Q: I'm a 55-year-old man who drinks moderately and exercises, but I’m mindful of my heart health. What impact does alcohol consumption have on the circulation system? —Randy S., N.Y.
A: As we age, our veins and arteries start to lose their elasticity. This vascular aging results in a condition known as arterial stiffness, which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular illnesses like atherosclerosis and hypertension. The extent to which these diseases progress depends on genetics, diet and environment. As you’re probably aware, moderate wine consumption has been linked to myriad health advantages, cardiovascular benefits chief among them.
A study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association focused specifically on the effects of alcohol consumption on arterial stiffness. The researchers gathered data that spanned 25 years and involved more than 3,800 subjects. Based on arterial pressure measured by pulse-wave velocity over a span of four to five years, the researchers found that, among men, moderate drinkers (those who drank the alcoholic equivalent of 1 to 7 glasses of wine a week) had lower levels of arterial stiffness compared to both abstainers and heavy drinkers. While this is yet more evidence that moderate wine consumption may have cardiovascular benefits, consult your physician to determine the best dietary regimen for you.