12 January - 20 June 2016

Alcohol consumption at early-middle age is associated with lower risk for future heart failure

28 January 2015

A drink a night 'is better for your heart than none at all', according to new research published recently in the European Heart Journal.  

The study, involving nearly 15,000 participants over a period of 25 years, monitored rates of heart failure in four categories: former drinkers, abstainers, drinkers of up to 7 drinks/week (<7) ≥7 to 14, ≥14 to 21, and ≥21 drinks/week. Surprisingly, despite alcohol being a known cardiac toxin, those consuming a moderate level of alcohol (< 7 units a week, which equates to 7 small glasses of wine or 3.5 pints of beer) were shown to be up to 20% less likely to suffer from heart failure than those who consumed no alcohol at all, although the effect was slightly diminished (16%) for female participants.  Although the study also took into account a number of other lifestyle factors, including age, body mass index (BMI), total cholesterol and physical activity, Professor Scott Solomon, one of the authors was still keen to point out that the lowered risk may not necessarily be caused by moderate alcohol consumption.  

Interestingly, the study also reported that participants that consumed > 14 units of alcohol per week were no more likely to experience heart failure than those who consumed no alcohol at all, although it was noted that the study only included a small number of heavy drinkers, which may have skewed the results.  Another significant finding of the study was that participants who had been heavy drinkers in their youth were at the greatest risk of heart failure.

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