Moderate alcohol intake provides survival benefit for older adults with heart failure


Many people used to refrain themselves from alcohol use after they face life-threatening events like heart failure. But, a new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, has suggested that moderate drinking is not harmful to older adults with heart failure and in fact, it also provides them with a survival benefit when compared to people who abstained from alcohol.

Researchers found that moderate drinkers used to survive for more than a year when compared to alcohol abstainers, and this is undoubtedly a statistically significant figure. The study report also made it clear that people who have never drunk alcohol should not start the habit just to procure this survival benefit.

"My patients who are newly diagnosed with heart failure often ask me if they should stop having that glass of wine every night. And until now, I didn't have a good answer for them. We have long known that the toxic effects of excessive drinking can contribute to heart failure. In contrast, we have data showing that healthy people who drink moderately seem to have some protection from heart failure over the long term, compared with people who don't drink at all. But there was very little, if any, data to help us advise people who drink moderately and have just been diagnosed with heart failure," said David L Brown, a cardiologist and the lead author of the study, reports.

Researchers have also defined the criteria for moderate drinking. Experts who took part in the study revealed that one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men can be considered moderate drinking. One serving of alcohol can be either 12-ounce beer, a 6-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor.

Even though researchers have suggested the association between moderate drinking and longer survival times, they did not conclude that moderate drinking is a protective factor. As per researchers, this single factor or the combination of many factors could be the result of increased survival rate among moderate drinkers.

The study report also made it clear that there is no evidence regarding the improvement of the health of non-drinkers if they start moderate drinking after heart failure.

"People who develop heart failure at an older age and never drank shouldn't start drinking. But our study suggests people who have had a daily drink or two before their diagnosis of heart failure can continue to do so without concern that it's causing harm. Even so, that decision should always be made in consultation with their doctors," added Brown.

The study report is published in the journal JAMA Network Open.