A shot for the heart
Heart failure patients who drink may actually live longer
OLDER people with heart failure may be able to continue drinking moderately without harming their health, a new study suggests.
In fact, heart failure patients who consume up to seven drinks a week may actually live longer than those who completely avoid alcohol, researchers report in JAMA Network Open.
“If you’re 65 and above and have had a diagnosis of heart failure and previously consumed mild to moderate amounts of alcohol, you can probably continue to do so without any harm,” said senior study author Dr David L. Brown, a professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
“And it may actually be associated with some benefit in terms of longevity, although there is no way to show cause and effect from this study.y We found that those who continued to consume moderate amounts of f alcohol after diagnosis agnosis lived almost st a year longer ger than those se who never er consumed alcohol.”
But, Brown cautioned, “if f you have e never connsumed alcocohol, don’t start tart on the basis sis of this study.”
Brown got ot the idea for the study dy when a patient in the hospital with a new diagnosis of heart failure asked if he could continue to have a cocktail every night.
Heart failure is diagnosed when the organ can’t pump enough blood to the
“... those who continued to consume moderate amounts of alcohol after diagnosis [of heart failure] lived almost a year longer than those who never consumed alcohol.”
body. bod There are ar a host of reasons re why this t can happen, Brown said, including “having a heart h attack that th results in loss of heart hea muscle function, funct longstanding standin high blood pres pressure, obesity, diabetes and even drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.” To determine whether alcohol should be taken off the menu for heart failure patients, Brown and colleagues looked at health records for nearly 6 000 pa- tients aged 65 and older who signed on to the Cardiovascular Health Study between 1989 and 1993 at four sites in the U.S. In that group were 393 individuals with a new diagnosis of heart failure in the first nine years of follow-up.
Participants with heart failure were followed through June 2013 with regular phone calls. Researchers found that 129 of the heart failure patients continued to drink after they were diagnosed, with most of them consuming the equivalent of one to seven drinks per week.
One drink was equal to 12 ounces of beer, a six-ounce glass of wine or a 1,5-ounce shot of spirits. Just 17 heart failure patients consumed more than seven drinks a week. Of the 168 patients who abstained from alcohol, just over half were former drinkers and the rest had never been drinkers.
After accounting for factors that could influence heart failure progression, including age, sex, income, smoking history, diabetes and history of heart or kidney disease, researchers found that patients who continued to drink after their heart failure diagnosis lived longer.
On average, the non-drinkers lived 2 640 days after their diagnosis, compared with 3 046 days among those who consumed one to seven drinks a week and 2 806 days among those who consumed more than seven drinks a week.
Why would moderate drinking contribute to a longer life among heart failure patients? “That’s the $64 000 question. We don’t have the answer for that,” Brown said. “And we still don’t know if alcohol is the primary reason people lived longer. It may be that people who drink do it as part of a social network and that is the benefit rather than the alcohol.” — Reuters Health.