The association between alcohol and atrial fibrillation (AF) is well-established. We published a major review in the world’s leading cardiology journal, Journal of the American Cardiology, which clearly demonstrated a linear dose-response relationship between alcohol consumption and AF risk with an 8 per cent increase in AF risk per 1 drink/day increment in alcohol consumption. On 6 December 2016, this attracted major national and international exposure including front page of the Melbourne Age, TV news and up to 30 major news outlets in the USA, U.K. and Europe. We have been inundated with community interest in the study.
The review details proposed mechanisms for the association between moderate alcohol consumption and AF include increased interatrial electromechanical delay, shortening of atrial effective refractory period and altered vagal tone together with the confounders of hypertension, sleep disordered breathing and socioeconomic class. Recent Australian studies have focused attention on weight loss as a means of reducing AF burden. The majority of patients enrolled consumed minimal alcohol (less than 30 grams per week). To date, there have been no randomised prospective studies comparing total abstinence with ongoing mild-moderate alcohol consumption on AF burden.
The aims of this project are:
- To determine whether alcohol abstinence is associated with reduced incidence of AF in patients with mild-moderate alcohol consumption.
- To determine the mechanisms responsible for the 'holiday heart syndrome' which is the occurrence of AF following binge drinking, a common presentation to emergency departments around the world.