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Last Updated: May 20, 2007 - 10:48:48 AM
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Heavy drinking may trigger stroke
May 11, 2007 - 10:10:15 AM
Excessive drinking, however, was much higher in patients with atrial fibrillation than in patients without -.

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[RxPG] London, May 11 - Heavy liquor drinking may trigger a dangerous heart condition that can trip off a stroke or heart failure - but reducing alcohol consumption even a little bit makes a big difference, say British scientists.

Raising a glass too often could put the drinkers at risk for atrial fibrillation, a dangerous heart condition that can cause a stroke or heart failure, said Joe Martins, a doctor and lead author of the study and a cardiologist at the Imperial College, London.

However, drinking in moderation is safe and does not significantly increase the chances of developing atrial fibrillation -, Martins said.

'Atrial fibrillation is the most common irregular heart rhythm. AF is becoming an increasing public health burden,' Martins said. 'It is associated with a five-fold increased risk of stroke, a three-fold risk of heart failure and up to a two-fold increase risk of death.'

For this study, all patients arriving at an arrhythmia clinic at Charing Cross Hospital in London with symptoms of a new cardiac arrhythmia were asked about their weekly alcohol consumption, reported health portal Health Central.

Participants were grouped according to how much they drank: teetotaller -, moderate drinkers - and excessive -. In the study, two units were about equal to one pint of beer.

Those with confirmed atrial fibrillation were then compared to those without the irregular heartbeat - about half - of people in each group were moderate drinkers, suggesting no increase in risk.

Excessive drinking, however, was much higher in patients with atrial fibrillation than in patients without -.

In fact, these heavy drinkers raised their risk of atrial fibrillation by two percent for each additional unit they drank compared to non-drinkers. However, the researchers said cutting down on drinking could lower the risk.

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