TUESDAY, Dec. 28, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Total alcohol consumption is not associated with an increased risk for incident ventricular arrhythmia (VA), while there is a U-shaped association for alcohol consumption with the risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD), according to a study published online Dec. 21 in Heart Rhythm.

Samuel J. Tu, from the Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders at the University of Adelaide in Australia, and colleagues characterized associations of total and beverage-specific alcohol consumption with incident VA and SCD using U.K. Biobank data. A total of 408,712 middle-aged adults were studied during a median follow-up of 11.5 years. Alcohol consumption reported at baseline was calculated as standard U.K. drinks/week.

The researchers identified 1,733 incident VA events and 2,044 SCDs. There was no clear association for incident VA with total alcohol consumption. Consumption of greater amounts of spirits was associated with increased VA risk, but there were no other significant beverage-specific associations. A U-shaped association was seen for SCD with total alcohol consumption, with the lowest risk noted for consumption of <26 drinks/week. There was a potential association for consumption of greater amounts of beer, cider, and spirits with increasing SCD risk, while increasing consumption of red and white wine was associated with a reduced risk.

“Promoting awareness and empowering patients with the knowledge that more than moderate alcohol consumption will likely not protect their ventricles from arrhythmias and may increase the risk for sudden death (regardless of the exact mechanism) is worthwhile, a message that individual patients can act on immediately without intermediaries of their clinicians or health care policy makers,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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