People who drink wine, liquor or beer in moderation are less prone to heart failure and heart attacks than those who rarely or never drink, suggested two new studies. The researchers found that three to five drinks a week can be good for your heart.
"It's primarily the alcohol that leads to more good cholesterol, among other things. But alcohol can also cause higher blood pressure. So it's best to drink moderate amounts relatively often," said one of the researchers Imre Janszky, professor of social medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
While one of the studies published in the International Journal of Cardiology is about heart failure, the other published in the Journal of Internal Medicine evaluated the relationship between alcohol and acute myocardial infarction (AMI), the medical term for heart attack.
The studies showed that those who drank three to five drinks per week were 33% less prone to heart failure than those who abstained or drank infrequently.
In the case of heart attacks too, moderate alcohol consumption was found to be beneficial.
The study, which looked at the relationship between heart failure and alcohol, followed 60,665 participants who enrolled for a larger study between 1995-1997 and who had no incidence of heart failure at that time.
Of those, 1588 of them developed heart failure during the period of the study, which ended in 2008.
The risk was highest for those who rarely or never drank alcohol, and for those who had an alcohol problem.
In the heart attack study, 58,827 participants were categorized by how much and how often they drank.
The researchers found that 2,966 of the participants experienced an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) between 1995 and the end of 2008.
The analyses showed that each additional one-drink increment decreased the risk of AMI by 28%.
"I'm not encouraging people to drink alcohol all the time. We've only been studying the heart, and it's important to emphasize that a little alcohol every day can be healthy for the heart. But that doesn't mean it's necessary to drink alcohol every day to have a healthy heart," Janszky said.