Page last updated: June 27, 2018

Alcohol and CV Health: Jekyll and Hyde J-Curves

An article by James O’Keefe and colleagues, published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases weighs up the risks and benefits of light to moderate drinking.

A routine of light or moderate alcohol consumption (≤1 drink/day for women and 1 to 2 drinks/day for men) are associated with a lower risk for allcause mortality, coronary artery disease (CAD), type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D), heart failure (HF), and ischemic stroke, they state. Conversely, heavy drinking, (>4 drinks/day) is associated with an increased risk for death and cardiovascular (CV) disease (CVD). Excessive alcohol intake trails behind only smoking and obesity among the 3 leading causes of premature deaths in the United States (US). Heavy alcohol use is a common cause of reversible hypertension (HTN), nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation (AF), and stroke (both ischemic and hemorrhagic). Among males aged 15 to 59 years, alcohol abuse is a leading cause of premature death. As such, the risk-to-benefit ratio of drinking is less favourable in younger individuals.

A daily habit of light to moderate drinking is ideal for those who choose to consume alcohol regularly. Red wine in particular before or during the evening meal is linked with the best long-term CV outcomes. Most of the studies on alcohol and health are observational, and correlation does not prove causation.

The authors stress that health care professionals should not advise non drinkers to begin drinking because of the paucity of randomised outcome data coupled with the potential for alcohol abuse even among seemingly low risk individuals.

Source: Alcohol and CV Health: Jekyll and Hyde J-Curves. O’Keefe EL, Di Nicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Lavie CJ. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2018 Feb 16. pii: S0033-0620(18)30038-0.

doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2018.02.001
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