for people ages 21-81 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Gregory M Marcus, MD, MASJonathan W Dukes
Photo of Gregory M Marcus
Gregory M Marcus



Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia in the United States and it has been associated with ethanol use. Understanding how ethanol affects the electrical properties of the heart and induces AF has important public health implications. The objective of this research is to investigate the mechanistic relationship between ethanol and atrial fibrillation in humans by performing a placebo controlled study looking at the electrical properties of the heart in patients receiving intravenous ethanol or placebo. The investigators hypothesize that ethanol increases the susceptibility of human myocardium to atrial fibrillation through electrophysiologic changes in the atrial myocardium in the acute setting.

Official Title

Investigating the Effects of Ethanol on Atrial Fibrillation Susceptibility and Pathogenesis


The purpose of this study is to look for changes in the electrical properties of heart that may be caused by ethanol (commonly referred to as alcohol) and specifically how ethanol may trigger episodes of the most common abnormal heart rhythm, atrial fibrillation (AF). This study will demonstrate the mechanism of ethanol induced atrial fibrillation and clarify the health effects of one of the worlds' most popular drugs (ethanol). With this understanding, physicians may be able to better identify those patients most at risk for ethanol induced AF and target public health campaigns towards this vulnerable population. Patients in this study will undergo an electrophysiologic study both prior to and after receiving either an ethanol or placebo infusion. This electrophysiology study will measure AF inducibility (the primary outcome), left and right atrial conduction times, and the atrial effective refractory period in multiple locations (AERP). The changes in the conduction times and AERPs (before and after study drug infusion) will be recorded as secondary outcomes. About 100 people will participate in this study. 50 people will be randomized to receive intravenous ethanol, and 50 people will be randomized to receive an intravenous placebo. The placebo will be in the form of 0.45% saline solution ("half normal saline") and the alcohol will be in the form of 6% volume/volume ethanol in 0.45% saline solution.


Atrial Fibrillation Alcohol Electrophysiologic properties of the atria Randomized Clinical Study Ethanol


You can join if…

Open to people ages 21-81

  • Patients aged 21-80 with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF), supraventricular tachycardia, or undifferentiated palpitations who are to undergo either an elective ablation procedure (for AF, atrial flutter, atria tachycardia, atrial ventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT), or atrial ventricular reentrant tachycardia (AVRT)) or a diagnostic electrophysiology study in order to diagnose and treat their clinical arrhythmia at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) will be eligible for enrollment.

You CAN'T join if...

  • Patients will be excluded if they are not in normal sinus rhythm (i.e. in AF, atrial tachycardia, atrial flutter, or incessant AVNRT/AVRT) at the time of onset of the procedure, any history of substance abuse or alcoholism as determined by history, AUDIT questionnaire, or chart review, left ventricular ejection fraction <50%, inability to give informed consent, liver dysfunction (elevated aspartate aminotransferase , alanine aminotransferase, total bilirubin, or alkaline phosphatase >2x normal), clinical evidence of liver disease (enlarged liver, caput medusa, spider angiomas, or other signs of liver disease on exam), or pregnancy.


  • University of California, San Francisco
    San Francisco California 94143 United States

Lead Scientists at UCSF

  • Gregory M Marcus, MD, MAS
    CLINICAL Dr. Gregory Marcus is a specialist in the treatment of arrhythmias, including mapping and catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardias and ventricular arrhythmias. He is also an expert in pacemaker, biventricular device and defibrillator implantation. RESEARCH Dr. Marcus is Associate Chief of Cardiology for Research at UCSF Health.
  • Jonathan W Dukes


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
Last Updated