The benefits of alcohol for heart health are not all equal, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Adelaide have shown that drinking less than six standard glasses of alcohol a week is associated with a lowered risk of developing atrial fibrillation. However, not all of this alcohol is created equal.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a rapid and irregular heart rate that can often increase the risk of heart failure, stroke, and other heart-related complications. Symptoms include shortness of breath, weakness, and heart palpitations.
Past research has shown that large consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation. However, it was not previously clear whether consumption of low amounts of alcohol can increase this risk as well.
The study published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology used data from the UK biobank. This large-scale research database has health information collected from half a million UK volunteers.
In the conclusion of the study, it was found that participants who consumed less than six standard drinks of alcohol per week were at the lowest risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
Researchers also noted that cider and beer consumption were associated with an overall greater risk of atrial fibrillation compared to both white and red wine consumption. They believe those currently consuming alcohol should switch to drinking either red or white wine as a potentially safer alternative to other types of alcoholic beverages.
AFIB Patients Should Reduce Alcohol Consumption
These findings do not apply to people who already suffer from atrial fibrillation. It’s suggested that these patients cut down their alcohol consumption, as this may reduce their symptoms.
Another key element to this study that researchers sought to answer was whether the effect of alcohol is different from men to women in terms of developing atrial fibrillation. It was concluded that less than six drinks per week is the cut-off for both women and men.
These studies helped to add to the mounting evidence of the health benefits of drinking wine in moderation. But, more research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind the lowered risk of atrial fibrillation from wine compared to beer and cider.
Previous studies have shown that red wine in moderation can be beneficial for heart health. The substances found in red wine called antioxidants, including resveratrol, may help to prevent coronary artery disease, the condition that leads to heart attacks.