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Heavy Drinking May Boost Risk for Atrial Fibrillation
Date:1/17/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- People who drink a lot, and do so often, increase their chances of developing the chronic heart rate or rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation, according to Japanese researchers.

A common arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation carries a serious risk for stroke. Although drinking has previously been linked to atrial fibrillation, the researchers say their new study shows that habitual drinking as well as episodic drinking can significantly increase the risk for the condition.

"Don't put much confidence in moderate drinking," said Dr. Satoru Kodama, from the internal medicine department at the University of Tsukuba Institute of Clinical Medicine and the study's lead researcher.

"Chronic high drinking is significantly associated with risk of [atrial fibrillation], and the AF risk is related in a dose-response fashion to daily alcohol drinking," he said.

For the study, published online Jan. 18 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Kodama and colleagues analyzed 14 studies from around the world, in a process called a meta-analysis. The studies involved 130,820 people, including 7,558 who had atrial fibrillation.

The researchers calculated the risk for the disorder for those who drank the most -- at least two drinks a day for men and at least one for women, plus the daily drinks consumed by alcohol abusers and alcoholics -- and compared those figures with the risk for those who drank the least. Two drinks a day for men and one for women is often considered moderate drinking, and other studies have shown that amount holds benefits for heart health.

But the Japanese researchers found that moderate drinkers may have a greater risk of atrial fibrillation than nondrinkers, although the risk is not as large as that for heavy drinkers. Those who drank the most had a significantly increased risk for atrial fib
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