Study: Moderate Drinking Can Benefit People With Heart Disease

With an emphasis on "moderate"

A pint
Moderate drinking might be good for the heart.
Dan Barrett/Unsplash

Noted philosopher and historian Homer Simpson once called alcohol “the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” When it comes to people’s health, that may be more accurate than you might expect. There are a host of health issues associated with drinking to excess, but it turns out that drinking in moderation has a lot to offer. That, at least, is one of the conclusions of a new study published in the journal BMC Medicine.

“Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption has been reported to be cardio-protective among apparently healthy individuals; however, it is unclear whether this association is also present in those with disease,” write the study’s authors. And — spoiler alert — the answer is affirmative. The study, they write, focused on patients who had had “a previous myocardial infarction, angina, or stroke” to explore their subsequent habits and health.

Writing at VinePair, Ilana Davis has a good distillation of the study’s conclusions. “For patients with heart disease, drinking an average of six grams of alcohol each day resulted in a 50-percent risk reduction of stroke, heart attack, and even death,” Davis writes. The risk reduction was less than that, but still present, for those who drank eight grams of alcohol daily.

Admittedly, that’s not a lot of alcohol — Davis points out that six grams of alcohol is less than half of what’s found in most cans of beer or glasses of wine. As the scientists writing at BMC Medicine point out, this is less about getting people to start drinking very small glasses of beer and more about existing drinkers with cardiovascular issues moderating their behavior to take advantage of alcohol’s beneficial effects on their condition.


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