Moderate Drinking Reduces Harmful Heart Plaque

Consuming one or two alcoholic drinks per day appears to reduce harmful plaque in coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart. This may he part of the reason that drinking in moderation is associated with such a dramatic reduction in risk of heart attack.

The research examined 1,795 subjects without heart disease who were evaluated for plaque buildup. Those subjects who consumed one to two alcoholic drinks per day had the fewest calcium deposits (an indicator of plaque buildup). The investigators found that “the risk of extensive coronary calcification was 50% lower in individuals who consumed 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks per day than in nondrinkers.” Abstainers had the highest most deposits, while those who consumed over two drinks per day had calcium deposits that fell between the other two levels.

The research is reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.


  • Vliegenthart, R., et al. Alcohol consumption and coronary calcification in a general population. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2004 (November 22), 164, 2355-2360.

Filed Under: Heart