Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Help Those with Cardiovascular Disease

Research finds that people who drank a glass of wine a day had a lower chance of a subsequent heart attack

Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Help Those with Cardiovascular Disease
A small amount of alcohol, about a glass a day, was linked with a lower incidence of a second heart attack. (Inti St Clair/Getty)
Aug 13, 2021

Medical research has repeatedly found links between moderate alcohol consumption and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke and heart valve issues. But doctors have also long advised patients that are suffering from cardiovascular disease to refrain from drinking. Recent research suggests that moderate consumption of alcohol, including wine, could prove beneficial in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure in those with cardiovascular disease.

In the study, researchers at University College London, University of Cambridge and University of Sydney collected data from multiple resources, including the U.K. Biobank Study, a biomedical database holding detailed health information from over 500,000 participants in the U.K. They published their findings in the journal BMC Medicine.

"Understanding how alcohol consumption is related to cardiovascular morbidity is of great importance to [cardiovascular disease] patients," the authors write. "This population is at high risk of recurring cardiovascular events, which can significantly compromise the patients' quality of life."

Researchers reviewed data of alcohol consumption levels in nearly 50,000 participants who had previously suffered heart attack, stroke or angina (severe chest pain). They then looked at subsequent cases of cardiovascular events over the next eight years. The results show that participants consuming up to 15 grams of alcohol a day (roughly one glass of wine), or a max of 105 grams a week, had the lowest chances of death and subsequent heart failure, attack or stroke. Among participants studied, those who consumed a moderate amount of alcohol were up to 50 percent less likely to experience a recurring cardiovascular event than those who did not drink at all.

The data did not distinguish between kinds of alcohol. And the authors note that they had limited data and long-term clinical trials to confirm their findings are needed. But they are hopeful that their research is a step in the right direction.

Their main takeaway, they write, is that patients do not have to stop drinking overall, but should be cautious of their intake. "Our findings suggest that people with cardiovascular disease may not need to stop drinking in order to prevent additional heart attacks, strokes or angina," lead author Chengyi Ding said in a statement. "But that they may wish to consider lowering their weekly alcohol intake."


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