Things can get confusing when it comes to drinking. You know that too much is certainly harmful, but you’re also exposed to repeated messaging that moderate intake might be good for your heart.
The idea that light or moderate alcohol consumption is good for you comes largely from some observational studies that have found red wine helps promote circulation.
Red wine, as you may know by now, is a good source of antioxidants.
However, doctors stop short of telling non-drinkers they should start drinking to achieve these potential, albeit nominal, benefits.
But new research seems to be saying that even light or moderate drinking can pose a danger, particularly for people with atrial fibrillation, or A-fib.
A-fib is a common type of heart arrhythmia that leads to a fast and irregular heartbeat. Although it is not immediately life-threatening, it may boost the risk of a heart attack or stroke over time.
A new study published in the European Heart Journal shows moderate drinking—up to two drinks per day—can substantially boost the risk for A-fib.
Researchers looked at 100,000 European adults with no history of the condition. They found a correlation between new cases and alcohol consumption. A-fib’s risk went up by double digits with just one drink per day, and jumped substantially with each successive drink.
Here’s how alcohol consumption affected A-fib risk compared to non/never drinkers:
- People who had one drink per day were 16 percent more likely to develop A-fib.
- Two drinks per day led to a 35 percent greater risk.
- Three drinks per day increased risk by 52 percent.
The researchers emphasized their findings did not prove cause and effect; however, they do support other work looking at alcohol consumption and A-fib.
If you enjoy red wine in moderation, you’ve got a choice to make: potentially run the risk of A-fib or potentially reduce blood pressure. If you have A-fib already, you might want to reconsider cutting alcohol intake to one or two drinks per week.
Alcohol, of course, is not the only factor in heart health. Doing as much as you can to protect your heart is recommended.