Alcohol Ups Risk for Atrial Fibrillation Episode Hours Later
Consuming alcohol increases the risk for an atrial fibrillation (AF) episode hours later, according to a study published onlin in Annals of Internal Medicine. Modifying the drinking behavior of patients with a history of AF events could make a difference.

Patients' self-reports suggest that acute alcohol consumption may trigger a discrete atrial fibrillation (AF) event.

This study aimed to objectively ascertain whether alcohol consumption heightens risk for an AF episode.

Participants were fitted with a continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor and an ankle-worn transdermal ethanol sensor for 4 weeks. Real-time documentation of each alcoholic drink consumed was self-recorded using a button on the ECG recording device. Fingerstick blood tests for phosphatidylethanol (PEth) were used to corroborate ascertainments of drinking events.

-- Of 100 participants (mean age, 64 years [SD, 15]; 79% male; 85% White), 56 had at least 1 episode of AF.

-- Results of PEth testing correlated with the number of real-time recorded drinks and with events detected by the transdermal alcohol sensor.

-- An AF episode was associated with 2-fold higher odds of 1 alcoholic drink and greater than 3-fold higher odds of at least 2 drinks in the preceding 4 hours.

-- Episodes of AF were also associated with higher odds of peak blood alcohol concentration and the total area under the curve of alcohol exposure (OR, 1.14 per 4.7% increase in alcohol exposure) inferred from the transdermal ethanol sensor in the preceding 12 hours.

Conclusively, individual AF episodes were associated with higher odds of recent alcohol consumption, providing objective evidence that a modifiable behavior may influence the probability that a discrete AF event will occur.