The World Health Organization estimates that 17.1 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2004, which represents 29% of all deaths. Of these deaths, 7.2 million resulted from coronary heart disease (CHD) and 5.7 million from stroke. In 2004, cardiovascular disease accounted for nearly 10% of the burden of disease attributable to alcohol in men worldwide.
However, many observational studies have reported inverse associations between some behaviours related to alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease.
Moderate alcohol consumption is good for the heart but heavy drinking has the opposite effect. That’s a simplified summary of a fascinating study on the effect of alcohol intake patterns on ischaemic heart disease in two countries with contrasting lifestyles and drinking habits, Northern Ireland and France.
Regular and moderate alcohol intake throughout the week is the typical pattern for the Frenchmen. Alcohol consumption for the Belfast was confined largely to one day of the week—Saturday.
The research led by Jean-Bernard Ruidavets found that men who "binge" drink (drink =50 g of alcohol once a week) had nearly twice the risk of myocardial infarction or death from coronary disease compared with those regularly drinking the same amount of alcohol over the course of several days. Similarly abstainers were at higher risk.
9,778 men aged 50-59, free of ischaemic heart disease at baseline, were recruited between 1991 and 1994 and were followed-up over a 10 year period.
This study shows that regular moderate drinking (especially of wine) is associated with lower risk of MI, but episodic or binge drinking increases the risk. Lifetime abstinence has a similar adverse relation to CHD as does episodic or binge drinking
The authors do concede that other factors like lifestyle and diet could account for the Frenchmen’s low risk of heart disease.
Jean-Bernard Ruidavets, Pierre Ducimetière, Alun Evans, Michèle Montaye, Bernadette Haas, Annie Bingham, John Yarnell, Philippe Amouyel, Dominique Arveiler, Frank Kee, Vanina Bongard, Jean Ferrières. Patterns of alcohol consumption and ischaemic heart disease in culturally divergent countries: the Prospective Epidemiological Study of Myocardial Infarction (PRIME). British Medical Journal 2010; 341:c6077 CLICK HERE for the complete article.
CLICK HERE for the fatal consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol!