(HealthDay News) — Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a study published in the July 22 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues followed 79,019 men and women who, at baseline, were free from AF. All participants completed a questionnaire about alcohol consumption and other risk factors for chronic diseases. The Swedish Inpatient Register was used to ascertain incident AF cases.

The researchers found that from 1998–2009 there were 7,245 incident AF cases in the Swedish cohort. There were no differences in the association between alcohol consumption and AF by sex (P for interaction=0.74). The relative risks (RRs) of AF were 1.01 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.94–1.09) for 1–6 drinks/week; 1.07 (95% CI, 0.98–1.17) for 7–14 drinks/week; 1.14 (95% CI, 1.01–1.28) for 15–21 drinks/week; and 1.39 (95% CI, 1.22–1.58) for >21 drinks/week, compared with current drinkers of <1 drink/week (12g alcohol/drink). Using seven prospective studies (12,554 AF cases) in meta-analysis, the RRs were 1.08 for one drink/day; 1.17 for two drinks/day; 1.26 for three drinks/day; 1.36 for four drinks/day; and 1.47 for five drinks/day, vs. nondrinkers.

“These findings indicate that alcohol consumption, even at moderate intakes, is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation,” the authors write.

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