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Alcohol and arrhythmias: a comprehensive review

George, Anil; Figueredo, Vincent M

Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine: April 2010 - Volume 11 - Issue 4 - p 221–228
doi: 10.2459/JCM.0b013e328334b42d
Review article

The use of alcohol as a social lubricant has been ubiquitous in human societies since ancient times. It has also long been recognized that alcohol produces undesirable cardiovascular effects, especially when imbibed in excess. Numerous investigators have noted a causal relationship between alcohol and arrhythmias, as well as sudden cardiac death. We have undertaken a comprehensive review of the literature on alcohol as a potential trigger for arrhythmias. We have reviewed the major epidemiological studies undertaken on this subject. We have also explored pathophysiological mechanisms that drive the arrythmogenic effects of alcohol. In conclusion, although there is definite proof in the literature to implicate alcohol as a culprit in arrhythmias, the relationship is complex.

aThe Brody School of Medicine, Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Greenville, North Carolina, USA

bEinstein Institute for Heart and Vascular Health, Albert Einstein Medical Center, and Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Received 17 June, 2009

Revised 19 October, 2009

Accepted 28 October, 2009

Correspondence to Vincent M. Figueredo, MD, Einstein Heart and Vascular Center, 5501 Old York Road, Levy 3232, Philadelphia, PA 19141, USA Tel: +1 215 456 8991; fax: +1 215 456 3533; e-mail:

© 2010 Italian Federation of Cardiology. All rights reserved.