Disparities in associations of alcohol consumption to various cardiovascular conditions lead to separate consideration of several. These include (1) Alcoholic cardiomyopathy from chronic heavy drinking in susceptible persons. (2) Higher blood pressure (hypertension) in some heavier drinkers. (3) A relation of drinking to higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke but to lower risk of ischemic stroke. (4) Certain arrhythmias, especially among binge drinkers. (5) An inverse relation of alcohol use to coronary artery disease. A causal hypothesis of protection is strengthened by plausible mechanisms. The coronary disease data impact upon total mortality statistics, such that lighter drinkers are at slightly lower risk than abstainers of death within a given time period. (6) An inverse relation of drinking to type 2 (adult onset) diabetes mellitus in several recent studies. Because of close relations to cardiovascular disorders, diabetes is considered virtual cardiovascular "equivalent". (7) Composites of (1-6) result in a complex association between alcohol and the common heart failure syndrome. International comparisons suggest wine is more protective against coronary disease than liquor or beer. Reports of antioxidants, endothelial relaxants, and antithrombotic activity in wine (especially red) support hypothetical benefit from non-alcohol wine components. However, prospective population studies show apparent protection from beer, wine, or liquor. Thus, some suggest that favorable traits or drinking patterns of wine drinkers might explain the international comparison findings. Amount of alcohol taken is a crucial consideration in alcohol-health relations. Advice to concerned persons needs to take into account individual risk/benefit factors in drinkers or potential drinkers.
IssuePharmacol.Res. / pages 237-247 / volume 55
Published Datemarch 2007
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