heart deserves more research, Marcus says.
Monitor your drinking
“Often we go out and we have dinner with friends and we don’t always track how much alcohol that we have consumed. We have to teach patients what are modifiable behaviors in terms of their condition,” says Mariann Piano, senior associate dean for research at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing’s Center for Research Development and Scholarship in Nashville.
“I think for me, a big takeaway as health care providers, we really need to be educating our patients and stating, ‘Look, this could be a risk factor’.”
Other studies have shown even if you don’t have atrial fibrillation, regular consumption of alcohol increases your risk for atrial fibrillation, Piano notes. And for patients with occasional atrial fibrillation, drinking has increased their risk of developing persistent A-fib.
In her editorial, Piano noted that the study also measured phosphatidyl-ethanol (PEth), which is formed when alcohol has been consumed. It has a half-life of four to 10 days and indicates regular moderate to heavy alcohol use. The PEth levels in the study suggest more than half of the participants were regular drinkers, Piano says.
Piano said she would be interested in a follow-up study that only included patients who were PEth-negative.
“There were a lot of technical aspects to the study that I think contributes to the strength of its design and then of course the results and recommendations,” Piano says. “So I think it definitely moves us forward in understanding the relationship between alcohol and associated atrial fibrillation.”
The takeaway for people who are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation is they really need to monitor and be very aware of what they’re drinking.