• Forty cases of new-onset atrial fibrillation (AF) were reviewed to establish the frequency of various causes. Alcohol intoxication caused or contributed to 14 cases (35%). Coronary artery disease (22.5%) and pulmonary disease (22.5%) were also common causes of acute AF. Among patients less than 65 years old, alcohol caused or contributed to approximately two thirds (63%) of the cases of AF. Thyrotoxicosis was uncommon (one case in 40); no patient had a diagnosis of mitral stenosis, pulmonary embolism, or pericarditis. There were no complications of AF in alcoholic patients; the majority (88.9%) converted spontaneously to a normal sinus rhythm within 24 hours. Alcohol intoxication should be considered early in the differential diagnosis of new-onset AF in young patients. Many patients may not require admission to an intensive care unit or a costly battery of diagnostic tests.
(Arch Intern Med 1983;143:1882-1885)