Q: Is moderate wine consumption OK after having coronary bypass surgery?—Glenn, Bend, Ore.
A: Coronary bypass surgery is a procedure that restores blood flow to the heart by diverting circulation around a blocked artery, usually with blood vessels from the leg, arm or chest. While moderate wine consumption has been linked to a healthier heart, medical experts advise caution when considering alcohol consumption after surgery.
According to Dr. Michael Go, a vascular surgeon at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, it is best to avoid alcohol consumption completely in the post-operative period, especially if opioid-based medications have been prescribed.
"Combining alcohol with these medications is dangerous and can cause respiratory depression," Dr. Go told Wine Spectator via email. "When a patient is no longer taking pain medication after surgery, it is reasonable to resume low to moderate alcohol intake." He says that patients can often resume drinking two weeks after surgery, but if recovery lasts longer, it is best to wait before opening your favorite bottle.
Dr. Go also warns that it’s common for food and drink consumption to be limited after cardiovascular surgery, which may cause dehydration. "In these situations, the effects of alcohol can be amplified, and tolerance levels will be decreased."
Although red wine consumption won't do much to reverse or treat existing cardiovascular disease, Dr. Go says a glass of wine after full recovery is OK, but moderation (one to two glasses per day) is key. Consult your physician before incorporating wine as part of a healthy diet.—Shawn Zylberberg