Link between alcohol and CVD is not universal

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Moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of several, but not all, cardiovascular diseases compared with abstinence or heavy drinking, finds a new study.

Experts say a more nuanced approach to the role of alcohol in cardiovascular health is needed, after a study of more than 1.93 million people found moderate consumption of alcohol is not universally associated with a lower risk of all cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

According to the study, published in The BMJ , non-drinking was associated with an increased risk of unstable angina, myocardial infarction, unheralded coronary death, heart failure, ischaemic stroke, peripheral arterial disease and abdominal aortic aneurysm, compared with moderate drinking. Heavy drinking was related to an increased risk of unheralded coronary death, heart failure, cardiac arrest, transient ischaemic attack, ischaemic stroke, intracerebral haemorrhage and peripheral arterial disease, but a lower risk of myocardial infarction or stable angina.

In a linked editorial , researchers at Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health say the study “does not offer a materially new view of the associations between alcohol consumed within recommended limits and risk of cardiovascular disease.

“This work, however, sets the stage for ever larger and more sophisticated studies that will attempt to harness the flood of big data into a stream of useful, reliable, and unbiased findings that can inform public health, clinical care, and the direction of future research.”

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