Latest scientific news 04 December 2014

Chronic heavy drinking increases risk for ischaemic heart disease

A meta-analysis and review of the scientific evidence showed that the risk of ischaemic heart disease and other detrimental effects of a high intake of alcoholic beverages is increased in heavy drinkers.

Whereas moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, the risk of heavy drinking is not clear. Previous studies have been equivocal. Canadian researchers carried out a meta-analysis of population studies reporting on chronic heavy drinking and risk for ischaemic heart disease (IHD); some studies of individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) were included. Among men, the risk for IHD incidence (fatal and non-fatal events) among chronic heavy drinkers (on average ≥ 60 g pure alcohol/day) in comparison to lifetime abstainers was slightly but not significantly elevated. Among individuals with AUD, the risk of IHD mortality in comparison to the general population increased in men by 34 % and in women by 109%. The authors concluded that there is no consistent evidence for a protective effect from any type of chronic heavy drinking on IHD risk and those individuals with AUD were at a higher risk for ischaemic heart disease. Heavy drinking should thus be discouraged. Since very few studies were available for women, the conclusions of this meta-analysis apply to men only.

Roerecke M, Rehm J. Chronic heavy drinking and ischaemic heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Open Heart. 2014;1(1):e000135.

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