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Electrocardiogram changes and heart rate variability during moderate exercise in chronic alcoholics

Kusuma Ramanna, Fazal M Gahlot, Nagaraja Puranik.


Background: Increasing evidences suggest that long-term, alcohol abuse may have powerful implications on health. However, very few studies have focused on the association between long-term alcohol drinking and electrocardiogram (ECG) changes and heart rate variability during exercise in these individuals.

Objective: To establish the ECG changes and heart rate variability in chronic alcoholic persons during moderate exercise and to compare the changes with those of nonalcoholic controls.

Materials and Methods: The study group consisted of 50 men, aged between 30 and 50 years with alcohol intake for more than 5 years of duration, without any known cardiac illness. Similarly, 50 nonalcoholic individuals of the same age, sex, and anthropometrically matched group constituted the control group. ECG was monitored and recorded while the subjects were made to walk briskly (moderate exercise) on a treadmill. Statistical analysis was done by using Student’s t test.

Results: In this study, there were significant ECG changes observed in chronic alcoholic persons during moderate exercise. In these individuals, ST segment, QT interval, and QTc interval were increased significantly compared with nonalcoholic persons. However, all other ECG waves, intervals, QRS frontal axis, and heart rate variability were unchanged in them compared with controls.

Conclusion: Long-term alcohol intake has deleterious effects on cardiovascular functions, as it leads to ECG changes during exercise. These findings may be an early indicator of the “alcohol hazards” on body system, especially on the cardiovascular system.

Key words: Electrocardiogram, moderate exercise, treadmill test, chronic alcoholic persons

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