Alcohol is one of the widely consumed beverages across the globe with average annual alcohol consumption of 6.4 liters per person older than 15.
There have been mixed opinions about the effects of alcohol on the vital organs of our body such as the heart, kidneys, etc.
However, the latest study on the effects of alcohol intake on the cardiac rhythms published on August 30 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, strongly claims about the pitfalls of alcohol consumption with accurate research backing it.
What was the Study?
There has been a long suspicion on the connection between alcohol and atrial fibrillation but there were no valid shreds of evidence. The researchers in the latest study recruited 100 people with a history of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.
The scientists monitored their alcohol intake and their cardiac rhythms in real-time, for four intense weeks.
The people recruited for the study had to wear electrocardiogram monitors to track their cardiac rhythms around the clock. The device also had a button that participants were told to press whenever they consume an alcoholic beverage.
The scientists also fitted them with special ankle monitors to detect their blood alcohol levels.
The participants also had to go through routine finger-stick blood tests that measured the participants’ levels of phosphatidyl ethanol (PEth). It is a biomarker that tells about a person’s recent alcohol consumption.
By rigorously studying 100 participants, the researchers found that at least 56 participants had experienced atrial fibrillation.
What does the Study say?
The data collected from the study indicated that alcohol was often a trigger for arrhythmias.
The researchers found the alcohol consumption intensified the chances of a person having an episode of atrial fibrillation, or an abnormal cardiac rhythm, to an extent that even one drink doubled the odds of a person having an episode of atrial fibrillation while having two or more drinks tripled the chances in the next few hours.
It indicated that as the levels of alcohol in the blood increased, it heightened the chances of a person having an arrhythmia.
An author of the study and a professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of California, Dr. Gregory Marcus said, “This demonstrates that whenever we consume alcohol, it is presumably having a nearly immediate effect on the electrical workings of our hearts.”
Cardiac arrhythmia is associated with the improper beating of the heart either too slow or too fast. It is often caused due to the improper working of the electrical impulses that coordinate our heartbeats.
Most of the arrhythmias don’t pose any serious threat, but at few incidents, they may turn fatal because of the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the body due to either too slow or irregular beating.
Dr. Marcus at UCSF said that the outcomes of the study have potential significance for people with atrial fibrillation. He suggested a way for them to control a critical trigger for arrhythmia.
He explained that there were modifiable factors that could be harnessed to bring down the odds of the occurrence of the event.
Although every alcohol drinker would not catch up with heart disease, the study proves that alcohol can interfere with the electrical properties of the heart, and the findings could empower people with a history of atrial fibrillation by serving as a caution against unrestricted careless drinking for them.