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Even Moderate Drinking Might Raise Odds for Irregular Heartbeat
Date:7/14/2014

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Her team also analyzed data from six prior studies that included a total of more than 12,500 cases of atrial fibrillation. That analysis found that each additional drink per day of any type of alcohol boosted the risk of irregular heartbeat by 8 percent.

Both trials could only point to an association between drinking levels and risk for atrial fibrillation; they could not prove cause-and-effect.

However, the new findings may make it tough for consumers to know how much drinking is good or bad for them, one heart expert said.

Dr. Evelina Grayver is director of the Coronary Care Unit at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. She noted that some high-profile studies released in the past have suggested that a drink or two per day might actually boost heart health.

"This study now prompts us to balance the already known fact about reduced risk of heart disease and stroke associated with low-moderate alcohol consumption, with the potential increased risk for atrial fibrillation," she said.

Grayver believes that in the end there's no "one size fits all" guideline for drinking and cardiovascular health. She advises people to "be aware of their own risk factors for atrial fibrillation -- hypertension, diabetes, age, history of heart failure and stroke -- and realize that alcohol use may have more harm than benefit in certain individual patients."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about atrial fibrillation.

SOURCES: Evelina Grayver, M.D., director, Coronary Care Unit, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; Journal of the American College of Cardiology, news release, July 14, 2014

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