Latest scientific news 01 July 2014

Can a moderate intake of alcoholic beverages reduce the risk of heart attacks in all countries?

The results of the INTERHEART study, carried out by Canadian and UK researchers in 52 countries, confirmed that in most participants, moderate levels of alcohol intake were associated with a lower risk of heart attack. However, such a protective effect was not observed in South Asian countries.

While moderate intake of alcoholic beverages is associated with protection against myocardial infarction (MI), it is not known whether this is generalizable to populations worldwide and whether heavy episodic consumption negates any beneficial effect.

12,195 cases with a first MI were compared with 15,583 age- and sex-matched controls from 52 countries. The results showed that:

1) Moderate (but not high) levels of alcoholic beverages intake were associated with a moderate reduction in the risk of heart attack in most populations;

2) This protective effect was not seen in South Asia;

3) There is an increased risk of MI in the 24 hours after heavy episodic drinking, particularly in older individuals.

Leong DP, Smyth A, Teo KK, et al. on behalf of the INTERHEART investigators. Patterns of Alcohol Consumption and Myocardial Infarction Risk: Observations from 52 Countries in the INTERHEART Case-Control Study. Circulation. 2014 Jun 13. [Epub ahead of print]

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.