Seoul - Researchers have found that 14 drinks a week is linked with a higher risk of health problems including stroke and embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib).
"Our study suggests that atrial fibrillation patients should avoid heavy alcohol consumption to prevent stroke and other complications," said study author Dr Boyoung Joung from the Yonsei University in the Republic of Korea.
The study, published in the journal EP Europace, included 9,411 patients with atrial fibrillation from 18 tertiary hospitals covering all geographical regions of South Korea.
Patients were categorised into four groups according to their weekly alcohol consumption: abstainer/rare, light, moderate and heavy (14 drinks or more).
A total of 7,455 (79.2 per cent) patients were classified as abstainer/rare, 795 (8.4 per cent) as light, 345 (3.7 per cent) as moderate, and 816 (8.7 per cent) as heavy alcohol consumption.
Patients were followed-up for a median of 17.4 months for adverse events, which included stroke, transient ischaemic attack, systemic embolism (a blood clot in a limb or organ), and hospitalisation for rate or rhythm control of atrial fibrillation or for heart failure management.
The researchers recorded how many patients experienced any of these events and calculated the incident rate (number of events per 100 person-years).
Incident rates were 6.73, 5.77, 6.44, and 9.65 in the abstainer/rare, light, moderate, and heavy drinkers, respectively.
The researchers compared the risk of adverse events in the light, moderate, and heavy drinkers to the abstainer/rare group.
Heavy drinking was associated with a 32 per cent increased risk compared with the abstainers and rare drinkers. No significant association was observed for light or moderate alcohol consumption.
"Our study did not find any significant association between light or moderate drinking and complications. A significant deleterious relationship with heavy drinking was identified, suggesting that heavy alcohol consumption should be avoided," Joung said.
Subgroup analyses showed that the impact of heavy drinking was more pronounced in patients with low stroke risk compared to those at moderate or high stroke risk.
Similarly, heavy drinking was associated with a greater likelihood of unfavourable outcomes in patients without high blood pressure compared to those with high blood pressure.
"While heavy drinking should be strongly discouraged among atrial fibrillation patients, moderate drinking seems to be safe," the authors wrote. (IANS)
New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Global wearable brand Fitbit on Thursday launched a virtual study to validate use of its wearable technology to identify episodes of irregular heart rhythm -- atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common form of heart rhythm irregularity.The Fitbit Heart Study is part of the company's strategy to make easy-to-use tools, which will make more accessible the detection of a range of conditions. It aims to enrol thousands of people for the study, to be used in the company's regulatory submissions globally."Advancing research on innovative and accessible technology, like Fitbit devices, will lead to more tools that will help improve health outcomes and reduce the AFib's impact on a large scale," said study researcher Steven Lubitz, a cardiologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. Fitbit wearables have the potential to speed up AFib detection. It's 24/7 heart rate tracking is powered by long battery life, which allows users to wear the device for several days at a time. This enables long-term heart rhythm assessment, even when one is asleep. The optimal way to identify irregular rhythm through heart rate tracking technology is to screen when the body is at rest, making assessment overnight, while people sleep, ideal for detection."The Fitbit Heart Study advances our heart health efforts. Long-term passive heart rhythm assessment with wide range of affordable devices, powered by 24/7 heart rate tracking technology, has the potential to improve early identification of AFib," said AEric Friedman, co-founder and CTO, Fitbit. According to the company, to track heart rate, Fitbit devices use photoplethysmography (PPG) technology to measure the rate of blood flow directly from a user's wrist.Theoretically, these measurements can be used to determine a user's heart rhythm, which Fitbit's algorithm will analyse for irregularities. The study participants who receive a notification about an irregular heart rhythm will be connected with a doctor for a virtual appointment at no cost to get more information and may receive an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch in the mail at no cost to confirm the notification.Fitbit aims to provide users with both long- and short-term AFib assessment options based on their individual needs and is developing PPG and ECG tools that could offer both long-term assessment and spot-check AFib detection.The company has completed the clinical trial of its new ECG feature and plans to seek review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and global regulatory authorities.--IANSbu/pcj