Good Health! Hospital Prescribes Red Wine for Its Heart Patients; Just What the Doctor Ordered: Two Glasses a Day

Article excerpt

Byline: TIM HALL

LOVERS of red wine have always had the excuse that their favourite tipple has certain health benefits.

Scientists and doctors have long claimed it is good for the heart - and now a hospital is prescribing the drink on its wards. Nurses are giving heart patients at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon two glasses a day.

Research has shown that a regular, moderate amount of red wine can cut the chances of having a heart attack by 50 per cent and a stroke by 20 per cent.

The hospital believes it is the first in Europe to use the science to help patients.

The scheme is certain to raise eyebrows among traditionalists in the medical profession, although the hospital has stressed it will not encourage patients with alcohol problems to have wine.

The prescription is the idea of heart surgeon Dr William McCrea.

He said the antioxidants in red wine help prevent blood clotting and stop the build-up of cholesterol in blood vessels.

The wine is being paid for by the hospital's charity, not the NHS.

The scheme is proving popular on the wards, where patients say they can feel the tipple doing them good.

Dr McCrea said the idea came from looking at the health statistics of the French.

'They consume twice the amount of fat we do, they smoke more, and they don't do any more exercise than us, but their rate of deaths from heart attacks is half of ours,' he added.

'What's the difference? They drink red wine like we drink tea. It's their drinking behaviour that's imporaftertant. The British don't drink alcohol regularly, but when we do, we drink to excess. They don't, as a rule.' He said studies had even shown a difference between the beer drinkers of northern France and their countrymen in the south, where more wine is drunk.

However, he stressed: 'Reports on red wine have not always taken into account things like the smoking habits, socio-economic group, psychological profile and exercise of people.

'You have to take it as a package - it's obviously no good just on its own.'

His patients have to have the two glasses a day even if they don't like wine, he said. …