Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Moderate Drinking Cuts Heart Event Risks by 38%

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Moderate Drinking Cuts Heart Event Risks by 38%

Article excerpt

COLORADO SPRINGS -- Former non-drinkers who initiated moderate alcohol consumption in middle age experienced a 38% reduction in cardiovascular events over 4 years, compared with continued nondrinkers in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.

"The current American Heart Association guidelines state that moderate alcohol consumption at this level can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but caution that if you don't already drink, don't start. This research challenges that policy. A 38% lower chance of having an acute MI or stroke is extremely significant. That's a bigger effect than you'd expect with initiation of statin therapy," said Dr. Dana E. King, who is professor of family medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston.

Results were presented at a conference on cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention sponsored by the American Heart Association.

Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) is an ongoing National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-sponsored prospective epidemiologic study of 15,792 black and white men and women aged 45-64 at entry who are free of known cardiovascular disease and diabetes in four geographically diverse communities across the United States.

During the first 6 years, 7,697 enrollees who were nondrinkers at baseline began moderate consumption of alcohol, defined in accord with the AHA and American Diabetes Association as not more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.

An additional 0.4% of former nondrinkers began heavier drinking, Dr. King said 38%.

During the next 4 years of follow-up, the combined rate of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events was 6.9% among new moderate drinkers and 10.7% in the continued teetotalers.

After adjustment for age, race, sex, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and physical activity, adoption of moderate alcohol intake remained an independent protective factor against cardiovascular events, with an associated 38% relative risk reduction. …

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