Patterns of alcohol consumption and ischaemic heart disease in culturally divergent countries: the Prospective Epidemiological Study of Myocardial Infarction (PRIME)

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of alcohol intake patterns on ischaemic heart disease in two countries with contrasting lifestyles, Northern Ireland and France. DESIGN: Cohort data from the Prospective Epidemiological Study of Myocardial Infarction (PRIME) were analysed. Weekly alcohol consumption, incidence of binge drinking (alcohol >50 g on at least one day a week), incidence of regular drinking (at least one day a week, and alcohol <50 g if on only one occasion), volume of alcohol intake, frequency of consumption, and types of beverage consumed were assessed once at inclusion. All coronary events that occurred during the 10 year follow-up were prospectively registered. The relation between baseline characteristics and incidence of hard coronary events and angina events was assessed by Cox's proportional hazards regression analysis. SETTING: One centre in Northern Ireland (Belfast) and three centres in France (Lille, Strasbourg, and Toulouse). PARTICIPANTS: 9778 men aged 50-59 free of ischaemic heart disease at baseline, who were recruited between 1991 and 1994. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incident myocardial infarction and coronary death ("hard" coronary events), and incident angina pectoris. RESULTS: A total of 2405 men from Belfast and 7373 men from the French centres were included in the analyses, 1456 (60.5%) and 6679 (90.6%) of whom reported drinking alcohol at least once a week, respectively. Among drinkers, 12% (173/1456) of men in Belfast drank alcohol every day compared with 75% (5008/6679) of men in France. Mean alcohol consumption was 22.1 g/day in Belfast and 32.8 g/day in France. Binge drinkers comprised 9.4% (227/2405) and 0.5% (33/7373) of the Belfast and France samples, respectively. A total of 683 (7.0%) of the 9778 participants experienced ischaemic heart disease events during the 10 year follow-up: 322 (3.3%) hard coronary events and 361 (3.7%) angina events. Annual incidence of hard coronary events per 1000 person years was 5.63 (95% confidence interval 4.69 to 6.69) in Belfast and 2.78 (95% CI 2.41 to 3.20) in France. After multivariate adjustment for classic cardiovascular risk factors and centre, the hazard ratio for hard coronary events compared with regular drinkers was 1.97 (95% CI 1.21 to 3.22) for binge drinkers, 2.03 (95% CI 1.41 to 2.94) for never drinkers, and 1.57 (95% CI 1.11 to 2.21) for former drinkers for the entire cohort. The hazard ratio for hard coronary events in Belfast compared with in France was 1.76 (95% CI 1.37 to 2.67) before adjustment, and 1.09 (95% CI 0.79 to 1.50) after adjustment for alcohol patterns and wine drinking. Only wine drinking was associated with a lower risk of hard coronary events, irrespective of the country. CONCLUSIONS: Regular and moderate alcohol intake throughout the week, the typical pattern in middle aged men in France, is associated with a low risk of ischaemic heart disease, whereas the binge drinking pattern more prevalent in Belfast confers a higher risk

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Ruidavets J.B.; Ducimetiere P.; Evans A.; Montaye M.; Haas B.; Bingham A.; Yarnell J.; Amouyel P.; Arveiler D.; Kee F.; Bongard V.; Ferrieres J.
  • Issue

    BMJ / pages c6077- / volume 341
  • Published Date