A recent study, published in the European Heart Journal, shows that even a small drink a day can cause atrial fibrillation in people.
Atrial fibrillation is the irregular or rapid heartbeat that causes poor blood flow, stroke, fatigue, dizziness and even heart failure. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention United States, atrial fibrillation contributes to about 158,000 deaths annually.
The study revealed that people who consumed even 12g of ethanol equivalent to 120ml glass of wine, 330ml of beer and 40ml of spirits had a 16 per cent increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation. Two drinks raised the risk to 28 per cent and four drinks daily to 47 per cent.
The research included around 100,092 participants who did not have atrial fibrillation at the beginning of the study. The participants, consisting of both men and women, ranging from age 24-97 were observed for about 14 years time period. They underwent medical examinations and provided information regarding their lifestyle and alcohol consumption in this period. The researchers found that 5854 people among the participants developed atrial fibrillation during the time of the study.
Professor Renate Schnabel, a consultant cardiologist at the University Heart and Vascular Center, at Hamburg-Eppendorf (Germany) who led the study said, "To our knowledge, this is the largest study on alcohol consumption and the long-term incidence of atrial fibrillation in the community. In our study, we can now demonstrate that even very low regular alcohol consumption may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation."
The study suggests that lowering alcohol consumption is significant in the prevention and management of atrial fibrillation and it is best to completely avoid drinking to protect cardiovascular health.