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Arrhythmias and Social Drinking

Ann Intern Med. 1983;98(2):253. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-98-2-253_1
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The "holiday heart" syndrome was described a few years ago by Ettinger and associates (1), who noted paroxysms of arrhythmias in alcoholic patients without overt cardiomyopathy more often after weekend bouts of drinking and with the winter holidays. Arrhythmias are often described with overt alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Chronic or excessive exposure to ethanol is implied to be a social and not a pharmacologic problem.

In this issue, Greenspon and Schaal (2) describe the electrophysiologic effects of acute ethanol ingestion (90 mL) of whiskey in 14 alcoholic patients. Only after ethanol consumption did extrastimulation induce atrial fibrillation or flutter in five patients.


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