Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not More Than 2 Drinks for Women to Avoid Irregular Heartbeat!

Previous studies indicated that the consumption of a moderate amount of wine or other alcoholic drinks might help prevent heart disease.

In fact, a paper published on March 7, 2008 in the “American Journal of Medicine” indicated that people who commenced their drinking in middle age were 38 percent less likely to get a heart attack or other serious heart problem than abstainers were, even if they were overweight, had diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) or other heart risks.

Nevertheless, what is the optimal amount one should drink? Well, if you were a woman, consuming a drink or 2 will not put you at risk of getting irregular heartbeat, or what is also known as atrial fibrillation.

Several previous studies had already shown that medium to heavy drinking would lead to higher risk of atrial fibrillation among men. However, such link did not seem to establish among women, because not enough women were included in those studies.

A recent study, conducted by the researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, reported that having more than 2 alcoholic drinks is associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation. The findings were published on Dec 3, 2008 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Based on 34,715 women aged 45 and older and in good health at the start of the trial, the researchers found that alcohol consumption of up to 2 drinks per day would not lead to higher risk of incidental atrial fibrillation among these women. On the other hand, a small group of women who drank 2 or more alcoholic beverages per day had a risk of atrial fibrillation that was 1.6 times more than those non-drinking women.

In this study, questionnaires were used to assess alcohol consumption at the beginning of the trial and at follow-up checks. The irregular heartbeat was reported by individual woman via annual questionnaires and was confirmed later through a medical checkup.

However, the researchers indicated that careful interpretation should be carried out on their findings. This is because the number of women in some subgroups was rather small, and there is a possible threshold effect in the relationship between alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation among women.

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