Traditionally, liver disease has long been associated with chronic alcoholism. But it is important to understand that excessive drinking can have negative repercussions on many parts of your body, including your brain, your nervous system and, just as importantly, your heart. That’s part of the reason that the American Heart Association has released some new warnings related to alcohol abuse; particularly an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation, commonly known as AFib, is defined as an irregular heartbeat that leads to blood clots, stroke and other life-threatening complications. Apparently consuming even a moderate amount of alcohol can create this issue, as some global studies have pointed out.
The data, which was collected from research across Europe, looked at men and women over a 28-year period. All were labeled “casual to heavy drinkers” and nearly all developed AFib by the first decade of the study. And it’s important to point out that even the “lighter drinkers” showed these proclivities. Those who drank an average of just one alcoholic beverage per day showed a 16 percent increase in atrial fibrillation (versus those who abstained).
Not surprisingly, the more people from this group drank, the higher the probability became for AFib issues. Two beverages per day were linked to a 28 percent increase and people who consumed more than four faced a 47 percent increased risk. And for the record, these trends were observed with all variations of alcohol, be it beer, wine or spirits.
It is worth noting that this research contradicts earlier reports about wine, which had once been listed as being beneficial for the heart. That is a misnomer, claims study co-author Renate Schnabel. And in his mind, it is important to get that message out there.
“In conclusion, we were surprised that neither overall alcohol consumption—nor wine consumption in particular—were protective [of AFib] if consumed at low doses because they have been reported to be protective against, for example, heart attack,” Schnabel, explained. “However, earlier reports already suggested that there may not be a beneficial effect for atrial fibrillation, but did not have enough power to examine very low regular alcohol consumption. Our large study could now demonstrate that there may not be a threshold below which alcohol consumption may be protective.”
The truth of the matter is, alcohol is simply not good for the body no matter how publicity campaigns try to spin it. And, as we all know, it can be highly addictive. If you ask us, the best scenario is to abstain entirely or, if you think you may have a problem, reach out and work towards getting sober.