Investigating the influence of genetic factors on alcohol-induced heart disease
Moderate to high levels of alcohol consumption is known to be harmful to our health. Because of this, national health guidelines universally recommend moderating alcohol consumption or not drinking any alcohol at all. Alcohol can damage many body organs, including our heart. From previous research, we know that excessive alcohol consumption can damage the heart muscle and increase our risk of developing dangerous heart rhythms. However, it is currently unknown whether a person's genetic makeup, which is inherited from their parents and remains the same throughout their life, influences the risk of alcohol-related heart disease. Answering this question is important as it may tell us whether certain individuals are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol and would therefore benefit the most from reducing their alcohol intake.
We will use data from the UK Biobank to study the relationship between alcohol intake reported by participants of the study, and the risk of developing alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy (a disorder of the heart muscle) and atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart beat). We will focus our investigations on how the impact of alcohol may vary depending on each participant's unique genetic makeup.
This study will build on the existing evidence and support current guidelines that emphasise the importance of moderating alcohol consumption. Knowledge gained from our research will support a precision medicine approach to the management of alcohol-related heart disease.