While heavy drinking may lead to the damage of heart and liver, you will be surprised to know that moderate drinking may actually benefit you. According to several studies related to alcohol consumption, it has been found that moderate drinking may reduce the risk of heart failure or cardiovascular diseases in individuals. In one of these studies, people who drank moderately (up to seven drinks/week) were found to be the ones with the lowest rate of heart failure. Such results may be due to the way people metabolize alcohol.
Issues that lead to heart failure
Talking about heart failure, it occurs when our heart is unable to pump the blood as it otherwise does. A common reason for this to happen is damage to heart muscles. It may happen due to several issues, such as cardio problems, high blood pressure or heart muscle disease. The condition of heart failure may also develop due to irregular heartbeat, problems of heart valve or viral infections. Apart from all these reasons, several other issues may lead to heart failure. It is a widespread problem and more than 20 million people worldwide have been living with it.
The study and its working
In such a scenario, it becomes important to learn about the beneficial effects of anything that may lower the risk of heart failure. The positive role of moderate drinking has been well highlighted by a major study conducted by the researchers at a Boston-based facility called the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. These researchers conducted a study to find out the relationship between alcohol consumption and heart failure risk. Their study included subjects who had an average age of 54 years. The participants in this study were followed for around 24 years.
With a good control on the required factors, it was observed how different alcohol consumption levels affected the risk of developing heart failure. The participants were interviewed on phone, as well as in person during their visits to meet the researchers. The data related to the amount of consumed alcohol was captured through varied methods. When the amount of drinks was quantified, one unit of drink was considered to be equal to 14g of alcohol. In UK terms, the same would equal 8g of alcohol. The study relied on several data records from the hospital and national death records when it came to identifying the cases that developed heart failure.
When the study came to its conclusion, it was found that there were major differences among people in varied categories of alcohol consumption levels. While heavy drinkers were the ones who mostly faced heart failure, it was also found that people having up to seven drinks a week were at the lowest risk of heart failure. These low-risk people were the ones drinking moderately. In fact, they were found to be 20% less likely to have this problem as compared to people who never drank. The same results were found for both men and women.
At the time of concluding their findings, researchers indicated that if people in their early middle age start drinking moderately (up to seven drinks a week or 12 UK units a week), then they can reduce their risk of heart failure. Although the risk is significantly reduced in men, it is also beneficial for women. As this longitudinal study was conducted carefully and precisely, it proved quite reliable as a basis for several other studies that were later conducted. Still, several researchers around the world are examining this relationship between moderate drinking and low risk of heart failure. However, all such studies at least indicate that people should drink within the recommended limits if they do drink.
Alcohol consumption in moderation is an unlikely ally for the heart. While overuse can increase the risk of heart failure, having about seven drinks spread over a week can be very beneficial.