Holiday heart syndrome revisited after 34 years

Arq Bras Cardiol. 2013 Aug;101(2):183-9. doi: 10.5935/abc.20130153.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


The cardiovascular effects of alcohol are well known. However, most research has focused on the beneficial effects (the "French paradox") of moderate consumption or the harmful consequences, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, associated with heavy consumption over an extended period. An association between the ingestion of acute alcohol and onset of cardiac arrhythmias was first reported in the early 70's. In 1978, Philip Ettinger described "Holiday heart syndrome" (HHS) for the first time, as the occurrence, in healthy people without heart disease known to cause arrhythmia, of an acute cardiac rhythm disturbance, most frequently atrial fibrillation, after binge drinking. The name is derived from the fact that episodes were initially observed more frequently after weekends or public holidays. Since the original description of HHS, 34 years have passed and new research in this field has increased the volume of knowledge related to this syndrome. Throughout this paper the authors will comprehensively review most of the available data concerning HHS and highlight the questions that remain unresolved.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Binge Drinking / complications*
  • Binge Drinking / physiopathology
  • Holidays*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors