Alcohol abuse may increase the risk of death in patients with abnormal heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias, according to a new study presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association.
Researchers analyzed deaths in almost 115,000 patients ages 15 to 54 who were hospitalized for arrhythmias between 2010 and 2014, HealthDay reports. Almost 10% were also diagnosed with alcohol abuse. The study defined alcohol abuse as drinking that causes problems at home, work, or school, whether or not the person is considered physically dependent on alcohol.
The researchers found patients hospitalized with arrhythmias were 72% more likely to die of any cause before discharge if they also had diagnosed alcohol abuse or dependence.
“Alcohol abuse has harmful effects on physical health, leading to more illness and death in patients with heart problems. This is the first study to explore whether alcohol abuse is a risk factor for death in patients hospitalized with arrhythmia,” researcher Rikinkumar S. Patel, M.D., M.P.H., said in a news release.