Alcohol consumption and risk of incident atrial fibrillation: A population-based cohort study

Published:March 06, 2020DOI:


      • Problem drinking was associated with increased atrial fibrillation (AF) risk in men.
      • A moderate or higher alcohol intake was associated with an increased AF risk in men.
      • Alcohol intake was not associated with AF risk in women.



      Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common tachyarrhythmia. High alcohol consumption is associated with increased AF risk. It remains unclear whether lower levels of alcohol consumption are also associated with AF risk, and whether the association differs between men and women. In this study, we investigated the association between low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption and AF risk in men and women.


      We performed a population-based cohort study of 109,230 health examination participants in northern Sweden. Data regarding alcohol intake were obtained using a questionnaire administered at the health examination. Incident AF cases were identified from the Swedish National Patient Registry.


      AF was diagnosed in 5,230 individuals during a total follow-up of 1,484,547 person-years. Among men, AF risk increased over quartiles of weekly alcohol consumption (P for trend 0.001). Men with alcohol consumption in the highest quartile (≥4.83 standard drinks [each drink containing 12 gs of ethanol] per week; SDW) had a HR of 1.21 (95% CI 1.09–1.34) for AF compared to men in the lowest quartile (<0.90 SDW). In men, problem drinking was also associated with an increased AF risk (HR: 1.24; 95% CI: 1.10–1.39). Among women, AF risk was not significantly associated with alcohol consumption (P for trend 0.09 for decreasing risk of AF over quartiles of weekly alcohol consumption) or problem drinking (HR: 1.00; 95% CI 0.70–1.42).


      Self-reported alcohol consumption and problem drinking were associated with an increased risk of AF among men, but not in women.


      List of abbreviations:

      AF (Atrial fibrillation), VIP (Västerbotten Intervention Programme), CAGE questionnaire (Cut Down, Annoyance, Guilt, Eye opener questionnaire), CI (confidence interval), HR (Hazard ratio), SD (Standard deviation), SDW (Standard drinks per week)
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