A study from Denmark suggests alcohol consumption may increase men's risk of developing atrial fibrillation - an irregular heartbeat. In their follow up study of 22,528 men and 25,421 women (average age 56 years), Dr Lars Frost and Dr Peter Vestergaard, from Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, found a modest increase in the risk of atrial fibrillation or flutter that corresponded with increasing alcohol consumption in men, but not women.
The study, which recruited over three and a half years and followed up the group after an average of 5.7 years, involved patients from the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study. Reported in The Archives of Internal Medicine (Oct. 2004) the authors found that the average consumption of alcohol per day was 28.2 grams for men and 13.9 grams for women. More than half of the women consumed less than one unit of alcohol per day, or less than 10 grams of alcohol. The percentage of men and women who were abstainers at the beginning of the study was 2.1 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.
Consumption Increases Atrial Fibrillation Risk
During the follow-up period (average of approximately 5.7 years), 556 participants developed atrial fibrillation (including 374 men [1.7 percent] and 182 women [0.7 percent]). There was a modest increase in risk of atrial fibrillation that corresponded with increasing alcohol consumption in men, but not among women.
Compared to men who drank the least amount of alcohol (first quintile), men in the second, third, fourth and fifth quintiles (increasing alcohol consumption), had a 4 percent increase in risk, 44 percent increase in risk, 25 percent increase in risk and 46 percent increase in risk for atrial fibrillation, respectively.
Compared to women in the lowest quintile of alcohol consumption, women in the second, third, fourth and fifth quintiles had a nine percent increase in risk, 27 percent increase in risk, 23 percent increase in risk and 14 percent increase in risk, respectively.
"Consumption of alcohol was associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation or flutter in men," the researchers write. "In women, moderate consumption of alcohol did not seem to be associated with risk of atrial fibrillation or flutter."
Article source: Dr Lars Frost, Dr Peter Vestergaard Aarhus University Hospital Denmark. Reported in The Archives of Internal Medicine October 2004