Coordinated Health

Conditions

Definition

Studies have shown that adults who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol may be less likely to develop heart disease than those who do not drink at all or are heavy drinkers. Persons who do not drink alcohol should not start just because they want to avoid developing heart disease.

Alternative Names

Health and wine: Wine and heart disease: Preventing heart disease – wine; Preventing  heart disease – alcohol

Information

There is a fine line between healthy drinking and risky drinking. It is not recommended that you begin drinking or drink more often just to lower your risk of heart disease.

Health care providers recommend that if you drink alcohol, drink only light to moderate amounts:

  • For men, limit alcohol to 1 to 2 drinks a day.
  • For women, limit alcohol to 1 drink a day.

One drink is defined as:

  • 4 ounces of wine
  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 1½ ounces of 80-proof spirits
  • 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits

Heavier drinking can harm the heart and liver. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in people who abuse alcohol.

Alcohol may help the heart when used in light to moderate amounts:

  • Increases the amount of HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • Decreases the chance of forming clots in blood vessels
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Increases antioxidant activity (red wine contains antioxidants called flavonoids)

Though research has found that alcohol may help prevent heart disease, much more effective ways to prevent heart disease include:

  • Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Exercising and following a low-fat, healthy diet
  • Not smoking
  • Keeping at an ideal weight

Anyone who has heart disease or heart failure should talk to their health care provider before drinking alcohol. Alcohol can make heart failure and other heart problems worse.

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