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Moderate drinking may not be harmful for heart failure patients

ANI | Updated: Dec 29, 2018 14:32 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Dec 29 (ANI): Moderate drinking may not be harmful for people over 65 who have newly been diagnosed with heart failure, according to a recent study.
The study, from Washington University School of Medicine, is published in JAMA Network Open.
The study showed a survival benefit for moderate drinkers compared with those who abstained from alcohol. On average, survival for moderate drinkers was just over a year longer than abstainers, a difference that was statistically significant. However, the findings do not suggest that non-drinkers should start imbibing after a heart failure diagnosis, the researchers emphasised.
"My patients who are newly diagnosed with heart failure often ask me if they should stop having that glass of wine every night," said senior author and cardiologist David L. Brown. "And until now, I didn't have a good answer for them. We have long known that the toxic effects of excessive drinking can contribute to heart failure. In contrast, we have data showing that healthy people who drink moderately seem to have some protection from heart failure over the long term, compared with people who don't drink at all. But there was very little, if any, data to help us advise people who drink moderately and have just been diagnosed with heart failure."
The new study suggests that such patients can safely continue to drink in moderate amounts -- one serving of alcohol per day for women and two for men. The researchers found a slight association between moderate drinking and longer survival times.
But since the study doesn't establish cause and effect, the researchers can't conclude that moderate drinking is actively protective. It is possible there is some other factor, or combination of factors, common among moderate drinkers, that leads to this benefit. As such, the evidence does not support the idea that non-drinkers with heart failure will improve if they begin moderate alcohol consumption.
The investigators found an association between consuming seven or fewer drinks per week and an extended survival of just over one year, compared with the long-term abstainers. The extended survival came to an average of 383 days and ranged from 17 to 748 days. The greatest benefit seems to be derived from drinking 10 drinks per week, but so few patients fell into that category that the data were insufficient to draw definite conclusions.
"People who develop heart failure at an older age and never drank shouldn't start drinking," Brown said. "But our study suggests people who have had a daily drink or two before their diagnosis of heart failure can continue to do so without concern that it's causing harm. Even so, that decision should always be made in consultation with their doctors." (ANI)

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