ZocdocAnswersCan heavy drinking cause an irregular heartbeat?

Question

Can heavy drinking cause an irregular heartbeat?

My doc noticed an irregular heartbeat. I?m nervous and confused. I exercise, get enough sleep and eat right. But sometimes, I drink a little too much on the weekends. Can the two be related?

Answer

The answer to your question depends on what your irregular heartbeat was, which is why it is important to discuss this with your primary care physician. Sometimes the heart has some extra beats that make the heart sound somewhat irregular. It is typically considered normal to have these every once in a while. However, certain arrhythmias can also make the heart seem irregular and these are never normal. Probably the most common arrhythmia that can cause an irregular heart beat is atrial fibrillation. This is a rhythm that is abnormal, typically fast, and can be irregular. It is associated with alcohol consumption most specifically alcohol binges. Some people with atrial fibrillation do not have symptoms. Others have palpitations, lightheadedness, and chest pain. The most feared side effect of having this rhythm is that it increases the risk of stroke. This is why most physicians keep their patients with atrial fibrillation on a blood thinner such as warfarin. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. You need to have an electrocardiogram to determine if you have one of those rhythms. If you do, then you might warrant referral to a cardiologist. Even if you don't, it might be worth your time to discuss your alcohol consumption. Your health might benefit from cutting down a bit on your drinking. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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