According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), around 71 percent of Americans report consuming alcohol in the past year, while almost 57 percent report drinking in the past month.
While heavy drinking is known to be severely detrimental to health, accounting for around 3.3 million deaths in the United States in 2012, an array of studies have suggested moderate alcohol intake may be beneficial for heart health.
Earlier this year, for example, a study reported by Medical News Today associated consuming three to five drinks a week with lower risk of heart attack and heart failure.
However, in the new study, senior author Dr. Gregory Marcus – of the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) – and colleagues suggest moderate alcohol intake may not be so good for the heart after all.
The researchers publish their findings in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The team analyzed the data of 5,220 participants of an average age of 56 who were part of the Framingham Heart Study.
Electrocardiograms (ECG) were used to assess the electrical activity of the participants’ hearts, enabling identification of atrial fibrillation (AF) – a condition characterized by irregular heartbeat.
Information on subjects’ alcohol intake was gathered from standard medical questionnaires.