[Alcohol, the heart and cardiovascular system].Ther Umsch 2000; 57(4):200-4TU
Any advice about the consumption of alcohol must take into account not only the relation between alcohol and cardiovascular disease but also the well-known association of heavy consumption of alcohol with a large number of health risks. Numerous observational studies have consistently demonstrated a reduction of coronary heart disease with moderate consumption of alcohol. Consumption of 1 or 2 drinks per day is associated with a reduction in risk of dying from coronary heart disease of approx. 30-50%. A drink equivalent amounts to a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof spirits. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that there is a J-shaped relation between alcohol consumption and total mortality. The lowest mortality occurs in those who consume 1 or 2 drinks per day. A stepwise decline in coronary heart disease death occurs with increasing drinks per day. Because coronary heart disease accounts for 1/3 or more of total death, people with no alcohol consumption have higher total mortality than those drinking 1 to 2 drinks per day. Conversely, mortality due to a large number of other diseases increases with an increasing number of drinks consumed per day. The protective effects of alcoholic against coronary heart disease are mainly related to an increase in HDL cholesterol. A number of other mechanisms have been proposed including effects of alcohol on blood clotting and non-alcoholic components of alcoholic beverages, particularly in red wine and dark beer, which may have antioxidant properties. Harmful effects of alcohol on the cardiovascular system include congestive cardiomyopathy, systemic hypertension and cerebral vascular incidents. There is a direct correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed during lifetime and a reduction in left ventricular ejection fraction.