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The Link Between Alcohol Consumption and Irregular Heartbeat

Having an irregular heartbeat can usually be categorized as atrial fibrillation. This is a condition in which the upper and lower chambers of the heart (the atria and ventricles), do not pump blood in coordination with each other. This usually results in a rapid heartbeat that is categorized as atrial fibrillation. In some cases, patients realize that they may have a heart condition, but in many cases, people may have a complication and are not aware of it. Often, this complication is only revealed when an examination of the heart is conducted.
In a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) it was reported that “moderate habitual drinking” may cause an irregular heartbeat [1]. The study acknowledged that, in small amounts, alcohol consumption it is known to have some positive effects on health; however, it is well-known that consuming a large amount of alcohol has many negative health effects. Using this as a standard, the researchers conducted a new analysis which concluded that moderate, habitual drinking does not have the same protective effects when it comes to the heart.
Furthermore, the study concluded that with the increase of one drink consumed each day on average, “the risk of atrial fibrillation increase[es] by 8 percent” [1]. Possible justifications for this phenomenon include:

  • Cell damage caused by the consumption of alcohol could have an effect on the fibrous tissue that is contained within the heart
  • If the patients have been treated for heart complications before, the consumption of alcohol poses a greater risk of creating an irregular heartbeat
  • Consumption of alcohol changes the rhythm in which the heart beats. Therefore, an increase in daily consumption of alcohol causes irregular heart rhythms
  • Alcohol consumption can have effects on the autonomic nervous system. This part of the nervous system controls the body’s heart rate, digestion, temperature and reflex responses. Furthermore, the stimulation of this system could lead to an irregular heartbeat.

[1] Moderate Drinking May Cause Irregular Heartbeat. Sandoiu, Ana. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314539.php

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