Beneficial effect of moderate alcohol consumption on vascular disease: myth or reality?J R Soc Promot Health 2000; 120(1):11-5JR
Moderate ethanol consumption (1-3 drinks/day on 5-6 days/week) has a favourable effect on vascular disease-related mortality and morbidity [especially ischaemic heart disease (IHD)]. This cardioprotective effect may be due to significant effects on cardiovascular risk factors such as high density cholesterol (HDL) concentration (HDL protects from IHD) and an inhibition of platelet aggregation (increased platelet aggregability predicts coronary events). In contrast, alcoholics and problem drinkers have an excess of IHD-related, and possibly stroke-related, mortality. Excessive alcohol intake may raise the blood pressure. Prolonged alcohol abuse can also result in alcoholic heart muscle disease. Alcohol is the major cause of non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy in Western society. Although there is a widespread belief that red wine protects more than other alcoholic beverages, several studies do not support this interpretation.