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British researches have detected a correlation between drinking excessively and an increased risk for atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that can trigger stroke or heart failure.

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Heavy Drinking Linked to Irregular Heart Rhythm

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Heavy Drinking Linked to Irregular Heart Rhythm

JoinTogether.org

Monday, May 14, 2007 British researches have detected a correlation between drinking excessively and an increased risk for atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that can trigger stroke or heart failure, HealthDay News reported May 10.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society, found that reducing alcohol consumption, even slightly, can make a major difference. Atrial fibrillation is the most common irregular heart rhythm and affects an estimated 5.1 million Americans, according to a recent study that appeared in the journal Circulation.

"Drinking in moderation …is safe and does not significantly increase the chances of developing new atrial fibrillation (AF)," said Dr. Joe Martins, lead study author and a cardiologist at the Imperial College, London. "However, drinking in excess of this was strongly associated with an increased probability of developing new AF."

For the study, researchers surveyed patients arriving at an arrhythmia clinic at Charing Cross Hospital in London about their weekly alcohol consumption. Excessive drinking was found to be much higher in patients with AF than in patients without AF (27% vs. 17%, respectively).

AF has been linked to binge drinking in the past, according to the study authors. Experts say that drinking has also been associated with cardiac disease.

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