Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moderate-to-heavy alcohol intake may increase risk of atrial fibrillation

Date:
February 14, 2011
Source:
Boston University Medical Center
Summary:
Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). Its name comes from the fibrillating (i.e., quivering) of the heart muscles of the atria, instead of a coordinated contraction. The result is an irregular heartbeat, which may occur in episodes lasting from minutes to weeks, or it could occur all the time for years.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). Its name comes from the fibrillating (i.e., quivering) of the heart muscles of the atria, instead of a coordinated contraction. The result is an irregular heartbeat, which may occur in episodes lasting from minutes to weeks, or it could occur all the time for years. Atrial fibrillation alone is not in itself generally life-threatening, but it may result in palpitations, fainting, chest pain, or congestive heart failure.

Related Articles


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 ... 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 study included a large number of cases with atrial fibrillation, detailed information on potential confounding factors, and complete follow up through nationwide population-based registries. 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.

There is much evidence that heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased incidence of atrial fibrillation, among other health risks. The pattern of consumption (speed, time frame and without food), not often addressed, affects risk too -- we know that binge drinking is associated with a greater incidence of arrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation.

A weakness of this paper, and of essentially all meta-analyses, is that there were varying definitions for categories of alcohol consumption, and the highest category of alcohol intake included alcoholics and 6 or more drinks/day for some studies, while the highest category of alcohol intake was = 1-2 drinks/day in other studies.

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'.

Overall, the scientific evidence from many studies suggests that heavy drinking may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation, although whether light-to-moderate intake increases the risk seems unlikely. Previous basic scientific data of mechanisms of atrial fibrillation have suggested that alcohol has little effect on this arrhythmia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kodama S, Saito K, Tanaka S, Horikawa C, Saito A, Heianza Y, Anasako Y, Nishigaki Y, Yachi Y, Iida KT, Ohashi Y, Yamada N, Sone H. Alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation. A meta-analysis.. J Am Coll Cardiol, 2011;57:427-436

Cite This Page:

Boston University Medical Center. "Moderate-to-heavy alcohol intake may increase risk of atrial fibrillation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214102122.htm>.
Boston University Medical Center. (2011, February 14). Moderate-to-heavy alcohol intake may increase risk of atrial fibrillation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214102122.htm
Boston University Medical Center. "Moderate-to-heavy alcohol intake may increase risk of atrial fibrillation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214102122.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins