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Moderate Drinking Can Lead to Atrial Fibrillation in Men, Study Finds

Posted in Alcohol Abuse

A new study has found that even moderate alcohol consumption can lead to atrial fibrillation (AF), which is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm. By itself, the syndrome is not generally life-threatening, but it can result in palpitations, fainting, chest pain, or congestive heart failure.

Researchers with the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research noted that one of the best studies on the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of atrial fibrillation is a Danish study that examined 22,528 men and 25,421 women over six years.

The study looked at a large number of atrial fibrillation cases, potential confounding factors, and complete follow-up though nationwide population-based registries. The results found a modest increase in the risk of AF in men who had more than two drinks per day, and no association between alcohol consumption and the risk of AF in women.

Plenty of previous studies suggest that heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of AF, among other health risks. However, the pattern of alcohol consumption is not always addressed. The researchers point out that they know binge drinking is associated with a greater incidence of arrhythmias, especially AF.

The researchers note that while there are some weaknesses in the study, the message remains that there is a difference among moderate drinking, binge drinking, heavy drinking, and inherent health risks. The researchers wanted to know if light to moderate drinking increases the risk of AF, and their study seems to suggest that it does—at least among men.

Source: Science Daily, Moderate-to-Heavy Alcohol Intake May Increase Risk of Atrial Fibrillation, February 14, 2011