Vidyya Medical News Service
Volume 6 Issue 83 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 23-Mar-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 24-Mar-2004
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Moderate amounts of alcohol may help prevent death from CVD in men with hypertension

Light to moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in men with high blood pressure, according to an article in the 22 March issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine.

According to background information in the article, previous studies have shown an inverse association between moderate alcohol consumption and CVD mortality, but it is unknown whether this association is true in men with hypertension (high blood pressure).

Maciej K. Malinski, M.D., from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, and colleagues studied data from 14,125 male physicians who were enrolled in the Physicians' Health Study by February 1984 who reported past or current treatment for hypertension but had no history of myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, cancer or liver disease. The researchers investigated the relationship between alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality (death due to any cause), and deaths due to CVD among the participants. Men in the study answered questions about alcohol consumption, CVD risk factors, cholesterol and lifestyle.

During an average follow up of 5.4 years, there were 1,018 deaths, including 579 from CVD (56.9 percent). At the beginning of the study, 17 percent of the men reported drinking alcohol rarely or never, 11 percent reported monthly alcohol use (one to three drinks per month), 40 percent reported weekly alcohol use (one to six drinks per week), and the remaining 32 percent reported daily alcohol use (one or more drinks per day).

The researchers found that "Compared with nondrinkers, weekly and daily drinkers had a significantly lower risk of death of 28 percent and 27 percent. Similarly there was a reduced risk of CVD mortality [death] with increased levels of alcohol intake," write the authors. They also found that compared to participants who rarely or never drank, weekly drinkers had a 39 percent lower risk of dying from CVD, and daily drinkers had a 44 percent lower risk of CVD mortality.

"In summary, this study suggests that light to moderate alcohol consumption among men with hypertension is associated with a reduction in risk of total and cardiovascular mortality," the researchers write. "In light of major clinical and public health problems associated with heavy drinking, recommendations regarding alcohol use must be made on an individual basis after carefully assessing cardiovascular risk profile and the risks and benefits of any changes in drinking behavior. However, patients with hypertension who are able to maintain light to moderate alcohol intake have no compelling reason to change their lifestyle and eliminate a possibly beneficial habit."

Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:623-628.

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