Alcohol may negatively impact consumers’ heart rhythm: Research

*Experts worry about the risks associated with alcohol and atrial fibrillation in consumers

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Researchers from the American College of Cardiology, in a new study conducted explored the heart health risks associated with drinking alcohol.

ConsumerConnect gathered their study findings revealed that alcohol can almost immediately impact heart rhythm, which can also increase the risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Dr. Gregory M. Marcus, one of the researchers, said: “Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the world, and there is still a lot we don’t understand about what it does to our bodies, and in particular, our hearts.

“Based on our data, we found that alcohol can actually influence the likelihood that an episode of AFib will occur within a few hours, and the more alcohol consumed, the higher the risk of having an event.”

In investigating how alcohol impacts heart rhythm, the researchers had 100 participants with intermittent AFib involved in the study.

Over the course of four weeks, the group wore monitors on their ankles and hearts that measured both alcohol consumption and heart rate.

The participants self-reported on the heart monitors any time they surpassed three alcoholic beverages, and the researchers conducted interviews with the group to determine their typical lifestyle habits and medical histories.

Report indicated that over the course of the study, more than half of the participants experienced an AFib episode within hours of drinking alcohol, and the more they drank, the higher the likelihood of an AFib episode.

However, even having just a drink led to complications with heart rhythm during the study, according to researchers.

Dr. Marcus further submitted: “There is conventional wisdom that alcohol is ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ for the heart, based on observational studies, but that relates to coronary heart disease and heart attack.

“These new data present an interesting conundrum regarding the overall risks versus benefits of alcohol in moderation.

“But the data is very clear that more is not better when it comes to alcohol; those who drink more have a higher risk of heart attack and death.”

The researchers said based on the blood alcohol reading from the ankle monitors, they learned that each 0.1 percent increase in blood alcohol concentration increased the risk of an AFib episode by 40 percent.

Surpassing two drinks in one sitting made AFib incidents three times more likely to occur for the participants, they noted.

Dr. Marcus stated: “When patients ask me what they can do to avoid an AFib episode, I tell them the evidence suggests that they should minimise, if not completely eliminate, alcohol.

He added: “But we have to consider quality of life as well, which is both relevant to arrhythmia symptoms and the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine once in a while for some.

“So, it’s not as simple as instructing everyone to avoid alcohol.”

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