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Beer may help fight heart failure

22 January 2015 09:45

Half a pint of beer a day can protect people against heart failure, a new study suggests

Half a pint of beer a day can protect people against heart failure, a new study suggests

Having one alcoholic drink per day can cut your risk of heart failure by up to 20%, new research suggests.

Experts from Harvard Medical School say women who drink the equivalent of 14 grams of alcohol a day are 16% less likely to suffer heart failure, while men can cut their risk by a fifth.

This means that drinking half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine regularly is good for your heart health.

What is heart failure?

It is thought that around 900,000 Britons suffer from heart failure, which means their hearts are not strong enough to pump blood through the body.

Most people suffer heart failure following a heart attack, but some also develop the condition as a result of a defective heart valve, an irregular heartbeat or other causes.

Those who suffer from the condition should consider taking out specialist travel insurance before embarking on a holiday abroad.

How the research works

A total of 14,629 Americans between the ages of 45 and 64 took part in the long-term research.

They were divided into six groups - teetotallers, former drinkers, those who drank up to seven alcoholic drinks a week, and those who had between seven and 14, 14 to 21, and more than 21 drinks a week.

It was found that 1,271 male and 1,237 female participants developed heart failure over the course of 25 years.

Former drinkers had the highest risk of developing the condition while those who had up to seven drinks had the lowest overall risk.

The researchers said men in the "up to seven drinks" group were 20% less likely to suffer heart failure when accounting for factors such as age, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, physical activity and smoking, while women were 16% less likely.

Those who had 14 or more drinks had roughly the same chance of suffering the condition than people who never drank - but among those who had more than 21 drinks a week, men were 47% more likely to die from any cause than others and women had a 89% higher risk.

What the academics say

The findings have been published in the European Heart Journal.

Professor Scott Solomon, lead researcher of the study, said the findings suggest that moderate alcohol consumption is not linked to a higher risk of heart failure and could even be beneficial for people's heart health.

He added that "no level of alcohol intake" was found to increase the risk of heart failure, but those had drank heavily were more likely to die than those who never drank, or drank only in moderation.