Atrial Fibrillation? Try Giving Up Alcohol

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that drinkers suffering from atrial fibrillation who stopped drinking for the period of the study significantly reduced episodes of atrial fibrillation. 

According to doctors, alcohol consumption appears to be a significant risk factor and trigger for atrial fibrillation, while teetotaling appears to have a profound impact.

Dr. John Osborne, an American Heart Association spokesperson, said the benefit from giving up drinking was similar to results seen from drugs used to treat atrial fibrillation.  Even if patients are not able to completely abstain from alcohol, Osborne advised cutting back significantly. “It costs nothing and led to a substantial reduction in hospital rates. People in the abstinence group also lost an average of 3.8 kilograms [8.4 pounds] in six months,” he said.

Not everyone thinks that teetotaling is a workable treatment for afib, however. Critics say that encouraging abstinence is unrealistic and is not a permanent solution to the problem.  In fact, a planned follow-up study had to be shortened due the difficulty of finding participants willing to abstain from drinking for a whole year.

 

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