Atrial Fibrillation and Alcohol

Let’s face it. Some people enjoy drinking alcohol. There are some pretty tasty wines out there that really complete a meal. But if you have AFib, you may be wondering if atrial fibrillation and alcohol mix. Getting more of the facts can help you make a decision about including alcoholic beverages in your diet.

General Facts About Alcohol’s Effects on Your Body

From the moment you ingest alcohol it impacts your body. The cumulative effects of drinking alcohol can negatively erode your health. When it comes to those who have AFib, I recommend that you make simply lifestyle changes to better your health. One of those choices may include reducing or completely eliminating alcohol from your diet. But this is something you need to discuss with your doctor to see if it’s right for you.

Generally, drinking alcohol to excess can produce abnormal digestive enzyme activation causing unnatural stress on your pancreas. Abnormally high buildup of these enzymes can lead to inflaming your pancreas resulting in something called pancreatitis. Long-term pancreatitis can be serious, even life-threatening. So, when it comes to your pancreas, alcohol causes inflammation in this organ. Inflammation can cause pain generally in various body organs and systems such as in your cardiovascular system.

In this video I discuss possible ways a patient with atrial fibrillation may pass out or have syncope. I'll discuss how it is diagnosed and treatment options.

Your liver helps break down and remove toxins, including alcohol, from your body. Habitual alcohol use interferes with your liver’s ability to clean out toxins. Additionally, regularly ingesting alcohol can chronically inflame your liver, causing liver disease. Alcohol scars your liver. This is another example of how inflammation causes health problems similar to what you are experiencing in your heart’s inflamed and scarred atrium.

Atrial Fibrillation and Alcohol

The scarring alcohol causes by inflaming the liver, known as cirrhosis in your liver, can be compared to the scarring in your heart’s atrium. Alcohol generally scars and inflames body tissues and systems. Though alcohol is not completely responsible for causing AFib, it can be a contributing factor.

Research about alcohol and AFib concludes that moderate drinking (1 – 3 drinks a day) increases your risk of causing AFib. Drinking more than this creates even greater risk of causing AFib. The latest research suggests that for every extra daily drink, you increase your risk of creating AFib by 8%.

Remember, forming scar tissue interferes with your heart’s atrium being able to function in a healthy way. As your heart ages, doing whatever you can do to support high heart health is highly recommended. Also, take into consideration that environmental toxins, family genetics, engaging in activities that cause and sustain high stress can all aggravate AFib.

Drinking excess alcohol may raise your chances of developing AFib. If you’ve already been diagnosed with AFib, reducing or completely eliminating alcohol intake may be a way to stop irritating your AFib condition.

Remember, left unchecked, AFib can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure. When your heart stops working, doctors may not be able to help in any way. Your family will be left without you. For this reason and more concerning doing preventable things to live as long as you can with a better quality of life, think about the risks of drinking alcohol.