According to new research presented at the Heart Failure 2022, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology, levels of alcohol consumption previously considered safe by some countries are linked to the development of heart failure.
According to the World Health Organization, the European Union is the heaviest-drinking region in the world. While it is well recognized that long-term heavy alcohol use can cause a type of heart failure called alcoholic cardiomyopathy, evidence from Asian populations suggests that lower amounts may also be detrimental.
The STOP-HF Trial included a total of 744 adults over 40 years of age either at risk of developing heart failure due to risk factors or with pre-heart failure (risk factors and heart abnormalities but no symptoms). The researchers used the Irish definition of one standard drink of 10 grams of alcohol.
The researchers analyzed the association between alcohol use and heart health over a median of 5.4 years.
A total of 201 (27%) patients reported no alcohol use, while 356 (48%) were low users and 187 (25%) had moderate or high intake.
In the pre-heart failure group moderate to high intake of alcohol was associated with a 4.5-fold increased risk of worsening heart health. In the at-risk group, there was no association between moderate or high alcohol use with progression to pre-heart failure or to symptomatic heart failure, and no protective associations were found with low alcohol intake.
The researchers concluded that drinking more than 70 g of alcohol per week is associated with worsening pre-heart failure or progression to symptomatic heart failure in Europeans. Also, they did not observe any health benefits of low alcohol consumption, which was previously considered to be beneficial.
European Society of Cardiology. “Alcohol may be more risky to the heart than previously thought.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/05/220523135032.htm>.