Alcohol may be riskier for the heart than previously believed

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  • A new study looked at the link between alcohol consumption and risk of heart failure.
  • The study found that consuming high quantities of alcohol increases chances of heart failure.
  • Young men with a high BMI were more likely to be at risk.

New research has shown that levels of alcohol consumption considered safe in some countries are linked to the risk of developing heart failure.

The research was presented at Heart Failure 2022, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology that assessed the link between heart failure and alcohol consumption.

The study focused on 744 adults above 40 years of age who were at risk of developing heart failure due to risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart abnormalities – but had no symptoms.

The researchers observed participants over a median of 5.4 years. The study used the Irish definition of one standard drink, which is 10 grams of alcohol. The participants were divided into four groups according to their weekly alcohol intake, i.e. zero, small, moderate, and high amounts of alcohol.  

A more cautious approach

The study found that levels of alcohol that are generally considered safe actually increase the risk of heart failure.

A total of 27% of people reported no alcohol usage, while 48%were low users, and 25% had moderate or high alcohol intake. The findings show that those with moderate or high use were younger, more likely to be male, and had a higher body mass index compared to the low intake group.

The study also found that moderate or high intake is linked with a 4.5 times higher risk of deteriorating heart health.

"This study adds to the body of evidence that a more cautious approach to alcohol consumption is needed,” said study author Dr Bethany Wong 

“To minimise the risk of alcohol causing harm to the heart, if you don’t drink, don’t start. If you do drink, limit your weekly consumption to less than one bottle of wine or less than three-and-a-half 500 ml cans of 4.5% beer,” she said. 

READ | Facebook language may predict risk of dangerous drinking, new study suggests

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