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One glass of wine a day? The consequences of alcohol on your health

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

Several studies have indicated that a glass of red wine a day is not only healthy, but also helps to conserve it. Now a double-blind clinical study of 100 heart disease patients debunks the myth.

Researchers at the UC San Francisco (UCSF) found that alcohol has an immediate effect on the heart of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common heart rhythm disorder.

The results of the study, published in in the journal Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Clinical Electrophysiology, claims that the electrical properties that contract the heart muscles changed immediately in patients, who took alcohol in amounts less than intoxication, compared to an equal number of control subjects who received placebo. The results were clear: alcohol increases the risk of atrial fibrillation.

“The first study to point to a mechanism through which a lifestyle factor can acutely change the electrical properties of the heart to increase the chance of an arrhythmia,” explains Gregory Marcus, professor of medicine at UCSF in the Division of Cardiology.

All patients in the study underwent a standard, scheduled catheter ablation procedure, the most effective method of suppressing episodes of atrial fibrillation. This procedure attempts to remove the electrical connection between the pulmonary veins and the left atrium.

For the study, the researchers measured the refractory period cells needed to recover before they were able to transmit electrical signals again and the speed of conduction of the signal from one point to another within the heart. 

Although the latter did not change significantly, alcohol intake resulted in an average 12 millisecond reduction in the refractory period for pulmonary vein tissue. The substance also reduced the refractory period at a significantly greater number of sites throughout the atrium. However, the number of induced atrial fibrillation episodes did not differ significantly between the alcohol and placebo groups.

“Patients should be aware that alcohol can have immediate effects and increase the risk of arrhythmias,” insists Marcus.

Atrial fibrillation interrupts the normal pumping of blood through the atria – the upper chambers of the heart. Normally, the pumping is carried out by means of regular waves of conduction of electrical signals along circuits that are formed in the heart between the cells of the muscle tissue. 

When a person has this disease, the electrical properties change within the atria and the electrical signals travel chaotically through the muscles of the chambers. 

Consequently, the atria pump blood out of order. Those affected by atrial fibrillation may feel their heart pounding or skipping beats.

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