Alcohol linked to heart attack: Excessive drinking increases risk of FATAL episode

Heart attack Alcohol abuse increases the risk of these heart conditions

"Alcohol abuse" is habitual excessive consumption of alcohol by a person. For the three cardiovascular conditions, the population-attributable risk of alcohol abuse was of similar magnitude to other well-recognized modifiable risk factors.

Specifically, they found that alcohol abuse was associated with a doubled risk of atrial fibrillation, a 1.4-fold higher risk of heart attack and a 2.3-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure."It didn't matter if you had a conventional risk factor for these diseases or not".

Senior author Dr Gregory Marcus, a UCSF health cardiologist and director of clinical research in the UCSF Division of Cardiology, said: "While generally believed that alcohol is protective against heart attacks, these findings demonstrate that excessive alcohol consumption may actually substantially increase risk".

Experts analysed data from nearly 15 million patients in California - 1.8 per cent (or 268,000) had been diagnosed with alcohol abuse.

There is also a 1.4-fold increased risk of heart attack and a 2.3-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure - a condition in which the heart does not pump blood well.

Reductions in alcohol abuse would significantly reduce heart disease.

"Treatment of alcohol abuse should be recognised as part of a preventive strategy in modifying the risk of cardiac disease".

The researchers adjusted statistics so they wouldn't be thrown off by various other risk factors. The team concluded that eliminating alcohol abuse would result in over 73,000 less atrial fibrillation cases, 34,000 less heart attacks and 91,000 less cases of congestive heart failure in the United States.

"The great majority of previous research relied exclusively on self-reports of alcohol abuse", Marcus said.

Since many people believe that "more of a good thing is always better", Marcus and his colleagues chose to investigate how excessive drinking might impact our risk of heart diseases.

"This data pretty clearly prove the opposite".

Alcohol abuse was defined by the researchers as an instance where a health care provider flagged a patient as having a problem with excessive alcohol use, either acutely or chronically.

It's not clear, though, how much the participants in this study drank.

The National Institutes of Health frequently highlights the ways in which too much drinking can lead to accidents, liver cirrhosis and cancer but yet, cardiovascular studies have suggested that moderate consumption of alcohol is good for the heart health.

"Cohort studies have minimal participation by true alcohol abusers, so the current study likely presents a more valid picture of heavy drinking outcomes", Criqui said.

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