Cardiovascular Consequences of Excessive Alcohol Drinking via Electrocardiogram: A Systematic Review

Lisa A. Farinelli, Daria Piacentino, Brittney D. Browning, Barbara B. Brewer, Lorenzo Leggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


There is a link between excessive alcohol drinking and an increased risk to develop cardiovascular disease, including alcoholic cardiomyopathy. This association warrants further research on the potential utility for the electrocardiogram (ECG) in the participatory management of the chronic consequences of alcohol use disorder (AUD). Our goal is to enhance understanding about the pernicious role alcohol plays on cardiac health using the ECG, an accessible, cost-effective, validated tool to inform novel targeted treatments for AUD. In this systematic review of human studies, we examine the relationship between abnormal clinically significant changes to ECG variables and excessive alcohol drinking with the goal of identifying key patterns specific to quantity of alcohol consumed. Three independent reviewers and one consensus reviewer, adhering to the PRISMA guidelines, conducted an initial review on studies published from database inception to April 19, 2019, using PubMed, Embase, CINAHL and COCHRANE databases. The initial search generated 2,225 articles. The final selected number included 153 original articles. This systematic review provides evidence of patterns of clinically significant changes to ECG variables as a consequence of excessive alcohol consumption. Future directions include investigating whether a real-time assessment, such as the ECG, in conjunction with other key behavioral and cardiac measures, can help clinicians and patients realize the progressive and insidious cardiac damage because of excessive alcohol consumption. This theory-guided nurse science review supports the development of personalized symptom monitoring to deliver tailored feedback that illuminate risk factors as a potentially transformative approach in the management of AUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-45
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Addictions Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  • At-risk drinking
  • ECG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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