more alcoholic drinks per week are more likely to experience atrial fibrillation.

Heavy drinking leads to atrial fibrillation

Men who consume 35 or more alcoholic drinks per week are 45 percent more likely to experience atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm problem, as compared to those who consume less than one drink per week. Atrial fibrillation is a common problem in which the heart beats erratically. Since blood does not empty from the chambers as it should, and clots may form, which, if dislodged and passed to the brain, can cause a stroke. Therefore, patients with atrial fibrillation are often treated with medications to slow down the rapid heart rate as well as with blood thinners. Researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, USA, found that there is previous evidence on drinking and atrial fibrillation, from around the world. The clinical assumption has been that there is a higher risk of atrial fibrillation among alcohol drinkers, especially among people who drink a lot. The findings are based on analysis of data from 16,415 men and women who participated in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, a population-based study that began in 1976. During follow-up, a total of 1071 new cases of atrial fibrillation occurred. As noted, heavy alcohol consumption was associated with a significantly increased risk of atrial fibrillation in men. Moreover, the researchers estimate that about 5 percent of atrial fibrillation cases in men were due to heavy alcohol use. There was no evidence that one type of alcoholic beverage was any more culpable than another, in raising atrial fibrillation risk. However, it was difficult to sort out the effects of each beverage since most heavy drinkers did not stick to just one type. The finding suggests that there is an elevated risk of atrial fibrillation associated with heavy drinking.
Circulation,
September 2005
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