Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alcohol Consumption, Beer and Women Surviving a Heart Attack

I never miss an issue of the American Journal of Cardiology. This title caught my eye, "Alcohol consumption patterns, beverage type, and long-term mortality among women survivors of acute myocardial infarction." Researchers at Harvard Medical School sifted through the records of women who survived a heart attack and asked about their drinking habits. Luckily they found good news: moderate consumption of alcohol decrease mortality after a heart attack. It did not matter what you drank (wine, beer to spirits), you still lived longer. There was one odd finding, women that reported binge drinking tended to be far healthier compared to other pattern drinkers. This is in sharp contrast to men. One study found that binge drinking men had a two-fold risk of dying after a heart attack compared to moderate drinkers. The reasons for this are not clear. One theory is that women have lower amounts of alcohol dehydrogenase in their stomachs; this allows longer exposure to the effects of alcohol. Alcohol dehydrogenase is responsible for the breakdown of alcohol in the body.  Don't take this as validation that benders are OK, the amount of binge drinking women in the study were low. The low number of binge drinkers might not make the findings valid. As found in most other alcohol consumption studies, women that drank the most tended to be: younger, have a higher socioeconomic status, more physically active and more edumacated than abstainers.

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