Moderate Amount of Alcohol doesn’t Pose any Harmful Effect on Heart Failure Patients

According to a new study, elderly with newly diagnosed heart failure can continue to drink moderate amounts of alcohol as it will no more affect their health. A study carried out by the researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis showed that moderate drinkers showed a better survival rate than the ones who completely tried to avoid from alcohol.

On average the survival rate rose up to one year. Though the change is little still it is considered as significant on the basis of health. However, the researchers emphasized that there is absolutely no need for the non-drinkers to start imbibing after the diagnosis of heart failure.

The study got published in the journal JAMA Network Open on 28 December. Though the previous studies state otherwise, that is alcohol decreases the amount of good cholesterol and makes the arteries look narrower and ultimately promotes blood clotting. Alcohol prevents blood clotting.

David L. Brown, senior author, and cardiologist, a professor of medicine said: “My patients who are newly diagnosed with heart failure often ask me if they should stop having that glass of wine every night. And until now, I didn’t have a good answer for them. We have long known that the toxic effects of excessive drinking can contribute to heart failure.

In contrast, we have data showing that healthy people who drink moderately seem to have some protection from heart failure over the long term, compared with people who don’t drink at all. But there was very little if any, data to help us advise people who drink moderately and have just been diagnosed with heart failure.”

As per the new study, patients with a new diagnosis of heart failure can safely drink alcohol in moderate amounts that is 2 for men and one for women. The researchers were able to find a slight link between the moderate amount of imbibing and increased survival rate. However, since the study has not made a connection of cause and effect, the researchers are not completely sure about this new finding.

There are many possibilities which can produce this beneficial result. It may be due to only one factor or a combination of many factors that causes the survival rate of the elderly to be increased. Also, the study does not support the idea that non-drinkers start imbibing after diagnosing with heart failure.

The researchers carefully studied the past data of the previous studies carried out from 1989 to 1993. The studies in total had 5,888 adults. Among 5,888 adults there were 393 people who diagnosed their heart failure at the age of nine.

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is not able to pump sufficient blood around the body and is triggered by conditions like diabetes, heart attack, and kidney disease. Most of the heart failure patients of an average age of 79 are women and 86% of them are usually white.

For carrying out the research, the patients were divided into four groups: the one who never drank, the one who drank occasionally about 7 or fewer times in a week, people who drank more than 8 times and people who used to drink previously and now stopped. The researchers classified one glass of alcohol as 12-ounce beer, 6-ounce glass of wine, and 1.5-ounce shot of liquor.

The researchers considered all the possible variable factors during their investigation including education level, age, blood pressure, sex, smoking status, race and etc. after considering and controlling these factors researchers found that there is a close link between consumption of seven or fewer drinks and increased one year survival as compared to the ones who completely avoid it.

The survival rate on average is about 383 days and can vary from 17 to 748 days. According to the research maximum benefits can be attained if the person drinks 10 glasses per week. However, no appropriate conclusion could be drawn as there were very few people who fell under this category.

“People who develop heart failure at an older age and never drank shouldn’t start drinking,” Brown said. “But our study suggests people who have had a daily drink or two before their diagnosis of heart failure can continue to do so without concern that it’s causing harm. Even so, that decision should always be made in consultation with their doctors.”

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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