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New Research into Alcohol & A-Fib: How Many Drinks are Too Many?

“While moderate amounts of alcohol appear protective for the ‘plumbing,’ or blood supply to the heart muscle, the benefits of alcohol do not extend to the electrical parts of the heart, or heartbeat.”

Over time, drinking may actually change the electrical signals, triggering irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias).

“The benefits of alcohol do not extend to the electrical parts of the heart.”

Risk per Daily Alcohol Drink

A new study found the risk of atrial fibrillation grew by 8 percent for each daily alcoholic drink. The findings were similar for men and women. The authors looked at previous studies that tracked almost 900,000 people over 12 years.

Fibrosis: The study doesn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Nevertheless, “cell damage from habitual drinking may lead to small amounts of fibrous tissue within the heart that causes the irregular, quivering heartbeat”, the study authors said.

Post-catheter ablation: The review found that people who continue to drink are more likely to have ongoing irregular heartbeats even after catheter ablation.

Weekly recommendation: “..No more than one alcoholic drink per day with two alcohol-free days a week.”

Weekly Alcohol Recommendation

Dr. Pater Kistler recommended that those with irregular heartbeat “should probably drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day with two alcohol-free days a week.”

He added they had no randomized data that tells what a ‘safe’ amount is to consume. The study authors called for more research to determine whether avoiding alcohol completely is required for patients who have irregular heartbeats.

Know Your Triggers

Some Atrial Fibrillation patients have sworn off alcohol altogether. Through trial and error, they’ve found that any amount of alcohol contributes to or triggers their A-Fib episodes.

Dr. Kistler’s research is helpful for the balance of A-Fib patients. It offers some research-based guidelines to minimize the impact of alcohol consumption on their A-Fib.

For additional reading, see my article:Holiday Heart”: Binging Alcohol, Marijuana & Rich Foods.

Resources for this article

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