Moderate alcohol use not bad after heart attack

Drinking up to 10 alcoholic beverages a week does not increase the risk of heart failure in patients who’ve had a heart attack, new research shows. Whether it’s safe to consume more than this amount is unclear.

Although research has suggested that alcohol use protects against coronary heart disease, the most common type, there is some evidence that because of its chemical effects, alcohol may raise the risk of heart failure.

To investigate, Dr. David Aguilar, from the University of Texas in Houston, and colleagues assessed the outcomes of 2231 participants in the Survival And Ventricular Enlargement (SAVE) trial, a study of patients who had experienced a heart attack and were at risk for heart failure.

Based on their alcohol use, the subjects were classified as nondrinkers, light-to-moderate drinkers (up to 10 drinks per week), or heavy drinkers (more than 10 drinks per week). The researchers’ findings are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

There was no evidence that light-to-moderate alcohol use increased the risk of heart failure. By contrast, there was a suggestion that heavy alcohol use may have raised the risk, but there were not enough subjects to confirm this association, Aguilar said in a statement.

“We were pretty much in the dark about what to do with these patients when someone in the clinic would ask, ‘Should I stop drinking?’,” Aguilar noted…“It’s probably all right, as long as we stress moderation,” he added.

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, June 2, 2004.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD