Every drink sinks the heart
EVEN moderate drinking damages the heart, a study reveals.
As few as five glasses of wine a week can produce greater signs of scarring and abnormal heart rhythms that raise the risk of strokes, experts suggest.
So-called atrial fibrillation (AF) – rapid and irregular heartbeat – is known to be caused by excessive drinking. But researchers also found a worrying impact from moderate drinking – as little as a weekly intake of five 175ml glasses of wine or five pints of beer at 4% strength.
AF occurs when abnormal electrical impulses override the heart’s natural pacemaker, which can no longer control the rhythm of the organ. The condition puts patients at a greater risk of strokes because blood might not be pumped out of the heart properly, causing it to pool and clot.
Researchers at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne tested the hearts of 75 patients who had AF over two years.
There were 25 patients in each of three categories: lifelong non-drinkers, mild drinkers and moderate drinkers. Patients consuming the equivalent of about four glasses of wine a week were considered mild drinkers. Those who had an average of nine were defined as moderate drinkers.
The authors found moderate drinkers “had more evidence of scarring and impairments in electrical signalling than non-drinkers and light drinkers”.
The research was published in the journal Heart Rhythm.
A spokesman for the Alcohol Information Partnership said: “This study’s definition of moderate drinking far exceeds the NHS recommended intake which most British drinkers stick to.”