Daily alcoholic drinks can increase your risk for atrial fibrillation (AFib), according to a recent new study.
Heretofore, it was considered that binge drinking was more likely to increase your risks for contracting AFib.
Atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the heart beats irregularly. Common symptoms include an irregular or fast pulse, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and chest pain.
There are two main types of atrial fibrillation: valvular and non-valvular. Valvular AFib refers to atrial fibrillation that is caused by a heart valve problem. Examples include a narrow or leaking valve, or a valve repair or replacement.
Non-valvular AFib (sometimes called NVAF) refers to atrial fibrillation that is not caused by a heart valve problem. Non-valvular atrial fibrillation is the most common type of AFib.
According to the American Heart Association, more than 2.7 million people in the United States suffer from AFib. Many cases are not diagnosed as there are few symptoms.
Doctors believe there may be as many as 6 million people with AFib in the United States.. Whatever the actual number, the number of cases is expected to double by 2050.
The risk of AFib increases with age, along with other health conditions that are risk factors such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
It is difficult to know what causes AFib. However, it appears that damage to the heart’s electrical system is often to blame. This damage happens as a result of heart disease or as a complication of heart surgery.
Other conditions, such as chronic uncontrolled high blood pressure, can also affect the heart in this way.
One of the main effects of AFib is that it causes blood to pool in the lower chambers of the heart, which increases the likelihood of clotting.
And, blood clots are dangerous — they increase the risk to four or five times higher in people with AFib than in people without the condition.
Daily Alcoholic Drink: Study Results
Several studies found that AFib increases with increasing alcohol consumption. For example, for every 12 grams of alcohol — roughly the amount in a single drink — that a person consumed per week, there is an 8% higher risk of AFib.
But that study did not indicate whether consumption was daily or in a binge drinking session. It turns out that timing is a critical variable. Is is total consumption or the number of drinking episodes?
The effect of weekly alcohol consumption on AFib over a 10 year period was evaluated. They calculated alcohol intake by multiplying the number of drinking sessions per week by the amount of alcohol consumed in each session.
The results showed that the number of drinking sessions is associated with higher risk of developing AFib rather than one or two weekly sessions of binge drinking.
The researchers believe that consistent drinking leads to sleep disturbances and sleep deprivation. And, previous studies demonstrated a high risk of developing AFib in sleep deprived individuals.