Individual AFib Episodes Tied to Recent Alcohol Intake

Individual atrial fibrillation (AFib) episodes are associated with increased odds of recent alcohol consumption, according to a study published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Gregory M. Marcus, MD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a prospective, case-crossover analysis involving ambulatory patients with paroxysmal AF who were fitted with a continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor and ankle-worn transdermal ethanol sensor for four weeks. Participants self-recorded each alcoholic drink consumed using a button on the ECG device.

The researchers found that 56 of the 100 participants had at least one episode of AFib. An AFib episode was associated with increased odds of one alcoholic drink and at least two alcoholic drinks in the preceding four hours (odds ratios, 2.02 and 3.58, respectively). Associations were also seen for AF episodes with elevated odds of peak blood alcohol concentration (odds ratio, 1.38 per 0.1 percent increase in blood alcohol concentration) and total area under the curve of alcohol exposure (odds ratio, 1.14 per 4.7 percent increase in alcohol exposure).

“Alcohol consumption, documented objectively and in real time, substantially increased the risk for an AFib episode within a few hours,” the authors write. “These data show that the occurrence of AFib may be neither random nor completely unpredictable, but rather that identifiable, common, and even imminently modifiable exposures are associated with discrete AFib events.”

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