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Moderate Alcohol Use Helps Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death: Study
Date:10/2/2010

hythmic effects. That means alcohol can cause heart palpitations. The effect is so well-known that it's been dubbed "holiday heart syndrome."

Chiuve's study included 85,067 women from the Nurses' Health Study. None of the women had chronic disease when the study began, and all of the women answered questions about their alcohol intake every four years.

One drink is about 15 grams of alcohol, according to Chiuve. And, one drink translates to 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

The researchers found that women who drank between 5 grams and 14.9 grams of alcohol daily had the lowest risk of sudden cardiac death. Those who were former drinkers had a 21 percent reduced risk of sudden cardiac death compared to teetotalers, according to the study.

Women who drank 0.1 to 4.9 grams of alcohol daily had a 23 percent reduced risk of sudden cardiac death compared to lifetime abstainers, while those who has 5 to 14.9 grams of alcohol each day reduced their sudden cardiac death risk by 36 percent. Women who had 15 to 29.9 grams of daily alcohol had a 32 percent reduced risk of sudden cardiac death.

But, once the amount of daily alcohol got above 30 grams -- two drinks a day -- the risk of sudden cardiac death increased by 15 percent over the teetotaling group.

Dr. Michael Davidson, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Chicago Medical Center, wasn't surprised by the findings. "There's always been this issue of a U-shaped curve for alcohol's effects. It's beneficial to a point, but once you go over a certain amount of alcohol, the risk of death goes up," he said.

He noted that when he has patients with heart palpitations, he suggests that they cut back on their alcohol intake to see if that helps.

But, he added, "everybody's different, and everyone's tolerance of alcohol is different, so if you feel fluttering in your heart and you've only had one drink, it may be the alcohol and that may
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