June 01, 2017
1 min read

Acute alcohol consumption associated with cardiac arrhythmias, sinus tachycardia

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The MunichBREW study, conducted at the Munich Octoberfest, suggested a link between alcohol consumption and cardiac arrhythmias.

“From a [CV] perspective, acute excessive alcohol consumption has been associated with the so called ‘holiday heart syndrome,’” Stefan Brunner, MD, from the department of medicine at the University Hospital Munich and the Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, and colleagues wrote. “This syndrome affects individuals without a specific cardiac history resulting in both ventricular and supraventricular arrhythmias, predominantly atrial fibrillation.”

Brunner and colleagues conducted an observational, cross-sectional cohort study composed of voluntary visitors aged 18 years or older at the 2015 Octoberfest in Munich. The 3,028 participants received a smartphone-based ECG, which was analyzed for cardiac arrhythmias and respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and breath alcohol concentration measurements.

The participants in the acute alcohol cohort were predominantly men (71%), with a mean age of 34.4 ±13.3 years and a mean breath alcohol concentration of 0.85±0.54g/kg.

Researchers used a multivariable-adjusted logistic regression model to associate breath alcohol concentration with cardiac arrhythmias.

Additionally, researchers analyzed 4,131 participants of the community-based KORA S4 Study (mean age, 49 years; 51% women) to determine an association between cardiac arrhythmias and chronic alcohol consumption.

Cardiac arrhythmias occurred in 30.5% (sinus tachycardia, 25.9%; other arrhythmia subtypes, 5.4%) of the acute alcohol cohort, Brunner and colleagues found.

There was a significant overall association between breath alcohol concentration and cardiac arrhythmias (OR per 1-U change = 1.75; 95% CI, 1.5-2.05), particularly in sinus tachycardia (OR = 1.96; 95% CI, 1.66-2.31).

Respiratory sinus arrhythmia, a measure of autonomic tone, was observed in 22.2% of the acute alcohol cohort, according to the researchers.

In the chronic alcohol cohort, there was a link between chronic alcohol consumption and sinus tachycardia (OR = 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01-1.06).

“We have conducted a large prospective analysis of acute alcohol consumption on ECG-assessed cardiac arrhythmias. We thereby report good technical feasibility of ECG screening even under lively conditions at the Munich Octoberfest,” the researchers wrote. “Additional research is warranted to investigate if autonomic imbalance constitutes the link between sinus tachycardia and the occurrence of arrhythmias like [AF], as implicated by reports of the so-called ‘holiday heart syndrome.’” – by Dave Quaile

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.