Interested in the topic of drinking alcohol and heart health? You’ve come to the right place. Here you can read descriptions of scientific studies on the subject and find other resources.
Beer, wine and distilled spirits appear to have the same general health and longevity benefits. Spirits include rum, vodka, tequila, gin, whiskey, and similar drinks.
The benefits come basically from the alcohol itself. And standard drinks of beer, wine, and spirits have the same amount of pure alcohol. That is, six-tenths of one ounce each.
A standard drink is a
- 12 ounce can or bottle of beer.
- 5 ounce glass of dinner wine.
- Shot (1.5 ounce) of spirits.I.
I. Abstainers Who Begin to Drink Benefit
Middle-aged non-drinkers who began drinking in moderation experienced a 38% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. That’s in comparison to those who continued abstaining.
This is very important. That’s because it shows that was drinking rather than other factors that improves health and longevity.
II. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Drinking beer and wine in moderation was associated with a much lower risk of developing a dangerous abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Read more at Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and Alcohol Consumption.
III. Aortic Valve Sclerosis
Researchers found that light to moderate drinking was linked with a lower risk of aortic valve sclerosis. Heavy drinking increased that risk.
Discover more at Risk of Aortic Valve Sclerosis Reduced by Drinking Alcohol.
IV. Cardiometabolic Risk
Cardiometabolic risk describes a person’s chances of damaging their heart and blood vessels. Risk factors include obesity, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. Multiple factors greatly increase the cardiovascular risk.
In a randomized clinical trial, researchers found that moderate drinking with dinner decreases cardiovascular disease risk.
Find more at Alcohol and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors.
V. Cardiovascular Disease
Researchers systematic reviewed and meta-analyzed prospective cohort studies. They analyzed 59 studies that involved 5,358,902 women.
Not smoking was the single most important way to reduce the risk of CVD, CVD mortality, and all-cause mortality. Maintaining proper weight was also important in reducing those risks. Drinking alcohol in moderation greatly reduced risk as did being physically active.
VI. Cardiovascular Disease
Researchers studied nearly two million adults who were followed over time. Moderate drinkers had lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than non-drinkers, former drinkers, or heavy drinkers.
Explore more at Alcohol and Cardiovascular Disease: Moderate Drinking is Protective.
VII. Cardiovascular Disease Patient Deaths
The risk of cardiovascular death dropped by 22% among those who had about two drinks daily. All-cause death also dropped greatly.
VIII. Cardiovascular Health
Researchers reviewed the research. They found that light to moderate drinking is associated with a much lower risk of all-cause death. That’s in comparison with non-drinking or abstaining from alcohol.
They also found that it’s associated with much lower risks of coronary artery disease. In addition, it was much lower for type 2 diabetes, heart failure, and ischemic stroke.
IX. Cardiovascular Death
Researchers analyzed drinking and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. They did so from data in nine large representative samples of the U.S. population. Each followed individuals over time.
They found that light and moderate drinking greatly reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Find more at Drinking Alcohol and Risk of Cardiovascular Death.
X. Cardiovascular Disease and Hypertension
Researchers studied 10,530 hypertensive women. That is, women with high blood pressure.
They found that moderate drinking is associated with greatly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to lifetime abstainers.
XI. Coronary Artery Disease (Heart Disease)
Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Another common name for coronary heart disease is heart disease.
The medical evidence shows that drinking alcohol in moderation leads to lower risk of coronary artery disease. That’s one of the reasons it generally leads to longer life.
Investigators reviewed research on the effects of drinking alcohol on diabetes, cardiovascular health, and death They focused at type 2 or adult-onset diabetes.
They found that light and moderate drinking decreases the risk of developing diabetes. That’s according to most studies.
Among diabetics, light and moderate drinking reduces risk of other diseases and all-cause death. Of course, this is also the case in the general population.
XIII. Diabetes (Adult Onset or Type 2 Diabetes)
The research shows that moderate drinking is beneficial for type 2 diabetes. And the evidence is overwhelming.
XIV. Drinking Over Guidelines Beneficial
In this cross-over study, researchers studied postmenopausal women. Thus, half the women drank alcohol. Then they abstained while the other half drank.
During the periods when participants were drinking alcohol, blood factors associated with poor cardiovascular health dropped greatly.
These health benefits were obtained from drinking alcohol far in excess of official U.S. guidelines for women. That’s because those guidelines are based on political and cultural factors. Unfortunately, they’re not based on medical ones.
Learn more about the study at Cardiovascular Health Benefitted from Drinking Over Guidelines
XV. Exercise vs. Alcohol
Researchers studied about 12,000 people for 20 years. They found that moderate drinking and exercising are not interchangeable. Instead, they are cumulative in their positive effects on the cardiovascular system.
Doing one is better than nothing. But doing both is the best choice. This greatly reduces the risk of death from heart disease. And the same is also true for all-cause mortality
Exercise your right to visit Exercise vs. Alcohol for Heart Health (Which is Better?)
XVI. Hardening of the Arteries (Atherosclerosis)
Moderate drinking reduces the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in the general population. It’s the most common cause of cardiovascular disease. And also, cardiovascular diseases are the biggest cause of deaths around the world.
Researchers wanted to see if this also applies to HIV+ persons. They found that heavy drinking was not associated with risk of developing atherosclerosis in men or women. That’s in comparison with abstinent/low consumption.
Moderate drinking was associated with 54% lower risk for getting the disease in men. But it didn’t reduce it in women.
They concluded that such drinking was associated with a dramatic protective effect on developing atherosclerosis in HIV+ men.
Find more at Alcohol Drinking and Atherosclerosis among HIV+ Persons.
XVII. Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarctiion)
Light and moderate drinking reduced heart attacks. A one drink increment in daily consumption reduced risk by 28%. This was after adjusting for major heart disease risk factors. As other studies report, requency was more important than quantity of drinking in reducing the risk of heart attack.
Discover more is at Alcohol and Heart Attacks: Drinking is Heart-Healthy.
XVIII. Heart Attacks and Strokes
Researchers studied data from 204,557 people for an average of 9.1 years. Moderate alcohol drinkers had lower risk of stroke, heart attack, and all-cause mortality. However, the risk of all-cause mortality was higher among heavy drinkers.
More about the research is at Effects of Alcohol on Risk of Strokes and Heart Attacks.
XIX. Heart Attack Survival
Research studies show that drinking alcohol improves heart attack survival. This is true of drinking both before and after a heart attack.
Learn more about the research at Heart Attack Survival Increased by Drinking Alcohol.
XX. Heart Failure
The lowest rate of heart failure was among those who had up to seven drinks per week. Next was those having seven to fourteen drinks per week. Finally, those who had over 14 drinks per week had a heart failure rate nearing that of the abstainers. However, no level of alcohol intake had a higher risk of heart failure than that of lifetime abstainers.
There’s more at Drinking Alcohol and Heart Failure Connected.
XXI. Heart Failure Risk among Men
Researchers studied 33,760 men age 45 to 79 at the beginning of the study. They then followed them for 14 years.
The researchers found that having seven to 14 drinks weekly gave the greatest protection. It led to a 19% lower heart failure risk. That’s compared to abstainers.
See more at Heart Failure Risk among Men.
XXII. How Alcohol Reduces Risk
Describes some of the many known ways in which moderate drinking reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack. In short, it explains the dynamics of alcohol and heart health.
Learn the specifics at How Alcohol Reduces Risk of Heart Attacks and other Cardiovascular Diseases.
More Resources on Alcohol and Heart Health
Am Heart Assn. Controlling Your Risk Factors. NY: AHA, 2019.
Butterfield, C. Lower Cholesterol. Reduce Blood Pressure & Stress. Melbourne: Wilkinson, 2015.
Clark, P. Diabetes [Cookbook for diabetics.] Sydney, N.S.W. Bauer, 2017.
Fuhrman, J. and Pruden, J. The End of Heart Disease. The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent Heart Disease. NY: Harper, 2016.
Heart Dis and Stroke Prev Prog. Are You at Risk of a Heart Attack? Bismarck: The Program, 2016.
____________. Common Warning Signs of a Heart Attack. Bismarck: The Program, 2016. (webpage)
Marler, J. Stroke for Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley, 2013.
Nardo, D. Cardiovascular Disease and Diet. Farmington Hills, MI: Lucent, 2015.
Purcell, J., et al. Heart Attack. What’s Ahead? A Guide for Heart Attack Survivors and Those Who Love Them. Atlanta: Pritchett & Hull, 2012.
Rinzler, C, and Graf, M. Controlling Cholesterol for Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley, 2013.
Samaan, R. Dietary Fiber for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. London: Elsevier, 2017.
Seshadri, S. and Debette, S. Risk Factors for Stroke. NY: Oxford U Press, 2016.
Swift, C., and Clark, N. Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes. NY: Alpha, 2015.
Taylor, L, et al. Can I Tell You about Having a Stroke? A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals. London: Kingsley, 2015.
Villegas, A. and Sanchez-Tainta, A. The Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease through Diet. London: Academic, 2018. (Practical advice about alcohol and heart health.)