Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Is it okay to drink alcohol if I have an implanted defibrillator?

Q. You have said that alcohol can cause heart rhythm problems. I have an implanted defibrillator. Is it okay for me to drink alcohol?

A. Alcohol can, indeed, cause heart rhythm problems in people who drink too much or who are extra-sensitive to the effects of alcohol. It can trigger atrial fibrillation, which can make an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) deliver a shock when it shouldn't.

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