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Moderate drinking 'reduces heart risk'

24 March 2017 07:33

Can drinking reduce your risk of a heart attack?

Can drinking reduce your risk of a heart attack?

People who drink moderately are less likely to suffer a heart attack, according to a new study.

Researchers found those who drink a maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week benefit from a protective effect on their hearts compared with non-drinkers.

However, those who drink heavily face an increased risk of heart attack.

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Study shows fine line

Some 1.93 million Brits took part in the study, published in the British Medical Journal and authored by University of Cambridge and University College London.

It found moderate drinkers were less likely than non-drinkers to visit their doctors over angina, heart attacks, or heart failure.

This was also the case for ischaemic stroke and circulation problems related to a build-up of fat in the arteries.

However this trend isn't shared among heavy drinkers - those who drink over 14 units per week. These people are at an increased risk of heart failure, a cardiac arrest, ischaemic stroke and circulation problems caused by fatty arteries.

What the experts say

The authors said: "While we found that moderate drinkers were less likely to initially present with several cardiovascular diseases than non-drinkers, it could be argued that it would be unwise to encourage individuals to take up drinking as a means of lowering their risk.

"This is because there are arguably safer and more effective ways of reducing cardiovascular risk, such as increasing physical activity and smoking cessation, which do not incur increased risks of alcohol-related harm such as alcohol dependence, liver disease and cancer."

This sentiment was echoed by the British Heart Foundation.

Tracy Parker, heart health dietician at the charity, said: "It's important to remember that the risks of drinking alcohol far outweigh any possible benefits.

"And these findings are certainly no reason to start drinking alcohol if you don't already."