In a new, long-term study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Dutch research institute TNO Quality of Life and Wageningen University, the Netherlands, found that, among hypertensive men, moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a decreased risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attack. The researchers also found that rates of stroke and death from heart disease and all causes did not differ for hypertensive men who drank moderate amounts of alcohol and those who drank no alcohol.
“This was the first study to our knowledge that examined the risk of heart attacks among men with high blood pressure who drank moderately. Because excess alcohol intake clearly increases blood pressure, many men with hypertension are counselled not to drink, but our results suggest that may not be necessary if men drink safely and responsibly,” said lead author Joline Beulens, a PhD-fellow at TNO Quality of Life and Wageningen University.
The researchers analyzed data from 11,711 hypertensive men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which was launched in 1986. Every four years, participants filled out a survey and noted the frequency with which they drank beer, red wine, white wine and liquor. Cases of non-fatal Myocardial Infarction (MI), fatal heart disease and stroke were documented 1986 to 2002.
The results showed that, during that time span, 653 cases of total MI were documented, 279 fatal and 374 non-fatal. The authors found that consuming one to two drinks a day was associated with a decreased risk of fatal and non-fatal MI. No association was observed between alcohol consumption and risks of cardiovascular and total mortality. The study also investigated whether men changed their alcohol consumption after hypertension was diagnosed and whether specific alcoholic beverages or number of drinking days per week influenced the risk of heart attack.
Source: Alcohol Consumption and Risk for Coronary Heart Disease Among Men With Hypertension,” Joline W.J. Beulens, Eric B. Rimm, Alberto Ascherio, Donna Spiegelman, Henk F.J. Hendriks, Kenneth J. Mukamal, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007; 146:10-19.