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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Jul 22;64(3):281-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.03.048.

Alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation: a prospective study and dose-response meta-analysis.

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Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address:
Department of Cardiology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



Although high alcohol consumption has been associated with increased risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), the role of light to moderate drinking remains unclear.


The study sought to investigate the association between alcohol consumption and AF risk in a prospective study of Swedish men and women and to conduct a meta-analysis of prospective studies to summarize available evidence.


We followed 79,019 men and women who, at baseline, were free from AF and had completed a questionnaire about alcohol consumption and other risk factors for chronic diseases. Incident AF cases were ascertained by linkage to the Swedish Inpatient Register. For the meta-analysis, studies were identified by searching PubMed through January 10, 2014, and by reviewing references of pertinent publications. Study-specific relative risks (RRs) were combined using a random effects model.


Over 859,420 person-years of follow-up (1998 to 2009), 7,245 incident AF cases were identified in our own cohort study. The association between alcohol consumption and AF did not differ by sex (p for interaction = 0.74). Compared with current drinkers of <1 drink/week (12 g alcohol/drink), the multivariable RRs of AF were 1.01 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.94 to 1.09) for 1 to 6 drinks/week, 1.07 (95% CI: 0.98 to 1.17) for 7 to 14 drinks/week, 1.14 (95% CI: 1.01 to 1.28) for 15 to 21 drinks/week, and 1.39 (95% CI: 1.22 to 1.58) for >21 drinks/week. Results were similar after excluding binge drinkers. In a meta-analysis of 7 prospective studies, including 12,554 AF cases, the RRs were 1.08 (95% CI: 1.06 to 1.10) for 1 drink/day, 1.17 (95% CI: 1.13 to 1.21) for 2 drinks/day, 1.26 (95% CI: 1.19 to 1.33) for 3 drinks/day, 1.36 (95% CI: 1.27 to 1.46) for 4 drinks/day, and 1.47 (95% CI: 1.34 to 1.61) for 5 drinks/day, compared with nondrinkers.


These findings indicate that alcohol consumption, even at moderate intakes, is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation.


alcohol; atrial fibrillation; meta-analysis; prospective studies; risk factors

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