‘If you don’t drink, don’t start,’ heart researchers say
Drinking alcohol – even at levels considered safe – could lead to heart failure, a team of Irish researchers is warning.
Their study involved more than 700 people 40 or older. One group was at risk of developing heart failure because of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other risk factors. The other, called the pre-heart failure group, had risk factors and heart abnormalities but no symptoms.
The researchers defined 10 grams of alcohol as one unit. They then put study participants’ weekly intake into three categories: none, low (fewer than seven units), moderate (seven to 14) and high (more than 14).
Results showed that over a median of 5.4 years, the participants in the pre-heart failure group with moderate to high alcohol intake had a 4.5 times greater risk of worsening heart health compared with those who didn’t drink alcohol.
“To minimize the risk of alcohol causing harm to the heart, if you don’t drink, don’t start,” Bethany Wong, a researcher from St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, said in a press release. “If you do drink, limit your weekly consumption to less than one bottle of wine or less than three-and-a-half 500-millileter cans of 4.5% (alcohol by volume) beer.”
The study results were presented in May at Heart Failure 2022, a scientific event hosted by the European Society of Cardiology.