Even Moderate Alcohol Use Can Damage the Heart

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Levels of alcohol consumption currently considered safe in some countries are associated with heart failure (ESC), according to studies presented at Heart Failure 2022, a scientific convention of the European Society of Cardiology.

According to the World Health Organization, the European Union is the region with the highest alcohol consumption. Long-term severe alcohol consumption is known to induce alcoholic cardiomyopathy, a type of heart failure, but research from Asian populations suggests that lower levels may also be harmful. Because there are genetic and environmental differences between Asian and European populations, this study examined whether there is a similar association between alcohol and cardiac changes among Europeans at risk for heart failure or heart failure. “The cornerstone of treatment for this population is the management of risk factors such as alcohol use; therefore, awareness of safe levels is essential.”

This was a secondary review of the STOP-HF clinical trial. The study included 744 people over the age of 40 who were at risk of developing heart failure due to risk factors (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity) or had pre-existing heart failure (risk factors and heart abnormalities, but not heart failure). symptoms). The average age was 66.5, and 53 percent of the population was female. The study excluded previous drinkers and individuals with symptoms of heart failure (eg, shortness of breath, fatigue, decreased ability to exercise, swelling of the ankles). Echocardiography was used to measure heart function at baseline and at follow-up.

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The research used the Irish definition of a standard beverage (one unit) that is 10 grams of alcohol. Participants were classified according to their weekly alcohol consumption: 1) none; 2) low (less than seven units; one 750ml bottle up to 12.5 percent wine or three and a half 500ml cans 4.5 percent beer); 3) medium (seven to fourteen units; up to two bottles of 12.5 percent wine or seven 500-mL cans of 4.5 percent beer); 4) high (more than 14 units; more than two bottles of 12.5 percent wine or seven 500 ml cans of 4.5 percent beer).

Moderate Alcohol Use Can Harm the Heart

Researchers studied the link between alcohol consumption and heart health for an average of 5.4 years. Results for at-risk and pre-heart failure groups were reported separately. In the at-risk group, deterioration of heart health was defined as the development of pre- or symptomatic heart failure. For the pre-heart failure group, worsening heart health was defined as deterioration in the heart’s compression or relaxation functions or progression to heart failure with symptoms. The analyzes took into account age, gender, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

A total of 201 patients (27%) claimed to abstain from alcohol consumption, 356 (48%) were using low alcohol consumption and 187 (25%) were consuming moderate or high alcohol consumption. Those with moderate or high intakes were younger, more likely to be male, and had a higher body mass index than those with low intakes.

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In the pre-heart failure group, moderate or heavy alcohol consumption was 4.5 times more likely to worsen heart health compared to abstinence. Separate analyzes of the mid and high levels revealed the same relationship. In the at-risk group, neither moderate nor heavy alcohol consumption was associated with progression to heart failure or symptomatic heart failure. No protective link has been reported for reducing alcohol use.

Dr. Wong said: “According to our study, drinking more than 70g of alcohol per week is linked to worsening heart failure or progression to symptomatic heart failure in Europeans. We did not see any benefit from low alcohol consumption. Our findings suggest that governments should advocate lower safe alcohol consumption limits for pre-heart failure patients. For example, in Ireland people at risk of or experiencing heart failure are advised to limit their weekly alcohol consumption to 11 units for women and 17 units for men. For men, this restriction is significantly higher than what we determined to be safe. More work is needed in Caucasian populations to harmonize the results and eliminate the conflicting messages currently received by doctors, patients and the general public.”

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