How just a single beer or glass of wine can affect your heart

Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of a common heart-rhythm abnormality

Red alert: drinking alcohol can increase the risk of an abnormal heart rhythm within the next few hours. Photograph:  Afonso Salcedo/500px/Getty

Red alert: drinking alcohol can increase the risk of an abnormal heart rhythm within the next few hours. Photograph: Afonso Salcedo/500px/Getty

A new study has found that consuming alcohol, even as little as one can of beer or one glass of wine, can quickly increase the risk of a common type of cardiac arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation in people who have a history of the condition.

Doctors have long suspected a link between alcohol and atrial fibrillation, but until now they did not have definitive evidence that alcohol could cause arrhythmias. The new study is among the most rigorous to date: the researchers recruited 100 people with a history of atrial fibrillation and tracked them intensely for four weeks, monitoring their alcohol intake and their cardiac rhythms in real time.

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