Alcohol and heart disease – risks and benefits

There is no scientific evidence that if a non-drinker starts drinking alcoholic beverages, this will have a beneficial effect on his cardiovascular system.

It should be remembered that even a slight excess of safe doses of alcohol entails a significant negative impact on the cardiovascular system, both in comparison with abstainers and those who drink little or moderately.

In different countries, when talking about standards or portions of alcohol, different volumes are implied. Usually, 1 serving of alcohol means one drink containing 10 ml of ethyl alcohol.

That is, one serving of alcohol, it is:

• 100 ml of beer;
• 50 ml of wine;
• 25 ml of vodka, cognac, whiskey or brandy;
The drinks mentioned above may have different alcohol content, therefore average values ​​are given.

Alcohol and cardiovascular mortality

A meta-analysis of 34 studies involving more than 1 million patients and more than 94,000 deaths showed an 18% reduction in mortality in those study groups in which participants consumed less than 2 servings of alcohol per day.

At the same time, for men consuming 3 or more servings of alcohol and for women taking more than 2 servings per day, the mortality rate increased. In the group of persons suffering from alcoholism /6 or more per day/, not only the risk of cardiovascular disease but also that of sudden death increased.

An analysis of studies among individuals without known cardiovascular disease showed the same trend, with moderate drinkers having an advantage in health status compared to abstainers.

People who abused alcohol had an increased risk of both cardiovascular and sudden death, as well as death from other causes.

The downward trend in mortality among light drinkers was seen in both men and women. In a prospective study of 490,000 patients, the relative risk for men was 0.7 and for women 0.6.

A prospective study among females / more than 85 thousand women aged 18 to 59 / showed the following results:

• Those consuming 1-3 portions per week – relative risk 0.83;
• From 3 to 18 portions per week – relative risk 0.88;
• More than 18 portions per week – relative risk 1.19;

Analyzed studies allow us to draw the following conclusion: minor and moderate alcohol consumption lowers cardiovascular mortality, both in patients with known diseases of the cardiovascular system and in healthy people.

But even with a slight increase in the conditionally safe doses of alcohol, cardiovascular mortality increases. Drunkenness and alcoholism increase mortality from all causes.

Alcohol and ischemic heart disease /CHD/

A minimal risk of developing CHD has been found in people consuming 2 to 7 portions of alcohol per week.

It should be noted that no significant benefits of alcohol use have been found among individuals with an initially low risk of coronary heart disease /with a body mass index below 25, non-smokers, eating healthy and regularly, doing physical exercise/ .

As with mortality, exceeding the conventionally safe doses of alcohol increases the risk of CHD, and in people with alcohol problems such as binge drinking and alcoholism, the relative risk of coronary heart disease is 1.45.

Alcohol and hypertension

From the results of several studies, it is established that in people who drink more than 2 drinks of alcohol, the risk of hypertension increases by 1.5-2 times.

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