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Does moderate drinking increase the risk of atrial fibrillation?

Evidence suggests that excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), but the effect of light-moderate alcohol consumption is less certain. A study investigated the association between alcohol consumption within recommended limits and AF risk in a light-drinking population.

47,002 participants with information on alcohol consumption were included in a population-based cohort study in Norway, conducted from October 2006 to June 2008. 1,697 validated AF diagnoses were registered during the 8 years of follow-up. Cox proportional hazard models with fractional polynomials were used to analyse the association between alcohol intake and AF.

Population attributable risk for drinking within the recommended limit (ie, at most 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men without risky drinking) compared with nondrinking was also calculated. The average alcohol intake was 3.8±4.8 g/d. The adjusted hazard ratio for AF was 1.38 (95% confidence interval, 1.06-1.80) when participants consuming >7 drinks per week were compared with abstainers. When the quantity of alcohol intake as a continuous variable was modelled, the risk increased in a curvilinear manner. It was higher with heavier alcohol intake, but there was virtually no association at < 1 drink per day for women and < 2 drinks per day for men in the absence of risky drinking. The population attributable risk among non-risky drinkers was 0.07% (95% confidence interval, -0.01% to 0.13%).

Although alcohol consumption was associated with a curvilinearly increasing risk of AF in general, the attributable risk of alcohol consumption within recommended limits among participants without binge or problem drinking was negligible in this population.

Source: Does moderate drinking increase the risk of atrial fibrillation? The Norwegian HUNT (Nord-Trøndelag Health) study. Gemes K; Malmo V; Laugsand LE; Loennechen JP; Ellekjaer H; Laszlo KD; Ahnve S; Vatten LJ; Mukamal KJ; Janszky I. Journal of the American Heart Association, Vol 6, No 10, 2017, Art No e007094, 9pp.

 
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