Heart Failure Risk among Men who Drink Alcohol

Heart failure risk is a major health problem around the world. Millions of people developing the disease each year. Both the personal and societal costs are huge.

Symptoms of heart failure.

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Swollen legs, ankles or feet.
  • Racing heartbeat.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Feeling of a full stomach without a reason.
  • Nausea.
  • Fatigue.
  • Mental confusion.

Heart failure risk factors.

  • An earlier heart attack.
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Obesity.
  • Diabetes.
  • Serious lung disease.
  • Sleep apnea.

Preventing the disease is especially important. It has a high death rate. Light and moderate drinking may help reduce heart failure risk.

Much research has found light to moderate drinking linked with reduced cardiovascular disease. It has also found such drinking associated with reduced heart failure.

Study of Heart Failure Risk

Researchers investigated the relationship between drinking and heart failure risk.  They studied 33,760 Swedish men age 45 to 79 at the beginning of the study. At that time they had no heart failure, diabetes mellitus or myocardial infarction. All former drinkers were excluded from the analysis. This  eliminated any biasing effects from ‘sick quitters’ among abstainers.

Over the follow-up period of 14 years, 2,916 of the men were either hospitalized (2,139) for or died (777) of heart failure. A U-shaped relationship was found between drinking level and heart failure risk.

Having seven to 14 drinks weekly gave the greatest protection. It led to a 19% lower heart failure risk. That’s compared to abstainers.

Source:  Dorans K.S., et al. Alcohol and Incident Heart Failure Among Middle-Aged and Elderly Men: The Cohort of Swedish Men. Circulation Heart Failure 2015; pre-publication. DOI:10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.114.001787.

 Readings

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  • Larsson, S.C., et al. Alcohol consumption and the risk of heart failure. Eur. J. Heart Fail. 2015, 17, 367’“373.
  • Padilla, H., et al. Alcohol consumption and the risk of heart failure. Phys. Sports Med. 2010, 38(3), 84-89.
  • Skotzko, C.E., et al. Alcohol use and congestive heart failure. Heart Fail Rev. 2009, 14(1), 51-55.