Levels of alcohol consumption currently considered safe by some countries are linked with development of heart failure, according to research presented at Heart Failure 2022, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

“This study adds to the body of evidence that a more cautious approach to alcohol consumption is needed,” said study author Dr. Bethany Wong of St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

According to the World Health Organization, the European Union is the heaviest-drinking region in the world.

Although it is well known that long-term heavy drinking can cause a type of heart failure, new evidence now suggests that even lower amounts can be harmful to the heart.

The study involved 744 adults over the age of 40 who were at risk of developing heart failure. The average age was 66.5 years and 53% were women. Patients with symptoms (shortness of breath, fatigue, reduced mobility, swollen ankles) who already had heart failure were excluded.

Participants were categorized according to their weekly alcohol consumption. A total of 201 (27%) patients reported no alcohol consumption, while 356 (48%) consumed less alcohol and 187 (25%) consumed moderate or more alcohol.

Compared to the low intake group, moderate to high users were younger, more likely to be male and had a higher body mass index.

The study found that moderate or high intake increased the risk of heart failure by 4.5 times in the group at risk of heart failure.

Dr. Wong said, “Drinking more than 70 grams of alcohol per week increases the risk of heart failure. Our results show that countries should promote lower limits for safe alcohol intake for patients at risk of heart failure. However, more studies is needed in this area.

Source: European Society of Cardiology / ScienceDaily

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