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Frequent Drinking is Greater Risk Factor for Heart Rhythm Disorder than Binge Drinking

Drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently is linked with a higher likelihood of atrial fibrillation than binge drinking, according to research published today in EP Europace, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

‘Recommendations about alcohol consumption have focused on reducing the absolute amount rather than the frequency,’ said study author Dr. Jong-Il Choi, of Korea University College of Medicine and Korea University Anam Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea. ‘Our study suggests that drinking less often may also be important to protect against atrial fibrillation.’

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder and raises the risk of stroke by five-fold. Symptoms include palpitations, racing or irregular pulse, shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain and dizziness.

‘Our study suggests that frequent drinking is more dangerous than infrequent binge drinking with regard to atrial fibrillation,’ said Dr. Choi. ‘The number of drinking sessions was related to atrial fibrillation onset regardless of age and sex. Repeated episodes of atrial fibrillation triggered by alcohol may lead to overt disease. In addition, drinking can provoke sleep disturbance which is a known risk factor for atrial fibrillation.’

He concluded: ‘Atrial fibrillation is a disease with multiple dreadful complications and significantly impaired quality of life. Preventing atrial fibrillation itself, rather than its complications, should be our first priority. Alcohol consumption is probably the most easily modifiable risk factor. To prevent new-onset atrial fibrillation, both the frequency and weekly amount of alcohol consumption should be reduced.

More information on detail of study: Yun Gi Kim et al, Frequent drinking is a more important risk factor for new-onset atrial fibrillation than binge drinking: a nationwide population-based study, EP Europace (2019). DOI: 10.1093/europace/euz256

Paulus Kirchhof et al. 2016 ESC Guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation developed in collaboration with EACTS, European Heart Journal (2016). DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehw210

Susanna C. Larsson et al. Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation, Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2014). DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.03.048

Provided by European Society of Cardiology 

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