Drinking in moderation has been linked with a lower risk of having a heart attack. Now, two new studies show that a drink a day may promote survival in patients after a heart attack, as well as help the elderly prevent heart failure.
Both studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They found that any type of alcohol had potentially healthy effects when consumed in moderation. Alcohol has been shown to raise HDL ("good") cholesterol and prevent blood clots from forming.
In one study of more than 1,900 adults who had been hospitalized for heart attack found that patients who consumed seven drinks a week in the year before their heart attack had a 32% lower risk of dying compared with teetotallers. And those who consumed less than seven drinks a week lowered their risk of dying by 21% over nearly 4 years, compared with patients who abstained from drinking.
Another study of 2200 adults nearly 74 years of age found that elderly people who drank at least 1.5 drinks per day had a risk of heart failure 47% lower than abstainers, regardless of age, race, blood pressure, history of diabetes, smoking and other factors.
Despite the findings, heavy drinking can lead to adverse health effects and individuals should discuss the risks and benefits of alcohol with their doctors.
The authors state that these findings do not justify advising lifelong non-drinkers to start drinking for health.
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