Moderate alcohol use 'may be linked to heart chamber damage and atrial fibrillation'

30 September 2016

A new study has offered evidence that even moderate alcohol consumption may increase a person's risk of heart chamber damage and atrial fibrillation.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco have evaluated data from more than 5,000 adults included in the Framingham Heart Study. The overall rate of atrial fibrillation in the group was 8.4 cases per 1,000 people per year.

Participants reported on average just over one drink per day, with each additional drink per day associated with a five percent increase in the yearly risk, as well as a statistically significant 0.16 millimetre enlargement of the left atrium.

Atrial fibrillation is a known risk factor for stroke, causing irregular pumping of blood that can lead to blood clots that then travel to the brain.

Past studies have indicated that moderate drinking can potentially reduce the risk of a heart attack, but the commensurate increase in the risk of atrial fibrillation shows that the habit may still not be heart-healthy on balance.

Dr Gregory Marcus, endowed professor of atrial fibrillation research at the University of California, San Francisco, said: "I'm constantly trying to remind people that there are various forms of heart disease and not all are related to heart attack. Atrial fibrillation is growing in importance as our success in preventing heart attack grows."

Posted by Edward Bartel


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