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Alcohol Is Generally Beneficial for Your Heart

Alcohol has a reputation for being good for the heart when used in moderation. A decreased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease has been associated with daily wine consumption of roughly one glass for women and two glasses for men. (Of course, excessive drinking cancels these advantages and raises the risk of cardiac issues.)

Today, a new study involving almost two million people and published in The BMJ provides additional proof that drinking alcohol in moderation may be beneficial for most cardiac problems, but not all of them.

In a sizable sample of adult U.K. citizens, the researchers examined the relationship between alcohol intake and 12 different heart conditions. As the trial began, none of the participants had cardiovascular disease.

Compared to those who drank in moderation, non-drinkers had a higher risk for eight of the cardiac conditions, ranging from 12% to 56%. The most frequent cardiac conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes, and sudden heart deaths, are included in these eight conditions. In comparison to persons who drank one or two drinks of alcohol per day, non-drinkers had a 33% higher chance of unstable angina—a condition in which the heart doesn’t get enough blood flow—and a 56% higher risk of passing away suddenly from heart disease.

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Nevertheless, alcohol does not appear to offer protection against two forms of lesser strokes, which occur when blood supply to a portion of the brain is temporarily restricted, and instances of brain haemorrhage, which are four less common cardiac issues.

The results of the study are particularly intriguing because the researchers divided drinkers into groups that are generally combined in studies of this nature. Those who have never drank or who have given up drinking are frequently referred to as “non-drinkers” (who may have been heavy drinkers in the past, and so may have a higher risk of heart problems). This may have increased the risk of abstainers; in some circumstances, categorising persons in this way may have given alcohol consumption a better-looking cardiovascular health outcome than it actually

The new study does not explain why alcohol reduces the risk of some heart diseases but not others. Yet the study’s principal investigator, genetic epidemiologist Steven Bell of the University of Cambridge, notes that a different investigation intended to address that query is already under way. We are examining the relationships between many risk factors and the various diseases, he claims. Future research will also examine whether consuming wine versus beer or spirits, for example, has different consequences on the likelihood of developing heart disease.

In the interim, Bell claims that the findings ought to reassure those who partake in a few drinks of alcohol each week. But it shouldn’t force those who don’t drink now to start in order to prevent heart disease. He claims that because alcohol increases the risk of liver disease, there are safer alternatives to reduce risk, such as giving up smoking, exercising frequently, and eating a balanced diet.

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