A Glass of Wine, a Pint of Beer May be Heart Healthy
Having a drink of wine or beer daily may help protect one’s heart against disease, a large-scale study suggests.
But drinking alcohol to excess can increase your risk for a variety of heart problems, the study showed.
Researchers tracked more than 1.9-M healthy British adults and found that having the occasional drink was tied to reductions in the risk of heart attack, sudden heart death, heart failure and stroke, compared to non-drinkers.
In the study, “moderate” drinking was defined as 7 pints of regular beer or 1.5 bottles of wine in one week, researchers said in background notes.
Drinking more than that increased the risk of many heart health problems, researchers found, including sudden heart death, heart failure, cardiac arrest and stroke.
“We have shown that heavy drinking increases a person’s risk of developing a variety of different types of cardiovascular disease as well as raising their risk of dying from non-cardiovascular causes,” said lead researcher, a genetic epidemiologist with the University of Cambridge in England.
Despite these results, non-drinkers shouldn’t feel pressure to pick up a bottle for their heart health, even though the study showed some potential benefit from casual drinking, he said.
“There are safer and more effective ways of reducing cardiovascular risk, such as increasing levels of physical activity, maintaining a healthy diet and quitting smoking, which do not incur increased risks of harm such as alcohol dependence, liver disease and certain types of cancer,” he said.
For this study, researchers at the University of Cambridge and University College London investigated the potential link between alcohol consumption and 12 cardiovascular diseases by analyzing electronic health records for nearly 2-M adults with good heart health.
The investigators found that moderate drinkers had a 32% lower risk of heart attack, 56% lower risk of sudden heart death, 24% lower risk of heart failure, and 12% decreased risk of ischemic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
But people who went over the line into heavy drinking wound up with increased heart health risks, including a 21% higher risk of sudden heart death, a 22% higher risk of heart failure, a 50% increased risk of cardiac arrest, a 33% increased risk of ischemic stroke and a 37% increased risk of bleeding in the brain.
The findings were reported March 22 in the British Medical Journal.
With this degree of power in the study, it’s pretty good evidence you are benefiting your health by having a few drinks a week, or a drink or two a day.
There are several potential ways that casual drinking might benefit heart health, although none have been proven.
Alcohol consumption has been linked to increases in “good” HDL cholesterol and properties in blood that reduce clotting, he said. It’s also possible that moderate drinking helps reduce your stress levels, Stewart said.
The results indicate that US guidelines for healthy drinking appear to be on the right track, said an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.
The guidelines basically say if you’re a man, never have more than 2 drinks in a day, and if you’re a woman, never have more than 1 drink a day. That is a simple message, and yet more Americans do not follow it than do.
I am one who does most often less, but though I really like beer, I rarely drink it, fine red wine for me.
US guidelines consider a drink to be 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine or 1.5 oz of spirits according to the USCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.
Have a terrific weekend.
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