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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Drinking twice as much reduces heart attack by factor of three?

After suffering a mild heart attack (an oxymoron!) a few years ago, I asked the cardiologist if it's true that a glass of red wine a day keeps the myocardial infarctions away. He said "yes." What about white, I wondered. "That works too," said he. Encouraged by this, I wondered if beer might work too. The answer was affirmative. Next I questioned whether two drinks might be even better. After that got endorsed by the cardiologist, I quit while I was ahead. I've enjoyed one glass of beer or wine, and occasionally a second helping, every day since. Life is good!

Today I was heartened to see in the HeartCenterOnline Newsletter that a study by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston indicates that two drinks daily help men avoid heart attack. At first glance at the following detail I thought I ought to have more than two drinks:
"There were 9 heart attacks in a group of 714 men who drank more than two drinks daily, and 34 in a group of 2,252 who drank less than two a day." Unfortunately, if you do the math and calculate the percents by comparison, this statistic becomes a lot less compelling for those who like their liquor. I am holding the line at one drink every day for sure and two at the most, but only when I want to really live it up.


  • At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Research from the 90’s tended to focus on alcohol ingestion rather that source of alcohol ingestion. This may have changed somewhat post 2000 as new information about phytochemicals present in red wines (which are reminiscent of red pigment in tomatoes) has grabbed some scientific and popular attention.

    The problem with alcohol related research for heart disease prevention is two fold: 1) how does one discipline one’s self to ONLY and ALWAYS drink one drink per day and 2) the risk of death from alcohol related problems become significant after two drinks per day – alcoholism, liver disease, and probably car accidents.

    As a laboratorian, for example, I could tell from blood analysis the next day if alcohol was consumed from liver function tests even if alcohol was consumed at the “two drink” level. Of course, folks in whom I detected a problem could have been “underestimating” their consumption.

    So even if more heart attacks could be avoided through increase alcohol consumption, I would expect the offset in deaths from alcoholism would be a strong reason not to tout greater alcohol consumption by any medical professional.

  • At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My 89 year old Aunt had a mild heart attack. We all enjoyed having cocktails together and she enjoyed having a couple when she was in the mood. Is it dangerous for her to have one or two with us when we visit? We live in NY and she in FL


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