- New research showed that drinking a small glass of wine or beer a day could lead to heart problems.
- The largest study on alcohol consumption and atrial fibrillation (AFib) showed that people who drink one drink a day are 16% more likely to develop AFib.
- Those who develop AFib, an irregular heartbeat, have a higher risk of stroke and heart failure.
- The results directly challenge the idea that alcohol consumption in moderation has preventive properties such as improving heart health.
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U.S. health officials recommend that men drink no more than two drinks a day, and women drink no more than one drink a day to avoid the dangerous side effects of long-term binge drinking such as heart disease, high blood pressure and liver disease.
But new research suggests that even having a small drink a day can lead to long-term health consequences.
Read more: Some experts say you should avoid heavy drinking before getting the COVID-1
A study published by the European Society of Cardiology analyzed data from 108,000 people in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Italy from 1982 to 2010. The results showed that people who drink 12 grams of ethanol a day – equivalent to a small glass of wine or beer had a 16% increase in their risk of atrial fibrillation over the next 14 years.
The risk only increased with more alcohol consumption, as those who drank two drinks a day had a 28% increase in risk, and those who drank more than four a day increased up to 47%.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is when your heart beats irregularly and fast, which can increase a person’s risk of stroke and heart failure. According to the American Heart Association, 15% to 20% of strokes are caused by AFib.
According to researchers, this is the largest study ever conducted on the effect of alcohol on AFib.
While drinking four drinks or more a night, more commonly known as binge drinking, is associated with an increased risk of heart failure, researchers say the new findings challenge decades-old ideas about the preventive nature of alcohol in moderation.
The findings question the idea that ‘a glass of red wine a day’ is healthy
The idea that red wine helps prevent heart disease became popular after researchers published a paper examining drinking culture in France and heart health as a case study in 1980, affectionately called “The French Paradox.”
The theory has had a lasting effect on the public perception of red wine, but cardiologists say the health benefits of red wine are overrated. Insider Kelly Burch previously reported that the American Heart Association said drinking red wine does not lead to a healthy heart.
One limitation of the study was that it only included European adults ranging in age from 24 to 97, so the data may not be generalizable to a global population.
According to Dr. However, Renate Schnabel, lead author of the study and cardiologist at the University Heart and Vascular Center in Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, the results directly challenge the French paradox.
These findings are important as the regular consumption of alcohol, ‘a glass of wine a day’ to protect the heart, as is often recommended in the lay press, should probably no longer be suggested without weighing the risks and possible benefits for all cardiovascular diseases, including atrial fibrillation, “Schnabel said.