Is “Moderate” Alcohol Consumption Associated with an Increased Risk of Atrial Fibrillation in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease?
Previous research in the general population has suggested an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) in people who drink heavily. Results on the association with lower drinking amounts have not been consistent. This study analyzed the association between alcohol consumption and AF in subjects diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or other manifestations of cardiovascular disease (CVD) based on patient data from 2 large antihypertensive-drug treatment trials (N=30,433). Median follow-up was 56 months.
- Subjects who drank “moderate” amounts* had a higher risk of AF than those who drank light amounts,** although the risk of death during follow-up was lower for those who drank moderately (9.9%) compared with those who drank lightly (12.5%).
- Excluding subjects with heavy episodic drinking (>5 drinks per single occasion or per day on average), the risk of AF was 13% higher in subjects who drank moderately compared with those who drank lightly.
*Defined in this study as 1–21 drinks per week for men and 1–14 drinks per week for women (1 drink = 12–15 g alcohol).
**Less than 1 drink per week (reference category).