A particularly striking study published in 2017 looked at how alcohol can affect your heart rate in social settings. The study was carried out at the Oktoberfest in Munich, the world’s largest public beer festival. Researchers recruited more than 3,000 men and women who had been drinking but were not legally impaired. They tested their blood alcohol levels and gave them EKGs to assess their heart function. They found that about 26% of partygoers had a resting heart rate greater than 100 beats per minute, a risky but not fatal condition known as sinus tachycardia. About 5 to 6 percent of participants experienced other types of irregular heartbeat considered more dangerous, including atrial fibrillation, which can lead to serious complications such as stroke. The higher the concentrations of alcohol in participants’ breath, the greater their chances of having one of these irregular heart rhythms.
Dr Stefan Brunner, a cardiologist at Munich University Hospital and author of the study, said his results show that in general, the heart rate increases continuously with increasing blood alcohol levels, but everyone world does not show the same level of sensitivity. “Some people react more deeply with an increasing heart rate than others,” he said, although it is not clear why. Some people may just have a higher tolerance for alcohol, he said.
Dr Brunner pointed out that for most healthy adults, an increase in heart rate in response to alcohol shouldn’t be alarming, especially if you drink in moderation, which the Dietary Guidelines for Americans define as not. more than one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. “An increase in heart rate from 60 to 80 to 100 beats per minute is not of concern and simply reflects the influence of alcohol,” said Dr Brunner, although he added that you should be concerned. if you experience palpitations after drinking or if your smartwatch warns you of an abnormal heartbeat such as atrial fibrillation.
You should also be careful if you have high risk factors for developing a heart rhythm disorder, such as high blood pressure or coronary heart disease, or if you have ever suffered from arrhythmias. A recent trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a single can of beer or a single glass of wine can cause an episode of atrial fibrillation in people with a history of the disease.
Dr Peter Kistler, cardiologist and heart rhythm disorder expert, said people with arrhythmias can drink alcohol, but they should only do so occasionally, limiting themselves to just one standard drink. no more than three or four times a week. Avoiding alcohol altogether, however, could make a big difference. Dr. Kistler’s research showed that in people with recurrent arrhythmias who drank regularly, quitting alcohol halved their event rate.