Blog | Tuesday, October 9, 2012

QD: News Every Day--Moderate drinking and binging associated with more atrial fibrillation


Moderate alcohol use is associated with more onset of atrial fibrillation, and binge drinking increases the risk to that of heavy alcohol use, a study found.

To learn more about any potential association between moderate drinking and the risk of atrial fibrillation, researchers assessed drinking habits by a questionnaire among than 30,000 adults ages 55 and older and a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes with organ damage who participated in two large antihypertensive drug treatment trials and who had no atrial fibrillation at baseline.

Drinking was defined as low for less than 1 drink per week; moderate for up to 2 drinks per day or 1 to 14 drinks per week for women and up to 3 drinks per day or 1 to 21 drinks for men; and high for more than 2 drinks and day for women and more than 3 drinks a day for men. Binge drinking was defined as more than 5 units of alcohol a day.

Results appeared online Oct. 1 at CMAJ.

There were 2,093 patients with atrial fibrillation. The incidence of atrial fibrillation per 1,000 person-years was 14.5 among low-level drinkers, 17.3 among moderate drinkers and 20.8 among high-level drinkers.

Higher levels of drinking had an increased risk of incident atrial fibrillation compared to low levels of drinking (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 1.26 for moderate consumption and HR, 1.32; 95% CI, 0.97 to 1.80, for high consumption).

Results were similar after binge drinkers were excluded. Among those with moderate alcohol consumption, binge drinkers had an increased risk of atrial fibrillation compared with non–binge drinkers (adjusted HR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.62).

Among moderate drinkers, the effect of binge drinking on the risk of atrial fibrillation was similar to that of habitual heavy drinking, researchers noted.