Who has lower cardiovascular risk, teetotalers or light drinkers?

Light alcohol consumption has been reported to be cardio-protective among apparently healthy individuals; however, it is unclear whether this association is also present in those with cardiovascular disease. New research, based on 15 studies, indicates that people who drink small amounts of alcohol have lower risks for both heart attack and stroke than teetotalers even when they have a history of heart issues.

The study, which included over 48,000 people found that people “who drank the equivalent of a single drink per day were less likely to suffer a repeat heart attack or stroke” and had “a lower risk of dying during the 20-year study period.”

The researchers say that “for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, current drinkers may not need to stop drinking but should be informed that lower levels of intake may be associated with reduced risks.”

They add, “However, non-drinking patients should not be encouraged to take up light drinking because of well-known adverse effects on other health outcomes, such as cancers.”

The findings were published online in the journal BMC Medicine.


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