Stroke risk higher among alcohol drinkers with atrial fibrillation

By: Mohan Garikiparithi | Health News | Tuesday, September 06, 2016 - 11:00 AM

Stroke risk higher among alcohol drinkers with atrial fibrillationIndividuals with atrial fibrillation (heart rhythm disorder) who drink alcohol are more likely to experience stroke, compared to those who don’t drink. Study leader Dr. Faris Al-Khalili said, “Doctors should ask their [atrial fibrillation] patients about alcohol use and advise patients to cut down if they are drinking more than is recommended.”

The study included over 250,000 Swedish adults with atrial fibrillation, a known risk factor for stroke.

During the follow-up period of five years, the researchers uncovered two risk factors associated with a higher risk of stroke in atrial fibrillation patients: age and alcohol-related hospitalization.

Dr. Al-Khalili added, “Even though these patients are classified as low-risk, the incidence of ischemic stroke in our study population is neither negligible nor ignorable, and it carries a relatively high mortality. Our study found that alcohol is an independent risk factor for stroke in patients with [atrial fibrillation].”

How this relationship works is still unclear. The study doesn’t prove causality as it was observational.

“Using alcohol-related hospitalization as a proxy for alcohol abuse likely underestimates the extent of the problem, and does not allow grading of the amount of alcohol consumed,” added Dr. Al-Khalili.

The findings are still considered preliminary, until they are peer reviewed.

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