Alcohol abstinence reduces AF recurrence in regular drinkers
Abstaining from alcohol reduces the recurrence of atrial fibrillation in regular drinkers.
Australia: Abstinence from alcohol reduced the recurrence of arrhythmia in regular drinkers with atrial fibrillation, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine has found.
Excessive consumption of alcohol is a known risk factor for atrial fibrillation -- an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by a rapid and irregular beating of the atria. However, the effect of abstinence from alcohol on secondary prevention of atrial fibrillation is unclear. Peter M. Kistler, Heart Center, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a multicenter, prospective, open-label, randomized, controlled trial at six hospitals in Australia to determine the effect of abstinence from alcohol on secondary prevention of atrial fibrillation
The study included 140 patients who consumed 10 or more standard drinks (with 1 standard drink containing approximately 12 g of pure alcohol) per week and who had paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation in sinus rhythm at baseline. They were randomly assigned in the ratio 1:1 to either abstain from alcohol (n=70) or continue their usual alcohol consumption (n=70).
The two primary endpoints were freedom from recurrence of atrial fibrillation (after a 2-week “blanking period”) and total atrial fibrillation burden (proportion of time in atrial fibrillation) during 6 months of follow-up.
Key findings of the study include:
- Patients in the abstinence group reduced their alcohol intake from 16.8±7.7 to 2.1±3.7 standard drinks per week (a reduction of 87.5%), and patients in the control group reduced their alcohol intake from 16.4±6.9 to 13.2±6.5 drinks per week (a reduction of 19.5%).
- After a 2-week blanking period, atrial fibrillation recurred in 37 of 70 patients (53%) in the abstinence group and in 51 of 70 patients (73%) in the control group.
- The abstinence group had a longer period before recurrence of atrial fibrillation than the control group (hazard ratio, 0.55).
- The atrial fibrillation burden over 6 months of follow-up was significantly lower in the abstinence group than in the control group (median percentage of time in atrial fibrillation, 0.5% vs. 1.2%).
Read Also: Frequent drinking poses greater risk for Atrial fibrillation than binge drinking: ESC
The study, "Alcohol Abstinence in Drinkers with Atrial Fibrillation," is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.