Alcohol use is common nowadays, and excessive usage among individuals continues to be high. Excessive drinking is a recognized atrial fibrillation risk factor, and now researchers have shown that mild and moderate consumption is a modifiable risk factor of significance for atrial fibrillation. They demonstrated that regular and moderate consumption of alcohol averaging 14 glasses a week leads to more evidence of scarring as well as impairments in electrical signaling in comparison to zero and light alcohol consumption.
Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm accompanied by rapid and uncontrolled beating of the 2 upper heart chambers known as the atria. Research suggests that even moderate regular consumption of alcohol can increase atrial fibrillation risk.
A meta-analysis of 7 studies that involved nearly 860,000 individuals and around 12,500 individuals with atrial fibrillation showed an 8% increase in atrial fibrillation for each extra daily drink. However, there has not been any detailed human electrophysiological research explaining the nature of alcohol-related atrial remodeling in spite of the regular alcohol intake and atrial fibrillation association.
This study’s purpose was to find out how different levels of alcohol intake impacted atrial remodeling making use of high-density electroanatomic mapping. Researchers carried out detailed invasive atria testing on 75 individuals having atrial fibrillation, divided into 3 groups of 25: 1 group of lifelong non-drinkers, 1 group of mild drinkers, and 1 group of moderate drinkers.
Average alcohol intake in standard drinks/week (1 standard glass is approximately 12 g of alcohol) was self-reported by study participants over the following 12 months. Individuals consuming 2 to 7 drinks/week were considered to be mild drinkers, while individuals consuming 8 to 21 drinks/week (an average of 14 drinks/week) were considered to be moderate drinkers.
The researchers found that individuals consuming moderate quantities of alcohol (an average of 14 drinks/week) had more evidence of scarring and electrical signaling impairments in comparison to zero and light alcohol consumers.
The study highlights the significance of excessive drinking as an important atrial fibrillation risk factor. Regular moderate drinking, and not mild alcohol consumption, is a significant modifiable risk factor for atrial fibrillation. It’s an important reminder for health professionals who’re caring for individuals having atrial fibrillation to inquire about alcohol intake and provide the necessary counseling for individuals who over-indulge.