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HRS: Excessive Alcohol Linked to Atrial Fibrillation

Risk is 2.8-fold higher in men and women who drink more than 21 and 14 units of alcohol per week, respectively

FRIDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are nearly three times as likely to develop atrial fibrillation as moderate or non-drinkers, according to a study presented at the 28th Annual Scientific Sessions of the Heart Rhythm Society in Denver.

Joe L. Martins, M.R.C.P., of Imperial College London, and colleagues measured weekly alcohol consumption in patients presenting to a U.K. clinic with symptoms of new cardiac arrhythmia.

The investigators found that 27 percent of patients with atrial fibrillation had excessive alcohol use compared to 17 percent of those without atrial fibrillation. Both mean and median alcohol consumption were greatest in the atrial fibrillation group. Risk of atrial fibrillation was found to rise by 2 percent for each unit of alcohol consumed. Overall, the risk for atrial fibrillation was 2.8-fold higher in women drinking more than 14 units per week and men drinking more than 21 units per week.

"This drinking pattern can potentially be changed and thus even a small decrease in the prevalence of excess alcohol consumption could lead to a significant reduction in the incidence of this arrhythmia," the authors conclude.

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