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Light To Moderate Drinking Linked To Fewer Heart Problems In Male Bypass Patients

November 15, 2010

Study Highlights:

    * Male heart bypass patients who drank light to moderate amounts of alcohol daily were less likely to require additional heart procedures or suffer a heart attack or stroke, compared to non-drinking patients.
    * However, bypass patients whose hearts didn’t pump blood effectively and women were more likely to require additional procedures or have a heart attack or stroke after their surgery.

Light to moderate alcohol consumption (about two to three drinks daily) among male coronary artery bypass patients was associated with 25 percent fewer subsequent cardiovascular procedures, heart attacks, strokes and death compared to non-drinkers, in a study presented at the American Heart’s Association’s Scientific Sessions 2010.

 However, bypass patients with left ventricular dysfunction who were moderate to heavy drinkers (more than six drinks daily) were twice as likely to have subsequent cardiovascular deaths compared to non-drinkers.

“The benefit of light amounts of alcohol consumption has been documented in healthy individuals, but our analysis showed a benefit from light alcohol intake in post-coronary bypass patients,” said Umberto Benedetto, M.D., Ph.D. at the University of Rome La Sapienza in Italy. “However, our analysis indicated that alcohol consumption is not advisable in patients with left ventricular dysfunction and heart failure.  No adverse correlation was found between moderate alcohol consumption and any medication.”

Light to moderate alcohol consumption was defined as five to 30 grams of alcohol daily; moderate to heavy was defined as more than 60 grams daily.

Researchers used a standard questionnaire to compare alcohol consumption in 1,021 patients who underwent heart bypass and reviewed subsequent bypass procedures, heart attacks, strokes and cardiac deaths during the following 3 1/2 years. Patients consuming about two drinks daily had fewer cardiovascular events when compared to abstainers.    

Moreover, moderate to heavy alcohol consumption (about four drinks daily) by patients with left ventricular problems was associated with significantly greater risk of dying.

Results of the study need to be confirmed over a longer follow-up period, with more patients and controls, Benedetto said.

The American Heart Association does not recommend people start consuming alcohol to prevent heart disease because too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and have other negative effects. For those who already drink alcohol, the association recommends women limit themselves to a drink a day and men limit themselves to two drinks per day.

Co-authors are: Giovanni Melina, M.D., Ph.D.; Davide Sansone, M.D.; Roberta Di Bartolomeo, M.D.; Emiliano Angeloni, M.D.; Simone Refice, M.D.; Ivan Stigliano, M.D.; Antonino Roscitano, M.D.; Tommaso Hinna Danesi, M.D.; and Riccardo Sinatra, M.D.

ALSO SEE
Abstract 18681  Regular moderate drinking among women associated with greater survival
Regular moderate alcohol consumption ““ two to four drinks daily ““ in mid-life may yield a small but significant increase of overall health status in women who survive into old age.

The researchers prospectively reviewed data from the Nurses’ Health Study in almost 14,000 individuals who survived to 70 years or older.

After adjusting for issues such as smoking, weight and physical activity, moderate alcohol use was associated with an 11 to 26 percent increase in survival odds.

The odds were also better for the nurses who drank regularly rather than those who drank sporadically or engaged in periodic binge drinking. Women who drank regularly rather than binging had a 28 percent increased survival odds if they drank three to six days a week and a 22 percent increased survival odds if they drank everyday “” compared to 7 percent for those whoNote actual presentation time is 3:45 p.m., CT Monday, Nov. 15, 2010.
drank once or twice a week. 

Abstract 19870 Low dose alcohol appears to decrease risk of stroke in women.
Researchers, who studied alcohol consumption and strokes in the Nurses’ Health Study database of over 84,000 nurses followed for more than 20 years, found that women who drank less than 15 grams of alcohol/day (approximately one drink/day) had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not drink.

Among women who reported taking hormone therapy, those who drank more than approximately 2 alcoholic drinks a day were at an increased risk of stroke compared to those who did not drink.
Note actual presentation time is 4:15 p.m., CT Monday, Nov. 15, 2010.

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