Question: How does alcohol affect my risk of developing an abnormal heart rhythm?
Answer :There is a clear link between alcohol consumption and the occurrence of atrial fibrillation. It has been noted for decades that after excess alcohol consumption there's a high occurrence of new onset atrial fibrillation, so much so that there's a term that's coined for this called the 'holiday heart syndrome' -- where the day after binge alcohol consumption a patient presents with atrial fibrillation.
We know that there are a lot of alcohol-related changes that occur in the heart including, in some cases, enlargement of the heart and heart failure. And we know that chronic alcohol consumption, particularly if it's excessive -- that is greater than one drink a day for a woman or two drinks a day for a man -- is associated with a higher risk of arrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation.