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A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Date:11/15/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Moderate drinking may be good for your health -- better, in fact, than not drinking at all, according to a trio of studies presented Sunday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Chicago.

Not only did male coronary bypass patients fare better with a little alcohol, but women's health was also boosted by a cocktail now and then.

Still, while the studies are "reassuring," they should not be seen as "a cause for action or change of patterns," said Dr. Sharonne Hayes, a cardiologist and director of the Women's Heart Clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "We do have to be cautious. This is not [shown to be] a cause-and-effect relationship."

Men who had undergone coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) to circumvent clogged arteries who drank two to three alcoholic beverages a day had a 25 percent lower risk of having to undergo another procedure or suffering a heart attack, stroke or even dying, compared to teetotalers, researchers found.

Too much alcohol appear to have a negative effect, however: Men with left ventricular dysfunction (problems with the heart's pumping mechanism) who drank more than six drinks a day had double the risk of dying from a heart problem compared with people who didn't drink at all.

"A light amount of alcohol intake, about two drinks a day, should not be discouraged in [male] patients undergoing CABG, but the benefit is less evident in patients with severe pump dysfunction," said study lead author Dr. Umberto Benedetto, of the University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy, who spoke Sunday during a news conference at the meeting.

Light-to-moderate drinking for women is defined as about one glass a day and, for men, two glasses daily.

The so-called BACCO (Bypass surgery, Alcohol Consumption on Clinical Outcomes) study, named for Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, followed 2,000 bypass
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