Alcohol increases the risk of heart disease, especially in women

Alcohol increases the risk of heart disease, especially in women

Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to an American study. This link is even more true in women, who even with moderate alcohol consumption can significantly increase their risk.

According to a study carried out by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northern California (United States), women who consume alcohol have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This study, presented at the annual scientific session of the American College of Cardiology, analyzed data from 430,000 people aged 18 to 65.

The subjects did not suffer from heart disease at the start of the work, in order to study the link between their alcohol consumption and the risks of developing coronary heart disease during the four years of follow-up. At the end of the period, 3,018 participants were diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Scientists have noticed that the incidence of this condition increases with levels of alcohol consumption.

Furthermore, the link between alcohol and cardiovascular diseases appears more significant in women. Those who reported high alcohol consumption (more than eight drinks per week) had a 45% higher risk of heart disease than women who reported moderate alcohol consumption (three to seven drinks per week), compared to a risk of 33% in men. Women with moderate consumption had a 29% higher risk compared to women who reported low consumption (one to two drinks per week). Women with heavy drinking (more than three drinks in a single day) were 68% more likely to develop heart disease than women reporting moderate alcohol consumption.

In women we see an ever higher risk, even in the absence of excessive alcohol consumption“, comments Jamal Rana, lead author of the study, in a press release. “Women think they are protected against heart disease until they are older, but this study shows that even when you are young or middle-aged, if you consume a lot of alcohol or indulge in binge drinking, you are at risk of coronary heart disease“.

The study researchers point out that alcohol increases blood pressure and can lead to “metabolic changes associated with inflammation and obesity.” They add that women assimilate alcohol differently than men, which modifies their risks.

Despite some limitations to take into account (notably the declarative aspect of the responses), “this study draws attention to the health risks of alcohol consumption and underlines the importance of taking alcohol consumption into account in heart disease risk assessment and prevention efforts.”

When it comes to heart disease, the first thing that comes to mind is smoking, and we don’t think of alcohol as one of the vital signs“, said Jamal Rana. “I think more awareness is needed and alcohol should be part of routine health assessments in the future.