Previous studies have shown that a drinking binge can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation, which is when the heart's upper chambers begin to quiver chaotically instead of contracting normally.
Now, a new study suggests when people who already have heart issues drink even a moderate amount of alcohol, it increases their risk of atrial fibrillation.
The study included more than 30,000 older adults who either had clogged arteries, a history of stroke or diabetes complications.
Over about five years, people who drank occasionally or not at all developed atrial fibrillation at a rate of about 1.5% each year.
For more moderate drinkers, the rate was 1.7% and for heavy drinkers, it was 2.1%.
Dr. Eleanor Kennedy, a cardiologist at St. Vincent Heart Clinic Arkansas says there are several things that need to be taken into consideration.
"The thing to keep in mind about this study is number one, the age of the patients. Everyone had to be at least 55-years of age. Number two, the patients in this study either already had heart disease, vascular disease or diabetes with complications. So, it's not the population as a whole. It's positively true that previous studies have shown that relatively small amounts of alcohol intake are generally associated with a little bit less heart disease than no alcohol intake."
In general, experts say if you're already a moderate drinker, which is up to one drink a day for women and two for men, it's probably okay to keep it up.
But for people with certain chronic health problems, you should limit your alcoholic beverages to no more than one drink per week and binge drinking should be avoided all together.