Harvard Health Letter

Moderate alcohol consumption associated with heart problems

Many previous studies of adults of all ages have found that "moderate" drinking—one or two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women—seems to protect against getting heart disease. A recent Harvard study challenges this notion, at least among older adults. The findings, published in the June 2015 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, suggest that even moderate amounts of alcohol are associated with heart damage among adults older than age 65. Researchers correlated weekly alcohol consumption among more than 4,400 seniors (average age 76) with the size, structure, and motion of the heart. The more people drank, the more researchers saw changes on images showing the heart's structure and function. This could mean that any alcohol intake may put older adults at a higher risk of developing heart problems, such as cardiomyopathy (which can lead to heart failure), a condition long associated with heavy drinking.

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