Bhnh­fiws RI DOFRKRO FRNSUPSWIRN skruod EH Mud­jhd Rn in­diyidudo Ed­sis

The Globe - - OPINION -

GHWWinJ ROd can be a dilemma. We learn that a daily glass of red wine or even a bot­tle of beer or a shot of liquor might be good for the heart. How­ever, be­fore you rush off to the liquor store it might be wise to know if that al­co­holic bev­er­age might make you fall down the steps, break a hip and pos­si­bly die from com­pli­ca­tions. Who should not have the al­co­holic drink? A healthy heart does you no good when you’re car­ried into the ceme­tery.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion, more WKDn RnH-WKiUd RI DduOWs DJHd 65 and older fall a year. And, among older peo­ple who fall, the lead­ing causes of death that are re­lated to in­jury re­sult from falls. Of those peo­ple who fall and break a hip, a fourth of them will die within a year of the fall.

Older peo­ple of­ten have balDnFH SUREOHPs, diI­fiFuOWy sOHHSing, emo­tions of de­pres­sion and an in­creased fre­quency of fall­ing. As they age, they de­velop poor eye­siJKW, sORwHU UHflHxHs Dnd ERnHs that break more eas­ily than the bones of younger peo­ple. The unan­swered ques­tion is whether adding a drink of al­co­hol a day might worsen th­ese prob­lems. In a study RI ROdHU APHUiFDns in 2008, 35.8 mil­lion adults re­ported an episode of dizzi­ness in the past year. No one wants to have a strong heart and poor bal­ance. For­tu­nately, fewer than 10 per­cent of falls re­sult in a bro­ken bone.

There is some guid­ance for those se­niors hop­ing to drink them­selves to sleep be­cause car­di­ol­o­gists re­spect our liv­ers. The National In­sti­tute on Al­co­hol Abuse and Al­co­holism — a branch of the National In­sti­tute of Health — rec­om­mends that the ad­di­tion of al­co­hol on a reg­u­lar ba­sis should only be done by peo­ple who are in good health. Of those peo­ple wKR DUH RYHU DJH 65, WKHy sKRuOd have no more than seven drinks a week and no more than three drinks in any one day.

When the sub­ject of al­co­hol and se­niors is brought up, most peo- ple like to think of France, where drink­ing al­co­hol is part of life. The per capita al­co­hol con­sump­tion of )UDnFH dRHs OHDd WKH wRUOd, GHU­many is sec­ond, Aus­tralia is third and the United King­dom is fourth. Peo­ple in all of th­ese coun­tries drink more al­co­hol than peo­ple in the United States. How­ever, even in this coun­try, al­co­hol abuse kills ap­prox­iPDWHOy 75,000 SHRSOH D yHDU.

Ac­cord­ing to the CDC, es­ti­mates re­vealed more than 34,000 peo­ple died in the United States in 2001 from cir­rho­sis of the liver and other dis­eases re­lated to drink­ing. An­other 40,000 died from car crashes re­lated to al­co­hol. It must be men­tioned that the largest age group that drinks al­co­hol was 12WK-JUDdHUs. AFWuDOOy, WKH 65 Dnd older group con­sumed less al­co­hol than younger peo­ple. White peo­ple con­sume more al­co­hol than blacks and Asians.

By dHfiniWiRn D IUHTuHnW KHDYy drinker is a per­son who drinks at OHDsW RnFH D wHHN Dnd dUinNs fiYH or more drinks at one sit­ting.

Even one drink might dam­age a fe­tus of a preg­nant woman.

The great­est quan­ti­ties of al­co­hol con­sumed by Amer­i­cans dur­inJ WKH SDsW 50 yHDUs wDs EHHU.

If a per­son has a prob­lem with bal­ance, he or she should ask the physi­cian whether a daily drink is rec­om­mended. Drink­ing al­co­holic bev­er­ages might ag­gra­vate the prob­lem.

Dr. Mil­ton Fried­man can be reached at tcgn@mont­­ton Fried­man

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