A Positive Research Article on Drinking Wine

We have all read the peer reviewed research papers about the increased consumption of wine and spirits during the pandemic. On mornings for recycling collection in my community, as I walk or job, I notice an increased number of empty wine bottles, beer cans and alcohol bottles being sent for recycling.

Articles about increased liver disease prevail. All negative articles about alcohol consumption and health until the July 27, 2021 publication in the Journal of Clinical Cardiology: Clinical Electrophysiology looking at the relationship between alcohol consumption versus beer or cider. Their study examined 400,000 adults and raised the idea” that for current consumers, drinking red or white wine could potentially be a safer alternative to other types of alcoholic beverages with respect to the development of atrial fibrillation. The study looked at adults in the United Kingdom Bio-Bank aged 40-69.

Those who consumed 1-7 glasses of wine per week had the lowest risk of developing atrial fibrillation -even lower than non-drinkers. For white wine the same risk applied until you reached extremely high levels of white wine intake. For beer and cider there was a direct relationship between the amount of product consumed and the increase in risk of atrial fibrillation.

This was an observational study and does not allow for concluding cause and effect. There are also differences in what the United Kingdom defines as a glass of wine and what other countries do. For example, in Austria one drink can contain up to 20 grams of alcohol. In the United States it contains 14 grams of alcohol while in the UK only 8 grams of alcohol.

The overall conclusion I derive from this study is that a small amount of wine, especially red wine, is probably not going to contribute to you developing atrial fibrillation. On the other hand, the definition of a drink in this article is probably far smaller than we pour at home from the bottles we open.

Weight Loss May Prevent Recurrent Atrial Fibrillation

Heart - CopyAtrial fibrillation is a chaotic heart rhythm seen generally in patients with an enlarged left atrium chamber of the heart and or disease of the heart valves. The heart beats irregularly in many cases decreasing the effective pumping ability of the heart muscle. Patients with atrial fibrillation tend to form blood clots in the left heart chambers which are at risk to break off and travel downstream especially to the brain causing embolic strokes. Newly diagnosed patients are placed on anticoagulant medications such as warfarin, dabigatrin, rivaroxaban, or apixaban to prevent these clots from forming in addition to medicines to slow down the heart rate and hopefully shift you back to your normal heart sinus rhythm in time. Other patients are forced to undergo electrical shock cardioversion to re-establish their normal sinus rhythm while others require ablation therapy to do the same. Once these procedures and chemical maneuvers have been successful, and many times they are not, patients are placed on medications to maintain the correct rhythm.

At a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, Rajeev K. Pathak, MBBS, of Australia’s Royal Adelaide Hospital, presented data showing patients who went on a diet and lost 10% of their body weight were six times more likely to be free from the arrhythmia without having to use antiarrythmic medication at five years (rate 46% versus 13% with less than a 3% weight loss.) The results were presented at the ACC meeting and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The study looked at 355 patients who had atrial fibrillation and a body mass index of 27kg/m2 or greater. They were offered a low fat, low carbohydrate weight loss program plus an exercise program at a weight loss clinic. They determined freedom from recurrent atrial fibrillation by using a seven day Holter monitor recording. The evaluations showed that those patients who kept the weight off with less than a 2% fluctuation in weight were 85% more likely to not have recurrent atrial fibrillation or require medication use to control their rhythm.

Lifestyle modification in the form of weight loss is always preferable to the use of medication and procedures. Bernard Gersh, J. MBChB, DPhil, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota was adamant in saying, “Bottom line is this is a very simple strategy for people with atrial fibrillation. They must lose weight.” He went on to say that weight loss should be considered and tried before a patient is sent for an ablation procedure.

It is important to note that this study is an observational study and did not actually prove that losing weight caused atrial fibrillation to disappear. A further study is underway to prove this point. The article additionally did not specify if the researchers discontinued anticoagulants in the weight loss group no longer exhibiting atrial fibrillation.