Study finds mixed associations between alcohol intake, cardiovascular events

June 11, 2018   /

By Reuters Staff

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - New research shows an inverse link between alcohol intake and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), but a positive association with stroke risk.

"Given the known positive association of alcohol intake with all cause mortality and the risk of cancer, the opposing associations of alcohol intake we found with different cardiovascular disease types strengthen the rationale for policies to reduce alcohol consumption," researchers conclude in a report online May 29 in The BMJ.

Dr. Pietro Ferrari from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and colleagues investigated associations between drinking alcohol and risk of incident non-fatal and fatal CHD and stroke in more than 32,500 adults (ages 35-70; 52% women) without cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline in eight European countries in the EPIC-CVD study.

Among the total cohort, there were 9,307 non-fatal CHD events, 1,699 fatal CHD events, 5,855 non-fatal strokes, and 733 fatal strokes.

Alcohol intake at baseline was inversely associated with nonfatal CHD (hazard ratio, 0.94 per 12 g/day higher intake; 95% confidence interval, 0.92 to 0.96).

For fatal CHD, there was a J-shaped relationship between baseline alcohol intake and risk. The hazard ratio was 0.83 (95% CI, 0.70 to 0.98) for 5.0 to 14.9 g/day, 0.65 (95% CI, 0.53 to 0.81) for 15.0 to 29.9 g/day and 0.82 (95% CI, 0.65 to 1.03) for 30.0 to 59.9 g/day of total alcohol intake, compared with intake of 0.1 to 4.9 g/ day.

In contrast, hazard ratios for non-fatal and fatal stroke were 1.04 (95% CI, 1.02 to 1.07) and 1.05 (95% CI, 0.98 to 1.13), respectively, per 12 g/day increase in baseline alcohol intake, with results similar for ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

The associations with cardiovascular outcomes were also broadly similar with average lifetime alcohol intake as for baseline intake, and across the eight countries studied, the researchers say.

This study, they conclude, highlights the "opposing associations" of alcohol intake with different types of cardiovascular disease and "strengthens the evidence for policies to reduce alcohol consumption."

The study had no commercial funding and the authors have no conflicts of interest.


BMJ 2018.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018. Click For Restrictions -