A shot for the heart

Heart fail­ure pa­tients who drink may ac­tu­ally live longer

Weekend Witness - - News -

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.

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