21 february 2022

Trajectories of alcohol consumption in relation to all-cause mortality in patients with cardiovascular disease: a 35-year prospective cohort study

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Research into alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients' prognosis has largely ignored the longitudinal dynamics in drinking behaviour. This study measured the association between alcohol consumption trajectories and mortality risk in CVD patients. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

SETTING: UK-based Whitehall II Study. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1306 participants with incident non-fatal CVD (coronary heart disease/stroke) events.

MEASUREMENTS: Up to eight repeated measures of alcohol intake were available for each patient from the most recent assessment phase pre-incident CVD and all subsequent phases post-incident CVD, spanning up to three decades. Six trajectory groups of alcohol consumption were identified using group-based trajectory modelling and related to the risk of all-cause mortality, adjusting for demographics and changes in life-style and health status.

FINDINGS: Three hundred and eighty deaths were recorded during a median follow-up of 5 years after patients' last alcohol assessment. Compared with patients who consistently drank moderately (</= 14 units/week), former drinkers had a greater risk of mortality (hazard ratio = 1.74, 95% confidence interval = 1.19-2.54) after adjustment for covariates. There was no significantly increased risk of mortality in long-term abstainers, reduced moderate drinkers, stable or unstable heavy drinkers. Cross-sectional analyses based only on drinking information at patients' last assessment found no significant differences in mortality risk for abstainers, former or heavy drinkers versus moderate drinkers.

CONCLUSIONS: Cardiovascular disease patients who consistently drink </= 14 units/week appear to have a similar risk of mortality to those who are long-term abstainers, which does not support a protective effect of moderate drinking on total mortality. Cardiovascular disease patients who stop drinking appear to have increased mortality risk compared with continuous moderate drinkers, but this may be linked to poor self-rated health before cardiovascular disease onset.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    O'Neill D.; Ding C.; Britton A.
  • Issue

    Addiction . 2022 Feb 21. doi: 10.1111/add.15850
  • Published Date

    21 february 2022