Heavy Alcohol Consumption Linked to Heart Rhythm Disorder

by Colleen Fleiss on Dec 3 2020 11:09 PM

Heavy Alcohol Consumption Linked to Heart Rhythm Disorder
Fourteen drinks a week is associated with an increased risk of health problems including stroke and embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation, according to research published in EP Europace, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
Patients with atrial fibrillation should avoid heavy alcohol consumption to prevent stroke and other related complications.

The study included 9,411 patients with atrial fibrillation from 18 tertiary hospitals covering all geographical regions of South Korea.

Patients were categorised into four groups according to their weekly alcohol consumption (one drink contains 14 grams of alcohol)
  • abstainer/rare (0 grams/less than one drink)
  • light (less than 100 grams/7 drinks)
  • moderate (100-200 grams/7-14 drinks)
  • heavy (200 grams/14 drinks or more).
A total of 7,455 (79.2%) patients were classified as abstainer/rare, 795 (8.4%) as light, 345 (3.7%) as moderate, and 816 (8.7%) as heavy alcohol consumption.

Patients were followed-up for a median of 17.4 months for adverse events, which included stroke, transient ischaemic attack, systemic embolism (a blood clot in a limb or organ), and hospitalisation for rate or rhythm control of atrial fibrillation or for heart failure management.

Results revealed that heavy drinking was associated with a 32% increased risk compared with the abstainers and rare drinkers. No significant association was observed for light or moderate alcohol consumption.

Dr. Boyoung Joung of Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea said: "Our study did not find any significant association between light or moderate drinking and complications. A significant deleterious relationship with heavy drinking was identified, suggesting that heavy alcohol consumption should be avoided."

The impact of heavy drinking was:
  • More pronounced in patients with low stroke risk compared to those at moderate or high stroke risk.
  • Associated with a greater likelihood of unfavorable outcomes in patients without high blood pressure compared to those with high blood pressure.
  • Observed in patients not using beta-blockers or antiplatelet medications compared to those taking the drugs. Dr. Joung said: "The findings indicate that heavy drinking is particularly detrimental for atrial fibrillation patients who are considered less vulnerable to complications. Clinicians should ask patients about their alcohol consumption and take it into account when calculating their stroke risk."