New Study Says ‘Light-to-Moderate’ Alcohol Consumption May Help Those with Heart Disease

by Chris Haney

A recent study of almost 50,000 patients with heart disease suggests that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption could offer some protective benefits.

BMC Medicine published a research article with the study’s findings on Tuesday. The study is based on a sample field consisting of exactly 48,423 patients. In addition, thousands of the patients have a track record of myocardial infarction, angina, or stroke. 

The article noted that each individual’s lifestyle and dietary habits are a major factor in the secondary prevention of heart disease. It also claims that alcohol consumption’s impact on patients’ prognosis is still unclear. In fact, the suggested guidelines vary greatly about the recommended intake when it comes to higher limits of intake.

“While light-to-moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing multiple cardiovascular outcomes in general population cohorts, it is difficult to extend the posited cardio-protective effects to CVD patients because of their typically older age and compromised vasculature as well as the medications they take to prevent secondary events,” researchers wrote, according to the BMC Medicine article

New Study Analyzed Patients Until Death or Heart Disease Detection

The patient sample from the new study included both former drinkers and current drinkers. Researchers separated the two groups and broke them down even further. The study broke current individuals who still drink into three other groups. Those included low-level drinkers, medium-level drinkers and high-level drinkers. The lengthy analysis of each patient continued throughout their life until they passed away or doctors detected a cardiovascular event

As researchers analyzed their data, they also compared it to 12 other published studies. They discovered similarities in all the studies. Specifically, they discovered J-curve relationships between mortality and alcohol consumption in heart disease patients. Furthermore, patients with light alcohol consumption had the largest reduction in mortality rates. 

“In summary, our study shows that an alcohol intake up to about 105g (or equivalent to 13 UK units, with one unit equal to half a pint of beer/lager/cider, half a glass of wine, or one measure of spirits) a week is associated with lower risks of both mortality and subsequent cardiovascular events among CVD patients,” the research article said.

The researchers suggest that those who actively drink do not need to quit for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. However, researchers want drinkers to stay informed. Lower levels of alcohol intake could reduce heart disease risks. That said, they also do not encourage non-drinking patients to start even light levels of consumption.

The research team did admit the study has its limits as well. They suggest that drinkers take the research results with caution. Especially within subgroups that researchers “examined in only a limited number of studies.”

In review, the new study basically states that those who consume low levels of alcohol have no need to adjust their lifestyle. Others who drink heavily may want to consider reducing their intake to prevent heart disease risks.