Acute alcohol use while on vacation, special events can lead to episodes of AF

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January 12, 2022

3 minutes to read

Source / Disclosures

Disclosures: Marcus claims to have been a co-founder, to have been a consultant and to own shares in InCarda Therapeutics and to have been part of a steering committee for a randomized trial for Johnson & Johnson.


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According to data published in Nature Cardiovascular research.

Gregory M. Marcus

Identifying the exposures or modifiable behaviors that immediately influence the onset of an AF episode could help prevent disease-associated morbidity, Gregory M. Marcus, MD, MAS, deputy chief of cardiology for research and endowed professor of atrial fibrillation research at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues wrote in the context of the study. Investigating the relationships between acute alcohol use and individual episodes of AF has historically proven difficult, given the need for real-time data linking alcohol use and discrete episodes of AF.

alcohol bottles with man silhouette
Source: Adobe Stock

“These data demonstrate that immediate alcohol consumption as a predictor of a given atrial fibrillation episode is not only relevant for some individuals, but is demonstrable at the population level with significant effects on overall use. health care, ”Marcus told Healio. “This research also provides objective evidence that acute alcohol consumption leads to initial episodes of atrial fibrillation in people without prior evidence of the disease.”

Assessment of blood alcohol data

Marcus and his colleagues analyzed time and date specific blood alcohol content data collected from 2014 to 2016 from 36,158 clients (18,833 residing in the United States) using a commercially available breathalyzer compatible with Bluetooth (BACtrack). Researchers identified eight recurrent and nationally recognized events associated with increased alcohol consumption: Researchers determined that breathalyzer users consumed more alcohol than usual on eight public holidays or days. recurring national events: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, the Super Bowl. Sunday, daylight saving time, July 4th, Christmas, FIFA World Cup and Father’s Day. Using the events as instrumental variables, the researchers assessed emergency room visits for AF in California, using Poisson regression models to compare rates of AF and newly-onset AF during and 6 days after the events. of instrumental variables.

“In the large general population encompassing all Californians, we wanted to test the hypothesis that during the dates and events that we first identified as being associated with high alcohol consumption among users of breathalyzer, we would also see more [ED] visits for atrial fibrillation, ”Marcus said in a press release. “This would imply that there is an almost immediate relationship between excessive alcohol consumption and more atrial fibrillation in the population.”

Within the cohort, the median blood alcohol concentration was 0.04%; users obtained a median of 4.06 readings per year.

After adjusting for the calendar day of the week and calendar month and taking into account age, sex and race, there were over 700 additional emergency room visits for AF per 100,000 person-years among the population. general population of California during and shortly after events identified by instrumental variables associated with more alcohol consumption (P = .008).

“After the same multivariate adjustment, statistically significantly more AF was observed during each of the many individual events associated with increased alcohol consumption,” the researchers wrote.

“Think about the risk”

A negative control analysis examining another common heart rhythm problem – supraventricular tachycardia – did not reveal the same relationships, suggesting a unique association between alcohol and AF risk, Marcus said.

“These findings have implications for anyone who decides to drink heavily, which suggests they should consider the risk that such exposure could lead to a life-changing episode of arrhythmia,” Marcus told Healio . “A randomized trial comparing light drinking to abstinence is needed to understand the clear effects, with perhaps some benefits and some risks, of drinking alcohol in moderation. There is no doubt that excessive alcohol consumption is harmful overall, with atrial fibrillation now one of the most rigorously studied adverse consequences among many.

Other analyzes have suggested that alcohol consumption may increase the risk of AF. As Healio previously reported, a study published in European Heart Journal in February 2021 showed that just one alcoholic drink per day can confer a high risk of developing AF, regardless of age and other CV risk factors.

For more information:

Gregory M. Marcus, MD, MAS, can be contacted at [email protected]; Twitter: @gregorymmarcus.

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