According to recent studies, even a moderate amount of alcohol takes its toll on heart health. Drinking alcohol, even in smaller quantities, contributes to increasing the size of the left atrium in the heart.
The left atrium is one of the four chambers of the heart. It is the left upper chamber, along with the right atrium. When it grows, a person can risk developing an irregular heartbeat, which is called atrial fibrillation. This, in turn, can lead to a host of heart problems, including stroke.
This study goes against the popular belief that moderate alcohol intake has benefits for the heart’s health. Drinking too much alcohol is known to damage the heart on the long term and it does cause atrial fibrillation.
The report was compiled by a team of researchers, led by Dr. David McManus. Dr.McManus is a director of Atrial Fibrillation Treatment Program from the UMass Memorial Health Care in Massachusetts.
Previous research has also pointed to the association between alcohol consumption and atrial fibrillation. The link was unclear until now.
According to recent findings, published yesterday in the American Heart Association journal, the link has been proven to exist.
Researchers analyzed data from over 5,200 people enrolled in a large scale heart study. This is an ongoing observation, which started in 1948. It aims to find the risk factors for heart disease. Those who took part in the study were Framingham, Massachusetts inhabitants.
Those who took part in the study reported how much alcohol they consumed weekly, on average. They took imaging tests to measure their hearts and were tested for atrial fibrillation.
When the study started, most participants were around the age of 56. Researchers followed their evolution for six years.
Over the duration of the study, researchers found that for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed daily, the left atrium grew in diameter by 0.16 millimeters (or 0.006 inches).
Drinking two glasses a day or more increases the risk for stroke because it inundates the heart with blood. Clots can form and reach the brain, causing a stroke.
Other conditions because of alcohol consumption are kidney failure, liver damage, or heart failure.
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