If you enjoy your glass of chardonnay at happy hour or a beer on a hot day, you’re not alone. Many of us drink alcohol in moderation, but how much does it affect your health? You don’t necessarily have to abstain completely, but a recent study proved that you can reduce atrial fibrillation and risk of stroke by limiting alcohol.
Atrial fibrillation is a quivering or irregular heartbeat. It is the most common form of arrhythmia where the heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or irregularly. Someone with Afib may have shortness of breath, heart palpitations and feelings of weakness.
If you live with AFib, you have an increased risk of having a stroke since AFib can cause clotting.
Studies Confirm The Link Between Alcohol And AFib
Alcohol is a diuretic which helps the body eliminate fluids. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to dehydration which stresses your organs, depletes valuable minerals, and triggers AFib.
Two studies confirm reducing alcohol helps to control AFib. One recent study looked at 140 adults with 85% being male. They all had persistent or recurrent atrial fibrillation and drank 17 drinks per week or 2 -3 per day.
They were split into two groups with the first one told to abstain completely from alcohol and the second one to drink as normal. The abstinence group reduced their alcohol consumption by 87% or instead of having 17 drinks a week, they had 2.
The other group actually reduced their consumption as well by 20%. They all recorded a 30 second ECG two times per day to determine AFib.
After six months, the probability of AFib was 45% lower with the abstinence group.
Findings and Recommendations From Studies
If you enjoy social drinking, you don’t have to become a teetotaler.
Drinking less frequently is better than drinking less every day. Having a daily drink is associated with a higher risk for AFib than drinking twice a week, and so on.
Another surprising finding confirmed that daily consumption is worse than binge drinking.
Recommendations include the following:
- Have Drink-Free days during the week. Moderate drinking every day can contribute to AFib, whereas having two to three “dry days” is better. It helps to reduce stress on the liver and heart.
- Keep tabs on your blood pressure. Alcohol increases your bp.
- Skip the nightcap. Having a drink right before bed may relax you, but it can keep you awake later.
- If you are a moderate drinker and have AFib, reducing your alcohol intake should be a lifestyle goal.
Contact New Jersey Cardiology Associates for an evaluation of atrial fibrillation and your risk for a stroke. We have cardiology clinics in Belleville, West Orange, Toms River, and Clifton. Fill out our secure online online form to schedule an appointment today.