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Consuming Alcohol May Increase Risk for Atrial Fibrillation

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13, 2021 -- Alcohol consumption, even at a level of one drink per day, is associated with an increased risk for atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a study published online Jan. 12 in the European Heart Journal.

Dora Csengeri, Dr. Med., from the University Heart & Vascular Center Hamburg in Germany, and colleagues followed 107,845 individuals to assess the association between alcohol consumption, including types of alcohol and drinking patterns, and incident AF. Information was collected on classical cardiovascular risk factors and incident heart failure.

The researchers found that 5,854 individuals developed AF during a median follow-up of 13.9 years. Alcohol consumption was nonlinearly and positively associated with incident AF in a sex- and cohort-stratified analysis. For one drink (12 g) per day, the hazard ratio was 1.16. Similar associations were seen across types of alcohol. In contrast, a reduced risk for incident heart failure was seen with alcohol consumption at lower doses. Neither cardiac biomarker concentrations nor the occurrence of heart failure fully explained the association between alcohol consumption and incident AF.

"Given recent trials among moderate drinkers showing reduced episodes of AF recurrence after periods of abstinence, and the fact that we found that even low levels of alcohol intake may confer risk, a strategy of reduction of alcohol consumption might have the potential to prevent a substantial number of cases of AF," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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Posted: January 2021

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