Health Advice



Alcohol triggers irregular heartbeat

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

Sir Walter Scott once wrote that, "of all vices, drinking is the most incompatible with greatness." Well, according to research published in JAMA Cardiology, that's about right. Seems that if you stack drinking up next to having a poor diet, regular caffeine consumption and insufficient sleep, only drinking consistently causes an irregular heartbeat, aka atrial fibrillation or A-Fib.

There were 466 participants with A-Fib (and taking medication for it) in the randomized clinical trial. They used a mobile electrocardiogram device and a phone app to log in for 10 weeks whenever they experienced or consumed potential triggers of A-Fib, such as drinking alcohol and caffeine, sleeping on the left side or not getting enough sleep, eating a large meal, becoming dehydrated, having a cold drink, sticking to a particular diet and exercising.

Most participants thought caffeine would be the No. 1 trigger: It was not. In fact, there was no association between caffeine and A-Fib. This is in line with an earlier study from the University of California San Francisco that found that the relationship between caffeine and arrhythmias is pretty darn good -- it appears it may have a protective effect.

Turns out that drinking alcohol was the only tracked activity that consistently resulted in significantly more reported episodes of A-Fib.

So, if you're being treated for A-Fib and you drink alcohol, you might want to stop for a month or two to see if it noticeably reduces episodes of irregular heartbeat. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to make such a potentially lifesaving difference so quickly?



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Mike at

(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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