Chronic Daily Alcohol Consumption Linked to Atrial Fibrillation

Photo copyright: Steve Parker MD

Photo copyright: Steve Parker MD

Atrial Fibrillation is the most common serious heart rhythm disturbance in folks over 50. It can cause strokes, chest pain, trouble breathing, palpitations, dizziness, fainting, and other problems.

Many cases of atrial fibrillation are of unknown cause, but others are caused by blocked heart arteries, leaky or blocked heart valves, blood mineral disturbances, and overactive thyroid.

Another cause is alcohol consumption. Physicians typically think it takes relatively heavy alcohol consumption, even if just a short-term binge, to cause atrial fibrillation. A recent study suggests low doses could be problematic. From the American Heart Association Newsroom:

“Despite the common perception that moderate alcohol intake is good for the heart, new research suggests long-term alcohol consumption, even as little as one drink a day may enlarge the heart’s left upper chamber (atrium) and increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

“Our study provides the first human evidence of why daily, long-term alcohol consumption may lead to the development of this very common heart rhythm disturbance,” said Gregory Marcus, M.D., senior study author and associate professor of medicine specializing in cardiac electrophysiology at the University of California at San Francisco. “We were somewhat surprised that a relatively small amount of alcohol was associated with a larger left atrium and subsequent atrial fibrillation.”

Source: Drinking alcohol daily may enlarge heart chamber; lead to atrial fibrillation | American Heart Association

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Although alcohol is an option with several of my diets, it’s not mandatory.

Comments are closed.