A 14-year study in Germany did not reveal how regular consumption of small amounts of alcohol can trigger atrial fibrillation.
Even drinking a small glass of alcohol a day increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, according to a German study published in the European Heart Journal on Wednesday. The likelihood of such an arrhythmia is 16 percent higher among those who drink small glasses of alcohol a day than among those who abstain completely from alcohol, a research group at the University of Hamburg-Eppendorf found. Cardiologist Renate Schnabel therefore warns against the oft-heard recommendation that
“A glass of wine a day protects the heart,”
in his view, this is only to a limited extent. It is known that people who regularly drink a lot of alcohol have a higher risk of heart failure, and heart failure can increase the incidence of atrial fibrillation, also known as atrial fibrillation. However, several studies have also shown a somewhat increased risk of heart problems in those who never consume alcohol. Studies often run out that this risk is lower among moderate drinkers and then rises higher the more someone drinks. Also in the current study, the researchers found that those who drank small amounts of alcohol had a lower risk of heart failure than abstainers. However, a similar reduction in risk was not observed for atrial fibrillation. This suggests that people who consume small amounts of alcohol are not at higher risk of atrial fibrillation due to heart failure, the study reads. “Previous studies have not explored this issue in depth, although they have shown links between alcohol consumption and other cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack or heart failure. We can now show that in our study
even a small, regular consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation ”
Renate Schnabel explained.
The researchers found a small amount of alcohol in 12 grams of pure ethanol, equivalent to 0.125 liters of wine, a glass of beer, or four centiliters of concentration. The study analyzed data from 107,845 individuals who participated in five studies between 1982 and 2010 in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Italy. Of the participants, 100,092 did not have atrial fibrillation at the time of enrollment in the study, with a mean age of 48 years. In the follow-up period of almost 14 years, 5,854 people developed atrial fibrillation. The associations between alcohol consumption and the risk of atrial fibrillation were similar for all types of alcoholic beverages, as well as for men and women. While atrial fibrillation occurred in four percent of those abstaining from alcohol during the study period, tremor occurred in 5 percent of those who drank slightly more than one drink per week, which jumped to 75 percent among those who consumed one or equivalent amounts of alcohol per day. In addition to the 16 percent higher risk of atrial fibrillation than abstainers, German researchers found that the risk increased with the amount of alcohol consumed: those who consumed (small amounts of) alcohol twice a day had a 28 percent higher risk of fibrillation, which rose to 47 percent. for consumers of more than four servings of alcohol per day. The exact mechanism by which small amounts of alcohol can induce atrial fibrillation is unknown.
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