Importance Guidelines recommend that all risk factors for early-onset atrial fibrillation, including lifestyle factors, be proactively managed, considering the poor prognosis of the disease. Not much is known about the association of cumulative alcohol intake with the risk of atrial fibrillation in young adults aged 20 to 39 years, especially among heavy drinkers.
Objective To explore the association of alcohol consumption with the risk of incident atrial fibrillation in young adults.
Design, Setting, and Participants Using the National Health Insurance Service database, a nationwide population-based cohort study of adults aged 20 to 39 years without prior atrial fibrillation who underwent 4 serial annual health examinations between 2009 and 2012 was conducted. The cumulative alcohol consumption burden over 4 years was calculated by assigning 1 point to more than moderate drinking (≥105 g of alcohol per week) each year. Additionally, a semiquantitative cumulative burden was calculated by assigning 0, 1, 2, and 3 points to non, mild (<105 g per week), moderate (105-210 g per week), and heavy (≥210 g per week) drinking, respectively. Data were analyzed from May to June 2021.
Exposure Amount of alcohol intake in 4 years.
Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was incident atrial fibrillation during the follow-up period.
Results A total of 1 537 836 participants (mean [SD] age 29.5 [4.1] years, 1 100 099 [71.5%] male) were included in the final analysis. According to the 4-year cumulative burden of alcohol consumption stratified by moderate to heavy drinking, 889 382 participants (57.8%) were in the burden 0 group, 203 374 participants (13.2%) in the burden 1 group, 148 087 participants (9.6%) in the burden 2 group, 144 023 participants (9.4%) in the burden 3 group, and 152 970 participants (9.9%) in the burden 4 group. During a median (IQR) follow-up of 6.13 (4.59-6.48) years, atrial fibrillation was newly diagnosed in 3066 participants (0.36 per 1000 person-years). Participants with a cumulative burden of 4 points who continued more than moderate drinking for 4 years showed a 25% higher risk of atrial fibrillation compared with 0-point participants who kept non-to-mild drinking over 4 years (adjusted HR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.12-1.40). In a semiquantitative analysis, participants who sustained heavy drinking for 4 consecutive years were associated with a 47% higher atrial fibrillation risk than those who remained nondrinkers over 4 years (aHR, 1.47, CI 1.18-1.83).
Conclusions and Relevance Persistent moderate to heavy drinking and higher cumulative alcohol consumption burden might increase the risk of atrial fibrillation even in young adults aged 20 to 39 years.