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  Link between alcohol and ‘holiday heart syndrome'

Narrator:       This is Science Today. The holiday season is upon us again, which in some cases may lead to what's called "holiday heart syndrome." Dr. Gregory Marcus of the University of California, San Francisco, explains that the term was coined in the '70s to describe patients with atrial fibrillation who experienced a common and potentially dangerous form of heart palpitation after excessive drinking and it was usually around the winter holiday season.

Marcus:          Patients would present with their first episode of atrial fibrillation and these patients had no known underlying heart disease and it turned out that on further questioning, that they had quite a bit to drink prior to developing their palpitations.

Narrator:       Recently, Marcus and his colleagues conducted a study that confirmed that alcohol may trigger serious palpitations in heart patients.

Marcus:          It's probably too strong and too early to recommend against alcohol. Certainly I would recommend against drinking anything in excess of moderation. And for patients who have palpitations with heart failure, I would recommend against it.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.