There is no doubt that alcohol and heart health are linked. So, you may be wondering if it’s safe for you.
While each person's case is different and it's best to speak with your doctor for personal guidance about drinking, several studies have found a connection between atrial fibrillation and alcohol consumption.
Can alcohol cause atrial fibrillation?
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, avoiding alcohol is a good way to help prevent atrial fibrillation if you already have one or more of the other risk factors for this common form of irregular heartbeat. Those other risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
In this study, atrial fibrillation risk increased the more the participants drank. Keep in mind that moderate drinking is considered one drink per day for women and two for men, according to Mayo Clinic. One twelve-ounce beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, or one shot of liquor is a single drink.
What risks are associated with binge drinking?
Binge drinking is consuming four or more drinks in a two-hour period for women and five or more drinks for men. Habitual binge drinking may raise the risk of developing atrial fibrillation by as much as 60 percent, according to Everyday Health. And atrial fibrillation isn't the only risk that goes up with binge drinking. The risk of high blood pressure, liver disease, pancreatitis, and certain cancers also goes up.
One five-ounce pour of wine is a single drink.
Know the risks for you
If you already have atrial fibrillation, there is no simple answer as to whether you should completely abstain from alcohol. There are reasons for caution, though. In addition to the risks above, for example, if you're on blood thinners, alcohol can raise the risk of bleeding.
It's also important to note whether an atrial fibrillation episode begins within an hour of drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a common trigger. According to the website Healthgrades, people with atrial fibrillation are more than four times more likely to have an episode during or after drinking than they are when not consuming alcohol. If this is the case for you, it could be best to completely avoid drinking altogether.
This may not be the answer you wanted to hear. But remember that your health—and the health of your heart—will help you continue to enjoy friends, family, and good times for years to come. Abstaining from alcohol might be your best way to live a longer, healthier life.