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Alcohol and coronary heart disease.
Kwang Ho Meng
Abstract
In recent years, a number of epidemiological studies have revealed that habitual moderate alcohol drinking is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The apparent pretective effect is not large, but the consistency of the association and the existence of plausible mechanisms increase the likelihood that the negative assoceation is causal. Possible mechanisms include the effect of regular drinking on increasing high density lipopretein cholesterol and the acute effect of alcohol on depressing platelet aggregation and reducing fibrinogen levels. However, other studies which have shown that alcohol acutely impairs ventricular function and increases the risk of arrhythmias, suggest the opposite. Much of this controversy concern the varying definitions of 'heavy' and 'moderate' drinking and some methodological problems. With considering of these issues, this paper reviews two major questions: does heavy alcohol intake increase the risk of coronary heart disease? And, is moderate intake protective? This paper, then, concludes that evisdence is far from complete: but it does point towards a pretective effect of moderate alcohol consumption. However, if alcohol intake were to increase in the population the social and medical consequences would be large. An increased alcohol intake is therefore not recommended as a community measure for coronary heart disease prevention.


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