Researchers found that how frequently a person has alcohol affects the likelihood of developing an irregular heartbeat more than the volume of alcohol consumed.
Drinking one or two glasses of wine every day increases a person’s risk of developing an irregular heartbeat more than binge drinking on the weekend, a new study says.
Researchers said data shows that drinkers who frequently consumed small amounts of alcohol increased their risks for atrial fibrillation – AFib – more than those who consumed large quantities of alcohol less frequently, according to results published in EP Eurospace, the journal of the European Society of Cardiology.
The study analyzed data from nearly 10 million people and found that the number of drinking sessions increased the likelihood of an atrial fibrillation diagnosis.
Those that drank every day had the highest risk factor of developing atrial fibrillation among any of the participants, while those who drank only once a week had the lowest risk.
The study found that it didn’t matter if weekly consumption exceeded 210 grams of alcohol, it was the frequency of alcohol consumption that increased the risk. Researchers did not find a correlation between the onset of atrial fibrillation and binge drinking.
The findings suggest that reducing the frequency of alcohol consumption could be key in lowering the risk of atrial fibrillation.
An irregular heartbeat causes poor blood flow, and it can lead to severe cardiovascular problems, including strokes, blood clots, and heart failure.
Researchers examined 9,776,956 patients without atrial fibrillation in 2009. These patients underwent a national health check-up and were asked to fill out a questionnaire about how often and how much they drank. Researchers followed up on participants until 2017 to check for any occurrence of atrial fibrillation.
If you choose to drink alcohol, it’s important to stay within the current UK guidelines of no more than 14 units a week, keeping some days alcohol free.
Excess alcohol consumption is not only a risk factor for irregular heart rhythms, but it can also damage the heart muscle, a heart condition called cardiomyopathy.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, affecting around one million people in the UK and 2.7 million in the US.