Epidemiological, animal and human intervention studies suggest alcohol consumption has both beneficial and detrimental effects on cardiovascular health. While light to moderate alcohol consumption can produce cardioprotective effects, bingeing and abuse can lead to cardiomyopathy, heart failure, strokes, arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. In this report, we review historical and recent studies investigating the association between alcohol and arrhythmias. We also discuss proposed mechanisms of alcohol-induced arrhythmogenesis.
There appear to be a plethora of mechanisms underlying alcohol-induced arrhythmias, including electrolyte abnormalities, rebound and adrenergic hypersensitivity, QT interval prolongation, decreased heart rate variability and atrial effective refractory period, and more. Clearly, the only advice that can be given to any patient suffering an alcohol-induced arrhythmia at this time is abstention and a healthier lifestyle.