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WARNING: Too Much Alcohol Could Increase the Risk of Fatal Heart Conditions

Jan 03, 2017 04:55 AM EST
Alcohol Abuse
Excessive consumption linked to increased risk of atrial fibrillation, heart attack and congestive heart failure.
(Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A new study revealed that excessive consumption of alcohol could not only lead to liver damage, but can also increase the risk of fatal heart condition, including, heart attack, congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed a connection between alcohol abuse and the leading cause of death in the United States. This suggests that reducing alcohol abuse could result to significant reduction in the risk of heart disease.

"We found that even if you have no underlying risk factors, abuse of alcohol still increases the risk of these heart conditions," said Gregory M. Marcus, MD, director of clinical research in the Division of Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco and lead researcher of the study, in a press release. "We were somewhat surprised to find those diagnosed with some form of alcohol abuse were at significantly higher risk of a heart attack."

For the study, the researchers analyzed the data of 14.7 million patients from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project database. Among the patients included in the database, 1.8 percent, or approximately 268,000, had been diagnosed with alcohol abuse.

After taking into account several well-established risk factor of heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and diabetes, the researchers found that alcohol abuse was associated with a 2-fold increased risk of atrial fibrillation, 1.4-fold increased risk of heart attack and 2.3-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure.

The researchers estimated that complete eradication of alcohol abuse could lead to over 73,000 fewer atrial fibrillation cases, 34,000 fewer heart attacks, and 91,000 fewer patients with congestive heart failure in the U.S.

Their findings were somewhat negate previous researches showing the ability of daily alcohol consumption to protect people against heart attack and congestive heart failure. The researchers noted that the previous studies were what are called as cohort studies. The researchers commented that cohort studies include defined populations. It tends to recruit stable, cooperative and health-conscious participants inclined to healthier lifestyles. Due to this, cohort studies have minimal participation by true alcohol users. This make the present study to likely present a more valid representations of the outcomes of excessive alcohol consumption.

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