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Light alcohol consumption may benefit heart disease: Study suggests

According to a new study, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may provide some protection for patients with heart disease. The findings were based on a combined sample field of 48,423 patients, thousands of whom had a history of myocardial infarction, angina, or stroke, according to the study published in the journal BMC Medicine.

The researchers noted that while lifestyle and dietary habits play an important role in secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, the impact of alcohol consumption on patients’ prognosis is unknown, and recommendations for upper limits of drinking differ significantly between guidelines.

‘While light-to-moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing multiple cardiovascular outcomes in general population cohorts, it is difficult to extend the posited cardio-protective effects to CVD patients because of their typically older age and compromised vasculature as well as the medications they take to prevent secondary events,’ researchers wrote.

Alcohol consumption and mortality in people with cardiovascular disease have J-curve relationships, according to an analysis of three major cohorts and data from 12 published studies. Patients who consumed light amounts of alcohol had the greatest reduction in all-cause mortality.

‘In summary, our study shows that an alcohol intake up to about 105g (or equivalent to 13 UK units, with one unit equal to half a pint of beer/lager/cider, half a glass of wine, or one measure of spirits) a week is associated with lower risks of both mortality and subsequent cardiovascular events among CVD patients,’ the team wrote. ‘While this threshold is somewhat lower than those recommended in most current guidelines, specific recommendations regarding the downward revision of such guidelines cannot be made.’

They also suggested that current drinkers may not need to stop drinking for secondary cardiovascular disease prevention, but should be informed that lower levels of consumption may be associated with lower risks. Non-drinkers, on the other hand, should not be encouraged to start light drinking.


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