Alcohol Could Hike Risk of Irregular Heartbeat

Moderate to heavy male drinkers faced 25% to 46% greater risk of atrial fibrillation

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TUESDAY, Oct. 12, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Alcohol consumption could slightly increase a man's risk for developing a certain type of irregular heartbeat, suggests a report in the Oct. 11 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine.

Danish researchers found that moderate to heavy male drinkers had between a 25 percent to a 46 percent increase in risk for atrial fibrillation.

There was no similar increase in risk for female drinkers, the researchers said.

In atrial fibrillation, the heart's two small upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively, according to the American Heart Association. Blood isn't pumped completely out of the chambers, so it may pool and clot, possibly resulting in a stroke.

The research team from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark performed the study using 47,949 participants in the earlier Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study. They compared alcohol consumption with whether the participants later developed atrial fibrillation.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about atrial fibrillation.

SOURCES: The Archives of Internal Medicine, news release, Oct. 11, 2004

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