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Alcohol Consumption After Heart Surgery Questioned

A new study shows moderate consumption of alcohol may cut the rate of reblockage following surgery to open clogged arteries.// Researchers evaluated 225 men after they had undergone a percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), a procedure to open blocked arteries with a stent. Less traumatic than bypass surgery, a stent opens the artery but may cause inflammation resulting in renarrowing of the artery, usually within four months.

Participants in the study were surveyed to determine their weekly alcohol consumption in the four months following surgery. Researchers say men consuming less than 50 grams of alcohol a week had a greater incidence of blocked arteries than those consuming more than 50 grams -- in some cases, between 350 grams to 700 grams of alcohol a week.

According to the study, men consuming more than 50 grams of alcohol also had better heart function and a more favorable cholesterol level than those who drank little or no alcohol. They were also half as likely to require a repeat angioplasty.Results also showed patients with diabetes, regardless of alcohol intake, were more likely to require a repeat angioplasty than those who drank less than 50 grams of alcohol a week.

Thus researchers say their findings do not mean non-drinkers should start to drink, but that moderate consumers of alcohol with an increased cardiovascular risk should not be advised to stop.

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