Drinking small amounts of alcohol on a regular basis may increase the risk of an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, says a new research.

The results of the research were published December 5 in the journal of the American College of Cardiology.

While several studies have said light alcohol consumption increases better heart health for some people, the new research suggests that this may not apply to atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is said to boost the risk of heart-related problems and stroke.

The authors of the new study reviewed prior research that tracked almost 900,000 people over 12 years and found that the risk of atrial fibrillation grew by 8 percent for each daily alcoholic drink.

“The results are significant, since chances are, there are people who are consuming one to two glasses of alcohol per day that may not realize they are putting themselves at risk for irregular heartbeat,” said Peter  Kistler, study lead author and head of clinical electrophysiology research at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia.

“There has been a lot of attention in recent years about the benefits of drinking small amounts of alcohol for the heart,” Kistler said in a journal news release.

“While moderate amounts of alcohol appear protective for the ‘plumbing,’ or blood supply to the heart muscle, the benefits of alcohol do not extend to the electrical parts of the heart, or heartbeat,” he said.

Kristler added that “even though we do not have randomized data that tells us what a ‘safe’ amount is to consume, people with an irregular heartbeat should probably drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day with two alcohol-free days a week”.

The authors noted that more research is needed to determine whether patients with an abnormal heartbeat should completely ditch alcohol.



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