HealthDay News — In regular drinkers with atrial fibrillation, abstinence from alcohol reduces arrhythmia recurrences, according to a study published in the Jan. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Aleksandr Voskoboinik, M.B., B.S., Ph.D., from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a prospective trial at six hospitals in Australia involving 140 adults who consumed 10 or more standard drinks per week and who had paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation in sinus rhythm at baseline. Participants were randomly assigned to abstain from alcohol or continue their usual alcohol consumption.

The researchers found that participants in the abstinence and control groups reduced their alcohol intake from 16.8 ± 7.7 to 2.1 ± 3.7 standard drinks per week (87.5 percent reduction) and from 16.4 ± 6.9 to 13.2 ± 6.5 (19.5 percent reduction), respectively. After a two-week blanking period, atrial fibrillation recurred in 53 and 73 percent of patients in the abstinence and control groups, respectively. Compared with the control group, the abstinence group had a longer period before atrial fibrillation recurrence (hazard ratio, 0.55). During six months of follow-up, the atrial fibrillation burden was significantly lower in the abstinence group versus the control group (median percentage of time in atrial fibrillation, 0.5 versus 1.2 percent).

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“The present study, with participants having an average intake of approximately 17 drinks per week at baseline, suggests that consumption at these levels may contribute to atrial fibrillation,” the authors write.

Alive Technologies provided a discount for AliveCor Kardia Mobile electrocardiogram monitors used in the study.

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