Drinking red wine, even red wine that has had the alcohol removed, induces favorable effects on the arteries in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), according to the results of a small study conducted in Greece.
“We found that both types of red wine (regular or dealcoholized) reduce arterial stiffness in CAD patients which lasts for 90 minutes post-consumption,” said Dr. Emmanouil N. Karatzis from Alexandra University Hospital in Athens.
“This is very important considering the fact that CAD patients’ vessels are already stiff and this is a major cause of increased blood pressure and consequently increased risk for cardiovascular events,” the researcher added.
The fact that both types of red wine reduced arterial stiffness indicates that this effect could possibly be attributed to red wine’s antioxidants and not only to alcohol. “It is possible that antioxidants contained in red wine are very powerful and extremely significant for vessel function as we and other groups of investigators have shown,” Karatzis said.
Coronary artery disease is the term commonly used to describe the buildup of fatty deposits and fibrous tissue (plaques) inside the arteries that supply blood to the heart (the coronary arteries). This buildup is called atherosclerosis. Coronary atherosclerosis eventually can cause the coronary arteries to become significantly narrower, which decreases the blood supply to portions of the heart muscle and triggers a specific type of Chest pain called angina. Atherosclerosis also can cause a blood clot to form inside a narrowed coronary artery. When this happens, the result is a Heart Attack, which can cause significant damage to the heart muscle.
The findings of their study involving 15 CAD patients are reported in the American Journal of Hypertension. Dr. Karatzis’ team monitored arterial stiffness and blood pressure during fasting and 30, 60, and 90 minutes after they consumed 250 milliliters of regular or non-alcoholic red wine.
Both regular and non-alcoholic red wine significantly decreased arterial stiffness as well as central systolic blood pressure, the top reading of the blood pressure. Specifically, central systolic blood pressure fell 7.4 mm Hg and 5.4 mm Hg after consumption of red wine and non-alcoholic red wine, respectively.
Karatzis and colleagues emphasize that more study is needed to “clarify the exact mechanisms underlying the present observations.” It may be worthwhile to take direct measurements of total antioxidant capacity or isoprostanes early after drinking red wine.
They also make the point that whether long-term use of red wine, with or without alcohol, leads to an improvement in large artery properties, and to a decrease in cardiovascular risk in patients with CAD, remains to be explored.
SOURCE: American Journal of Hypertension, September 2005.
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD