Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health (How Much to Drink for Good Health and Long Life)

I. Cardiovascular Health.

Researchers summarized the medical findings about drinking alcohol and cardiovascular  health. They reported on several things. One was all-cause mortality. That is, death from any cause. They also reported on coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart failure, and ischemic stroke, among others.

                    Overview

I.   Cardiovascular Health

II.  Signs of a Heart Attack

III. Signs of a Stroke

IV.  Resources on Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health

They defined light to moderate drinking as up to one standard drink per day for women. It was up to two daily for men. The drinks can be beer, wine, or distilled spirits. (Spirits are whiskey, rum, tequila, vodka, gin, etc.)

The researchers reported that such drinking is associated with a significantly lower risk of all-cause death. That’s in comparison with non-drinking or abstaining from alcohol.

alcohol and cardiovascular

Standard Drinks

Light to moderate drinking is also associated with much lower risks of coronary artery disease. It was also much lower for type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart failure, and ischemic stroke.

However, there can be too much of a good thing. Heavy drinking can increase the risks of poor health. The authors defined heavy drinking as having five or more drinks per day.

Heavy drinking increases the risks of death and certain diseases. They include cardiovascular disease, reversible hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

Light to moderate drinking (especially on a daily basis) is associated with better health and longer life. However, heavy or abusive drinking is associated with the risks of poor health and shorter life.

Source: O’Keefe E., et al. Alcohol and CV Health: Jekyll and Hyde J-Curves. Prog Cardio Dis, 2018, Feb 16. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2018.02.001.

Discover more at Alcohol and Health: Medical Findings for Health and Long Life.

II. Signs of a Heart Attack

The American Heart Association identifies common symptoms of heart attacks.

  • Chest pain.
  • Discomfort in shoulder or arm (one or both arms).
  • Having cold sweats
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Shortness of breath.

Heart attacks may occur suddenly. However, most begin slowly. They cause discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain might go away and then return.

If in doubt, call 911. Better safe than sorry dead.

III. Signs of a Stroke

The American Stroke Association suggests using “FAST” to remember symptoms of stroke. It’s easy to do.

F – Face Drooping. Is one side of the face sagging?
A – Arm Weakness. Is one arm weak or numb?
S – Speech Difficulty. Is speech hard to understand?
T – Time to Call 911!

Call 911 if even one of these symptoms happens. And call even if the symptom goes away. Also, notice the time when a symptom first appeared. This helps doctors save your life.

Other symptoms of stroke can include one or more of these.

  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Unusual or unsteady walk.
  • Very painful headache.
  • Vision problems suddenly appear.
  • Weakness on one side of the  body.

IV. Resources: Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health

Barrett, K. and Meschia, J. Stroke. Chichester, Eng: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program. Are You at Risk of a Heart Attack? Bismarck: The Program, 2016. (webpage)

____________. Common Warning Signs of a Heart Attack. Bismarck: The Program, 2016. (webpage)

Purcell, J., et al. Heart Attack, What’s Ahead? A Guide for Heart Attack Survivors and Those Who Love Them. Atlanta: Pritchett & Hull, 2012.

Seshadri, S. and Debette, S. Risk Factors for Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke. NY: Oxford U Press, 2016.

Turner, G., et al. Recognizing and Surviving Heart Attacks and Strokes. Lifesaving Advice You Need Now. Columbia: U Missouri Press, 2008.