Drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently is linked with a higher likelihood of atrial fibrillation than binge drinking, says a new study. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder and raises the risk of stroke by five fold. Symptoms include palpitations, racing or irregular pulse, shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain and dizziness.
The analysis included 9,776,956 individuals without atrial fibrillation who underwent a national health check-up in 2009 which included a questionnaire about alcohol consumption. Participants were followed-up until 2017 for the occurrence of atrial fibrillation and the number of drinking sessions per week was the strongest risk factor for new-onset atrial fibrillation.
Compared with drinking twice per week (reference group), drinking every day was the riskiest, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.412, while drinking once a week was the least risky (HR 0.933).
Binge drinking did not show any clear link with new-onset atrial fibrillation.