Consuming moderate amounts of alcohol can lower the risk of heart failure in the middle aged, a study published in the European Heart Journal has found.
The study, Alcohol consumption and risk of heart failure: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, examined the alcohol consumption of 14,629 participants over 24 years. Of this group, 42 per cent abstained from alcohol, 19 per cent were former drinkers, and 25 per cent reported drinking up to seven alcoholic beverages a week. A further eight per cent consumed between seven and 14 alcoholic drinks a week, while three per cent said they had drunk between 14 and 21 drinks containing alcohol. Of this group, 1271 men and 1237 women suffered heart failure during the study period.
Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'Some studies have shown drinking small amounts of alcohol may have some benefits for your heart, but it's not just your heart health you have to think about.'
The study found that the men who consumed up to seven alcoholic drinks a week had a lower risk of heart failure compared to abstainers and those who drank excessively. The researchers noted that moderate alcohol consumption had a similar but less significant effect on the risk of heart failure in women. There was little difference in the risk of heart failure between abstainers and heavy drinkers.
Mr Allen added: 'There are much safer and healthier ways to protect your heart like exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, so there is no reason to start drinking if you don't already. Anyone who is concerned about their alcohol intake should contact their GP.'