Harvard Heart Letter

Beware of "holiday heart syndrome"

Overdrinking may cause your heart rhythm to go haywire.

As the holidays approach, it may be tempting to throw caution to the wind and overindulge. But here's something you may not know: increased alcohol consumption can trigger the heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation (or afib). This condition, aptly named "holiday heart syndrome," can occur in certain people with or without a prior history of afib when they simply have had too much to drink.

"Frankly, we don't know what triggers the arrhythmia, but it appears to occur in association with binge drinking," says Dr. Peter Zimetbaum, an arrhythmia specialist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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