Nav: Home

Moderate drinking linked to lower risk of some -- but not all -- heart conditions

March 22, 2017

Moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of several, but not all, cardiovascular diseases, finds a large study of UK adults published by The BMJ today.

The finding that moderate drinking is not universally associated with a lower risk of all cardiovascular conditions suggests a more nuanced approach to the role of alcohol in prevention of cardiovascular disease is necessary, say the researchers.

Moderate drinking is thought to be associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared with abstinence or heavy drinking.

In the UK, moderate drinking is defined as no more than 14 units (112 grams) of alcohol a week.

To put this into context, one unit of alcohol is about equal to half a pint of ordinary strength beer, lager or cider (3.6% alcohol by volume) or a small pub measure (25 ml) of spirits. There are one and a half units of alcohol in small glass (125 ml) of ordinary strength wine (12% alcohol by volume). [Source: NHS Choices]

There is, however, a growing scepticism around this observation, with some experts pointing out several shortcomings in the evidence. For example, grouping non-drinkers with former drinkers, who may have stopped drinking due to poor health.

So researchers at the University of Cambridge and University College London set out to investigate the association between alcohol consumption and 12 cardiovascular diseases by analysing electronic health records for 1.93 million healthy UK adults as part of the CALIBER (ClinicAl research using LInked Bespoke studies and Electronic health Records) data resource.

All participants were free from cardiovascular disease at the start of the study, and non-drinkers were separated from former and occasional drinkers to provide additional clarity in this debate.

After several influential factors were accounted for, moderate drinking was associated with a lower risk of first presenting to a doctor with several, but not all, cardiovascular conditions, including angina, heart failure and ischaemic stroke, compared with abstaining from alcohol.

However, the authors argue that it would be unwise to encourage individuals to take up drinking as a means of lowering their cardiovascular risk over safer and more effective ways, such as increasing physical activity and stopping smoking.

Heavy drinking (exceeding recommended limits) conferred an increased risk of first presenting with a range of such diseases, including heart failure, cardiac arrest and ischaemic stroke compared with moderate drinking, but carried a lower risk of heart attack and angina.

Again, the authors explain that this does not mean that heavy drinkers will not go on to experience a heart attack in the future, just that they were less likely to present with this as their first diagnosis compared with moderate drinkers.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. Added to which, the authors point to some study limitations that could have introduced bias.

Nevertheless, they say it is the first time this association has been investigated on such a large scale and their findings have implications for patient counselling, public health communication, and disease prediction tools.

In a linked editorial, researchers at Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in the US say this study "does not offer a materially new view of the associations between alcohol consumed within recommended limits and risk of cardiovascular disease.

"This work, however, sets the stage for ever larger and more sophisticated studies that will attempt to harness the flood of big data into a stream of useful, reliable, and unbiased findings that can inform public health, clinical care, and the direction of future research," they conclude.
-end-
Research: Association between clinically recorded alcohol consumption and initial presentation of 12 cardiovascular diseases: population based cohort study using linked health records http://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.j909

Editorial: Alcohol and cardiovascular disease http://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.j1340

BMJ

Related Heart Failure Articles:

New hope for treating heart failure
Heart failure patients who are getting by on existing drug therapies can look forward to a far more effective medicine in the next five years or so, thanks to University of Alberta researchers.
Activated T-cells drive post-heart attack heart failure
Chronic inflammation after a heart attack can promote heart failure and death.
ICU care for COPD, heart failure and heart attack may not be better
Does a stay in the intensive care unit give patients a better chance of surviving a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure flare-up or even a heart attack, compared with care in another type of hospital unit?
Tissue engineering advance reduces heart failure in model of heart attack
Researchers have grown heart tissue by seeding a mix of human cells onto a 1-micron-resolution scaffold made with a 3-D printer.
Smoking may lead to heart failure by thickening the heart wall
Smokers without obvious signs of heart disease were more likely than nonsmokers and former smokers to have thickened heart walls and reduced heart pumping ability.
After the heart attack: Injectable gels could prevent future heart failure (video)
During a heart attack, clots or narrowed arteries block blood flow, harming or killing cells in the heart.
Heart failure after first heart attack may increase cancer risk
People who develop heart failure after their first heart attack have a greater risk of developing cancer when compared to first-time heart attack survivors without heart failure, according to a study today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Scientists use 'virtual heart' to model heart failure
A team of researchers have created a detailed computational model of the electrophysiology of congestive heart failure, a leading cause of death.
Increase in biomarker linked with increased risk of heart disease, heart failure, death
In a study published online by JAMA Cardiology, Elizabeth Selvin, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and colleagues examined the association of six-year change in high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T with incident coronary heart disease, heart failure and all-cause mortality.
1 in 4 patients develop heart failure within 4 years of first heart attack
One in four patients develop heart failure within four years of a first heart attack, according to a study in nearly 25,000 patients presented today at Heart Failure 2016 and the 3rd World Congress on Acute Heart Failure by Dr.

Related Heart Failure Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...