Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Alcohol May Be Related To Irregular Heartbeats


Relatively low levels of drinking may trigger potentially dangerous irregular heartbeats, new research has found.

The research showed that for every extra alcoholic drink a person has per day, they increase their risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) by eight percent.

AF occurs when the heart loses rhythm, so that is beats in a haphazard way, which can cause blood to pool and clot and is closely linked to strokes and heart failure.

While previous studies have suggested that moderate alcohol intake - up to seven standard drinks per week for women and 14 for men - can benefit health and reduce the risk of narrowed arteries, this does not apply to heartbeat, according to the review of data from more than 100 studies with almost 900,000 participants, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Alcohol has many other effects on the human body, several of which are likely to contribute to irregular heartbeat, say scientists.

Drinking alcohol can lead to small amounts of fibrous tissue within the heart, and it may also alter electrical signals that regulate the contraction of heart muscles cells and affect the autonomic nervous system which controls many bodily functions.

Lead researcher Professor Peter Kistler, from the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, said: "The results are significant, since chances are, there are people who are consuming one to two glasses of alcohol per day that may not realise they are putting themselves at risk for irregular heartbeat."

The researchers advised people who experienced occasional irregular heart beats to limit their alcohol consumption to one drink per day, and ensure they have two days each week when they do not drink at all.

Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "The festive period is often a time of feasting and celebrations which can often lead to an increase in alcohol consumption.

"No one should increase their alcohol units or take up drinking alcohol based on any current or past research into the possible benefits.

"Any small benefits there could be from drinking alcohol are far outweighed by the risks and drinking too much could lead to irregular heart rhythms and also liver failure, high blood pressure and stroke."



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