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Does moderate drinking lower risk of heart failure?
To examine the association between moderate drinking and heart failure, researchers assessed data from 21,601 male participants in the Physicians’ Health Study who were free of heart failure at that study’s baseline.

Analyses were adjusted for potential confounders (i.e., age, smoking, body mass index, and valvular heart disease). During an average follow-up of 18 years, 904 incident cases of heart failure occurred.

The risk of heart failure decreased as drinking increased (hazard ratios, 0.9 for 1–4 drinks per week, 0.8 for 5–7 drinks per week, and 0.6 for >7 drinks per week versus <1 drink per week; P for trend=0.01).

Drinking was not significantly associated with the risk of heart failure in subjects without antecedent myocardial infarction or coronary artery disease (CAD).

R Curtis Ellison, MD comments: ‘These results support what many, but not all, recent prospective epidemiological studies have shown: a reduced risk of heart failure among moderate drinkers in comparison with nondrinkers (or, as in this study, occasional drinkers). This lower risk was found primarily in patients with heart failure and CAD, and therefore may result from alcohol’s protective effects on myocardial infarction or other consequences of CAD’.

Source: Djoussé L, Gaziano JM. Alcohol consumption and risk of heart failure in the Physicians’ Health Study I. Circulation. 2007;115(1):34–39.

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