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Frequent Alcohol Consumption Linked to AF Risk

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 Oct 2019
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A new study reveals that people who imbibe small amounts of alcohol almost every day are more at risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF) than occasional binge drinkers.

Researchers at Korea University Anam Hospital (ANAM; Seoul, South Korea) and Korea University College of Medicine (KUCM; Seoul, South Korea) undertook a study involving 9,776,956 patients without AF who participated in a national health check-up program in order to evaluate the relative importance of frequent drinking, as compared to binge drinking. To do so, both drinking frequency (in days per week), alcohol consumption per drinking session (in grams), and alcohol consumption per week were reviewed.

The results revealed that compared to those who drink twice per week, once per week drinkers showed the lowest risk score, while those who drink everyday had the highest risk for new-onset AF. But the amount of alcohol intake per drinking session was not associated with risk of new-onset AF; only the frequency of drinking was significantly associated with risk. In contrast, when study participants were stratified by weekly alcohol intake (over 210 grams per week), those who drank large amounts of alcohol per drinking session showed a lower risk of new-onset AF.

The patients that drank every day had a 42% increased risk of new-onset AF, while those who drank once a week had a 10% reduction in the risk. When related to absolute increase in consumption, new-onset AF increased by 2% for each one gram/week increase in alcohol consumption. When classified by consumption amounts, non-drinkers had a risk increase of 8.7%, while moderate drinkers and high drinkers showed a 7.7% and a 21.5% increase, respectively, in the risk of AF, compared to those with a mild drinking habit. The study was published on October 17, 2019, in EP Europace.

“Increased risk in the group that drank most frequently was seen irrespective of age and sex differences. Thus this is the major risk factor for stroke associated with drinking, rather than binge-drinking,” said corresponding author Jong-Il Choi, MD, of ANAM and KUCM. “Repeated episodes of AF triggered by alcohol may lead to overt disease. In addition, drinking can provoke sleep disturbance, which is a known risk factor for AF. To prevent new-onset AF, both the frequency and weekly amount of alcohol consumption should be reduced.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO; Geneva, Switzerland), Alcohol is the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability among those aged 15 to 49 years, accounting for ten percent of all deaths in this age group. Disadvantaged and especially vulnerable populations have higher rates of alcohol-related death and hospitalization.

Related Links:
Korea University Anam Hospital
Korea University College of Medicine

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