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Regular drinking significantly increases heart disease risk

Monday 16th April 2018
Regularly consuming more than the recommended alcohol units can dramatically increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. Image: william87 via iStock
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Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol on a regular basis can significantly increase a person's risk of heart disease or a stroke, new research reveals.

Published in the Lancet, the study looked at the effects of regular excessive alcohol consumption on people's health, finding that for every extra 12.5 units drank in a week, an individual's risk of fatal hypertensive disease increases by 24 per cent.

At the same time, their risk of suffering a stroke grows by 14 per cent, while their likelihood of a fatal aortic aneurysm rises by 15 per cent. Meanwhile, the risk of heart failure increases by nine per cent.

The research found that diagnoses of non-fatal heart disease tend to be lower among regular alcohol drinkers, but the other health effects of excessive drinking significantly outweigh any benefit to be seen here.

Commenting on the findings of the research, Tim Chico, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, who was not involved directly in the study, said: "This study makes clear that, on balance, there are no health benefits from drinking alcohol, which is usually the case when things sound too good to be true.

"Although non-fatal heart attacks are less likely in people who drink, this benefit is swamped by the increased risk of other forms of heart disease, including fatal heart attacks and stroke."

These findings show that past claims of drinking red wine being good for heart health should not necessarily be believed, as every additional 12.5 units of alcohol consumed can have an adverse effect on the health, regardless of what it is.

Overall, following a study of 600,000 individuals, it was found that consuming ten to 15 alcoholic drinks in a week can reduce a person's life expectancy by five years.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, also commented on the study, reminding people that the government's alcohol guidelines should be viewed as an absolute upper limit rather than a target. People should instead "try to drink well below this threshold", she added.

Written by Mathew Horton

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