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Wine and heart health

Definition

Studies have shown that adults who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol may be less likely to develop heart disease than those who do not drink at all or are heavy drinkers. However, people who do not drink alcohol should not start just because they want to avoid developing heart disease.

Alternative Names

Health and wine; Wine and heart disease; Preventing heart disease - wine; Preventing heart disease - alcohol

Information

There is a fine line between healthy drinking and risky drinking. DO NOT begin drinking or drink more often just to lower your risk of heart disease. Heavier drinking can harm the heart and liver. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in people who abuse alcohol.

Health care providers recommend that if you drink alcohol, drink only light to moderate amounts:

  • For men, limit alcohol to 1 to 2 drinks a day.
  • For women, limit alcohol to 1 drink a day.

One drink is defined as:

  • 4 ounces (118 milliliters, mL) of wine
  • 12 ounces (355 mL) of beer
  • 1 1/2 ounces (44 mL) of 80-proof spirits
  • 1 ounce (30 mL) of 100-proof spirits

Though research has found that alcohol may help prevent heart disease, much more effective ways to prevent heart disease include:

Anyone who has heart disease or heart failure should talk to their provider before drinking alcohol. Alcohol can make heart failure and other heart problems worse.

References

Brien SE, Ronksley PE, Turner BJ, Mukamal KJ, Ghali WA. Effect of alcohol consumption on biological markers associated with risk of coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies. BMJ. 2011;342:d636. PMID: 21343206 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21343206.

Mozaffarian D. Nutrition and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In: Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 46.

United States Department of Agriculture. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2010. National Academy Press. Washington, DC, 2010.

Review Date:4/11/2015
Reviewed By:Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Internal review and update on 07/24/2016 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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