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Past alcohol consumption and incident atrial fibrillation: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185228
BackgroundAlthough current alcohol consumption is a risk factor for incident atrial fibrillation (AF), the more clinically relevant question may be whether alcohol cessation is associated with a reduced risk.
Methods and resultsWe studied participants enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) between 1987 and 1989 without prevalent AF. Past and current alcohol consumption were ascertained at baseline and at 3 subsequent visits. Incident AF was ascertained via study ECGs, hospital discharge ICD-9 codes, and death certificates. Of 15,222 participants, 2,886 (19.0%) were former drinkers. During a median follow-up of 19.7 years, there were 1,631 cases of incident AF, 370 occurring in former consumers. Former drinkers had a higher rate of AF compared to lifetime abstainers and current drinkers. After adjustment for potential confounders, every decade abstinent from alcohol was associated with an approximate 20% (95% CI 11-28%) lower rate of incident AF; every additional decade of past alcohol consumption was associated with a 13% (95% CI 3-25%) higher rate of AF; and every additional drink per day during former drinking was associated with a 4% (95% CI 0-8%) higher rate of AF.
ConclusionsAmong former drinkers, the number of years of drinking and the amount of alcohol consumed may each confer an increased risk of AF. Given that a longer duration of abstinence was associated with a decreased risk of AF, earlier modification of alcohol use may have a greater influence on AF prevention.
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