MANY of us enjoy a relaxing pint or glass of wine – but just how damaging is moderate drinking on our heart health?
Well, it turns out that it’s VERY damaging, according to shocking heart scans.
Excessive boozing is known to be a risk factor of atrial fibrillation (an irregular, very fast heartbeat), but a new study has found that even moderate alcohol consumption can also result in damage.
Australian scientists have found that drinking as little as 14 glasses a week can result in scarring and disruption in electrical signalling, compared to teetotallers and light drinkers.
That’s led experts to conclude that moderate drinking is an important risk factor for AF.
They analysed seven studies involving nearly 860,000 patients. Nearly 12.500 of those demonstrated an 8 per cent increase in AF with each additional daily drink.
They then performed invasive tests on the atria of 75 people with AF, who were split into three groups: life-long teetotallers, mild drinkers and moderate drinkers.
Patents reported their own average booze consumption per week over 12 months.
Those who drank two-to-seven drinks per week were considered to be mild drinkers, while people who drank between eight and 21 drinks per week (an average of 14 drinks) were defined as moderate.
Scientists found that those who drank moderately had more electrical evidence of scarring and impairments in electrical signalling than non-drinkers and light drinkers.
“This study underscores the importance of excessive alcohol consumption as an important risk factor in AF,” said lead investigator Professor Peter Kistler, from the Heart Centre, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
“Regular moderate alcohol consumption, but not mild consumption, is an important modifiable risk factor for AF associated with lower atrial voltage and conduction slowing.
“These electrical and structural changes may explain the propensity to AF in regular drinkers.
“It is an important reminder for clinicians who are caring for patients with AF to ask about alcohol consumption and provide appropriate counselling in those who over-indulge.”
What about red wine supposedly being good for heart health?
Well, that’s something which is increasingly being doubted by experts.
The British Heart Foundation says that you can get the antioxidant properties of red wine from other sources like grapes, blueberries and strawberries but without the negative effects of alcohol.
“BHF-funded research published in 2018 looking at the effect of alcohol consumption on heart and circulatory diseases concluded that the risks outweigh the benefits, and drinking more than the recommended limits will have a negative effect on your health,” the charity says.
“It’s therefore not a good idea to drink wine to protect your heart. If you do drink alcohol, don’t exceed 14 units a week.
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“A unit is 10ml of pure alcohol, so 14 units is about six medium (175ml) glasses of wine (13 per cent ABV) or six pints of lager or cider (four per cent ABV) – this is a maximum, not a target.
“If you do drink 14 units a week, spread them out and have some alcohol-free days, as binge drinking can increase your heart disease and stroke risk.”
So, everything in moderation.
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