Every so often, you might overdo it in the alcohol department. And, if the resulting hangover isn’t enough to keep you from doing it again, this might: New research has found that binge drinking can mess with your heart.
For the study, which is published in the European Heart Journal, scientists studied more than 3,000 people over 16 days at the 2015 Munich Octoberfest who had drunk different amounts of alcohol during the day. The people studied, who had an average age of 35, ranged from having none to three grams of alcohol per kilogram of blood (the equivalent of drinking 202 ounces of beer for slim people and 338 ounces for larger people). Researchers gave participants an electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor their heart activity using a portable, smart phone-based device, as well as a breathalyser to test their breath alcohol concentrations.
While the study points out that about one to four percent of the general population has cardiac arrhythmias, i.e. irregular heartbeats, 30.5 percent of study participants had irregular heartbeats and nearly 30 percent of them were sinus tachycardia, a condition where the heart beats too fast. Scientists found a direct link with alcohol: People who had higher blood alcohol levels were at a significantly increased risk of having a heart arrhythmia. (Looking to improve your diet? Try the best diet for men.)
Why should you care? Researchers point out that in some situations, arrhythmias can cause atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can be severely uncomfortable. And, in the long run, they can cause more serious problems like heart failure and stroke.
Drinking a lot over a short period of time (like many people do at festivals) has been linked to a condition called “holiday heart syndrome” where people who have no history of heart issues develop arrhythmias and sometimes atrial fibrillation.
Scientists suspect that the arrhythmias they found during the festival were temporary and would go away once the study participants sobered up, but they’re not totally sure since they only took measurements when they had been drinking.
Bottom line: Take it easy on the booze—especially if you have a heart condition. You could be left with more than a nasty hangover if you don’t.
This article was originally published on Menshealth.com