Download &
print (pdf)

Cardiovascular Disease

Effects of Red Wine and Vodka on Collateral-Dependent Perfusion and Cardiovascular Function in Hypercholesterolemic Swine ,I>Circulation 126 September 2012 This study found that hypercholesterolemic pigs fed red wine (Pinot Noir) or vodka with their food for 7 weeks had significantly increased blood flow to the heart, with red wine having the most benefit. HDL (good cholesterol) was significantly increased in the two alcohol-treated groups, while total cholesterol levels were unaffected. The author concludes that moderate consumption of red wine and vodka may reduce cardiovascular risk by improving collateral-dependent perfusion through different mechanisms and that red wine may offer increased cardioprotection related to its antioxidant properties.

Wine Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Events after Myocardial Infarction: Results from the GISSI-Prevenzione Trial International J of Cardiology July 2011 (online) Among patients with established heart disease, light to moderate wine consumption was associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular events and total mortality as compared with non drinkers. The study did not prove that wine consumption decreases the risk, but suggests that moderate wine intake is not harmful, and may be beneficial, in postmyocardial infarction patients who already consume alcohol.

Long Term Alcohol Consumption in Relation to All-cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Among Survivors of Myocardial Infarction: the Health Professionals Follow-up Study European Heart Journal 33 (13) 2012 This study was based on 50,000 men subjects. Pre-myocardial infarction and post-myocardial infarction intakes of light and moderate amounts of alcohol were both associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality among men studied compared to abstainers. Long-term moderate alcohol consumption is inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality among men who survived a first myocardial infarction. This U-shaped association may be strongest among individuals with less impaired cardiac function after myocardial infarction. Although the study only observe men, associations tend to be similar between chronic diseases and lower quantities of alcohol in women and an association is likely to be observed for up to a drink a day for women.

Lowering the Alcohol Content of Red Wine Does Not Alter Its Cardiovascular Properties South African Med Journal 102 (6) 2012 Moderate, regular consumption of red wine for ten days in rats is protective against heart attack. In this study, heart attack was artificially induced by 30 minutes of ischemia followed by 30 minutes of re-perfusion. Treatment with wine improved left ventricular developed pressure function after reperfusion compared to controls. The authors concluded that lowering the alcohol content from 12% to 6% in wine did not alter its cardioprotective and antioxidant properties. Alcohol extracts alone do not provide cardioprotective benefits, rather the polyphenols in wine probably provide this benefit. The authors reported that moderate and regular consumption of lower alcohol wines may confer beneficial effects with possibly less risks associated with traditional wines of higher alcohol content.

Dealcoholized Red Wine Decreases Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure and Increases Plasma Nitric Oxide Circulation Research September 2012 This study evaluated the effects of red wine fractions (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) on blood pressure and nitric oxide in humans at high cardiovascular risk. 67 men were randomized into three treatment periods in a cross-over clinical trial with a common background diet plus red wine, an equivalent amount of dealcoholized red wine or gin, lasting 4 weeks with each intervention. It was found that dealcoholized red wine decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure modestly possibly through a nitric oxide-mediated mechanism. Modest decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure are associated with a 14% and 20% reduction in coronary heart disease and stroke respectively. Therefore, the daily consumption of dealcoholized red wine could be useful for the prevention of low to moderate hypertension. The specific substances responsible for the observe effects were not identified.

Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Incident Atrial Fibrillation Among People with Cardiovascular Disease CMAJ November 6, 2012 An analysis of the association of alcohol consumption with atrial fibrillation among subjects with various forms of cardiovascular disease. The researchers used a broad definition of ‘moderate’ drinkers that was not consistent with the current definition. The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research notes that heavy alcohol intake does increase the risk of atrial fibrillation but as far as moderate drinking, the conclusions of the authors that even ‘moderate’ drinking leads to an increased risk of atrial fibrillation after development of cardiovascular disease is unfounded. The association between atrial fibrillation and moderate alcohol consumption is unclear.

Heavy Alcohol Intake and Intracerebral Hemorrhage: Characteristics and Effect on Outcome Neurology 11 (79) September 2012 Heavy drinkers are at a much greater risk for bleeding (intracerebral) stroke. This small study of 540 French people with an average age of 71, found that people who drank three or more alcoholic drinks per day had strokes almost a decade and a half before those who didn’t drink quite as much. Heavy drinkers were also more likely to be smokers. The cause of the findings is not clear but it is known that heavy drinkers are more likely to have high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for stroke.

There were two noteworthy papers published in 2012 that discounted the health benefits of alcohol and wine consumption.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition of Australia (APC) released a position paper indicating that red wine’s health benefits are a myth. A press release from Kathy Bell, CEO of Heart Foundation, a member of the coalition, said, “After reviewing all the scientific evidence it appears any positive effects of alcohol in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease have been hugely overestimated. In particular, red wine has no special protective qualities when it relates to cardiovascular disease.” This caused quite an uproar since there was no new research in the coalition’s statement to back their assertions. There continues to be a push by a number of anti-alcohol groups in Australia to increase the tax on alcohol to reduce consumption.

The Cardioprotective Association of Average Alcohol Consumption and Ischemic Heart Disease: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Addiction 107 (7) July 2012 From Toronto’s Center for Addiction and Mental Health. The study looked at 44 international studies dating back 20 years that included 957,684 participants worldwide, and concluded that the cardioprotective association between alcohol use and ischemic heart disease could not be assured for all drinkers, even at low levels of intake. The authors believe that some research shows having one drink a day may be beneficial but anything more cancels out the positive effects. They also stated that if someone binge drinks once a month, any health benefits from light to moderate drinking disappear. Women were considered more at risk for heart disease and other ailments by drinking. This review only indicates the need for more evidence on the overall benefit-risk ratio of average alcohol consumption related to ischemic heart disease and other diseases.

Print entire newsletter