Binge drinking linked to heart rhythm disorder, study finds

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In a new study from UC San Francisco, researchers found more alcohol drinking is associated with more emergency room visits for atrial fibrillation, an often-deadly heart rhythm disorder.

They found alcohol consumption in the general population is associated with a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, among individuals never previously diagnosed with the condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AF contributes to approximately 158,000 U.S. deaths each year.

It is a major cause of stroke, as blood clots can form inside fibrillation-prone atria, the upper chambers of the heart.

About 12 million people in the U.S. have AF, with steadily increasing numbers of individuals diagnosed over the past two decades.

In the new study, the scientists analyzed data without individual identifiers from 36,158 people from all states and 59 countries.

These people used a commercially available, Bluetooth-enabled breathalyzer device—a total of 1,269,054 breath alcohol measurements.

The researchers found the users consumed more alcohol than usual on eight different holidays or days of recurrent national events: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Super Bowl Sunday, initiation of daylight-saving time, July 4, Christmas, FIFA World Cup and Father’s Day.

They found that there was a much higher number of hospital visits for AF when all those empirically identified events were compared to all other days of the year.

The results remained significant when comparing all other days of the year versus each of the following events alone: New Year’s Day, initiation of Daylight Savings time, Super Bowl Sunday, and Christmas.

They also found the greatest association between acute alcohol drinking and hospital visits for AF among those over age 65.

In addition, the researchers identified an even greater percentage increase in hospital visits for AF among those not previously diagnosed with AF.

According to the team, the study suggests that many new cases of AF are triggered specifically by acute alcohol consumption.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about what to eat if you have a heart rhythm problem, and drugs for weight loss, inflammation that could prevent heart attack, stroke.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about 15 foods for a healthy heart, and results showing that vitamin C may help treat heart rhythm problems.

The study is published in Nature Cardiovascular Research. One author of the study is Gregory Marcus, MD, MAS.

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