Moderate alcohol consumption linked to cardiac electrical changes in Afib

  • Heart Rhythm

  • curated by Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Regular, moderate alcohol intake (14 drinks/week) is tied to changes in left atrial voltage and conduction in patients with Afib.
  • Older age, female sex together with this level of consumption proved more important than obesity or hypertension as Afib risk factors.

Why this matters

  • Alcohol consumption is an important, modifiable Afib risk factor.
  • These authors identify electrophysiological associations of alcohol intake and changes in the left atrium.
  • Patients can be counseled about these effects.

Key results

  • Global bipolar voltages were lower among moderate vs nondrinkers:
    • 1.53±0.62 vs 1.89±0.45 mV (P=.02).
  • Conduction velocities likewise were slower:
    • 33.5±14.4 vs 41.7±12.1 cm/second (P=.04).
  • Vs nondrinkers, moderate drinkers also had a greater proportion of complex atrial potentials:
    • 7.8%±4.7% vs 4.5%±2.7% (P=.004).
  • Mild drinkers showed no differences from nondrinkers for bipolar voltages or conduction velocities but did also have a greater proportion of complex atrial potentials (P=.04)

Study design

  • n=75 with Afib, prior to ablation.
  • 25 nondrinkers, 25 mild intake (2-7 drinks/week), 25 moderate intake (8-21 drinks/week).
  • Voltage and propagation maps created.
  • Funding: Authors cite support from Australian government grants, industry, others. 

Limitations

  • In patients with existing Afib.
  • Observation, so confounding possible.
  • Small sample size.