Study shows that people with atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder that causes palpitations, should be careful to watch their alcohol intake. Because above a certain number of glasses per week, complications such as stroke can occur.

Alcohol has immediate effects which depend mainly on the blood alcohol level but also long term effects. Thus, consuming too much alcohol daily causes an increase in the level of triglycerides in the blood and promotes weight gain and abdominal obesity, two factors involved in the development of atherosclerotic plaques, and also promotes the occurrence of arterial hypertension. A recent study by researchers at Yonsei University College of Medicine and published in EP Europace, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology, warns people with atrial fibrillation about the risks of drinking too much.

For these patients, the researchers estimated that fourteen drinks per week are linked to a higher risk of health problems, including stroke and embolism (a blockage of an artery in the lungs, the more often by a blood clot). “Our study suggests that patients with atrial fibrillation should avoid excessive alcohol consumption to prevent strokes and other complications,” says study lead author Dr. Boyoung Joung. Atrial (or atrial) fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder, one of the most common, which makes the heart speed up and make it beat irregularly.

 Stroke, embolism ... several types of inderisable events identified

This can occur in episodes, which sometimes last several days, between which the rhythm of the heart is regular or permanent (the irregularity of the heart contractions is then constant). The study involved 9,411 patients with atrial fibrillation from 18 different hospitals covering all geographic regions of South Korea. Patients were classified into four groups based on their weekly alcohol consumption (one drink containing 14 grams of alcohol): abstinent / rare (0 grams / less than one drink), light (less than 100 grams / 7 glasses), moderate (100 to 200 grams / 7 to 14 glasses) and heavy (200 grams / 14 glasses or more).

 A total of 7,455 of the participants (79.2% of the panel) were classified as abstinent / rare, 795 patients (8.4%) as "mild", 345 patients (3.7%) as "moderate" and 816 patients (8.7%) as having heavy alcohol consumption. All of these people were followed for 17.4 months to see the possible appearance of several types of adverse events: a stroke, a transient ischemic attack (transient interruption of blood flow in part of the brain) an embolism or hospitalization for control of atrial fibrillation or due to heart failure (inability of the heart to propel blood normally).

All cases, even mild, are vulnerable to this risk

  The researchers recorded the number of patients who experienced one of these events and calculated the incident rate (number of events per 100 person-years). They found that the incident rates were 6.73 for rare / sober drinkers, 5.77 for light drinkers, 6.44 for moderate drinkers, and 9.65 for heavy drinkers. They then compared the risk of adverse events in light, moderate and heavy drinkers versus drinkers in the “abstain / rare” group. »In fact, heavy alcohol consumption was associated with a 32% increased risk compared to the latter but no association was observed for light or moderate consumption.  

 According to Dr. Boyoung Joung, “The study found no association between light or moderate alcohol consumption and complications. But a significant deleterious relationship with heavy alcohol consumption has been identified, suggesting that excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided. Subgroup analyzes showed that the impact of excessive alcohol consumption was more pronounced in patients at low risk of stroke than in those at moderate or high risk. Likewise, heavy alcohol consumption was associated with a greater likelihood of adverse outcomes in patients without high blood pressure compared to those with it.

A surprising finding, but which suggests that excessive alcohol consumption is very detrimental to patients with atrial fibrillation considered to be less "vulnerable" to complications. This is why, in their conclusions, the researchers recommend that clinicians be sure to “properly ask patients about their alcohol consumption and take this into account in their stroke risk calculations. "For its part, the Health Insurance recommends that patients follow their treatment well and develop a suitable lifestyle: do not smoke, avoid overweight, favor a balanced diet and moderate alcohol consumption, considered an exciting cardiac.