Alcohol and Heart Attacks: Drinking is Heart-Healthy

The subject of alcohol and heart attacks is important. Moderate drinking reduces the risk of myocardial infarction.

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Heart attack is the common name name for myocardial infarction. It occurs when there is a sudden blockage in the heart’s blood supply. If this lasts too long it can cause heart damage or death.

Heart Attack Risk Factors and Symptoms

A number of things factors increase the risk of heart attack. Being

  • A tobacco smoker
  • Male
  • Older
  • Overweight
  • Hypertensive (having high blood pressure
  • Diabetic
  • Sedentary (not exercising)

alcohol and heart attacksSome risk factors can’t be changed. But most can. We can stop smoking. Exercise. Lose weight. Eat less fat. And we can follow our doctor’s advice.

Symptoms of a heart attack may include some of the following.

  • A feeling of heaviness in the chest
  • Pain in the arm, back, jaw or other areas of the upper body.
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Anxiety
  • Coughing
  • Short breath
  • Vomiting

If in doubt, get immediate medical help. Don’t take a chance.

Study of Alcohol and Heart Attacks

Researchers examined alcohol and heart attacks. They looked at 58,827 rural Norwegians for an average of 11.6 years. The residents of the region are almost all light drinkers or abstainers. The temperance movement is strong. There is no social pressure to drink. Abstainers are usually life-long teetotalers. Heavy drinking is rare. There are few ‘sick quitters’ among the abstainers.

The quantity and frequency of drinking was measured. This was at both the start and end of the study. During it, 2,966 study participants had a heart attack.

alcohol and heart attacksLight 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. Accounting for ‘sick quitters’ among abstainers had almost no effect on the results.

Frequency was more important than quantity of drinking in reducing the risk of heart attack.

The take-away on alcohol and heart attacks? Drinking frequently in moderation is good for the heart.

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References

  • Source:  Gemes, K., et al. Alcohol consumption is associated with a lower incidence of acute myocardial infarction. J. Intern. Med. Sept. 2015. doi: 10.1111/joim.12428.