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Can alcohol trigger atrial fibrillation?

Dr. Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Practitioner

Drinking too much alcohol at one time can lead to the development of arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation. It seems that drinking too much alcohol or binge drinking (having five drinks in two hours for men, or four drinks for women) affects the heart's electrical impulses. Some experts label this "holiday heart syndrome," when people get atrial fibrillation after a time of heavy drinking. But, over time, long-term alcohol drinking can lead to a condition called cardiomyopathy, which is a weakening or change in the structure of the heart muscle. With cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle is enlarged and the pumping function of the heart is weakened. Cardiomyopathy is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.