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One Major Effect Drinking Beer Has on Heart Disease, New Study Says

Researchers suggest some cardiovascular patients may not need to overhaul a certain lifestyle choice.

The American Heart Association has stated that around 121.5 million Americans suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and that by the year 2035, 45% of all Americans will have some form of heart disease. Interestingly, if you're someone who's been diagnosed with heart disease and partake in occasional, moderate drinking, a new study suggests that particular pattern may not only be unnecessary for you to change, but it could actually help prevent you from experiencing more related conditions.

This week, a team of public health and cardiology researchers in the U.K. published a study in the peer-reviewed medical journal, BMC Medicine. They were aware that past studies had found "light-to-moderate alcohol consumption has been reported to be cardio-protective among apparently healthy individuals." So, the team set out to investigate whether alcohol shows some benefit to individuals who have already been diagnosed with heart disease.

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The researchers accessed existing data from nearly 63,000 participants in past studies or British health surveys. Then, weighting the self-reported lifestyle habits of the participants, the researchers analyzed how many of those participants went on to be diagnosed with further cardiovascular illnesses, or to die from cardiovascular disease.

The team's findings supported the notion that some drinking among cardiovascular patients who are already light to moderate drinkers may lessen the risk of further heart-related medical events, as well as death from cardiovascular disease. They state: "For secondary prevention of CVD, current drinkers may not need to stop drinking."

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Further, they explained: "[O]ur study shows that an alcohol intake up to about 105g (or equivalent to 13 UK units, with one unit equal to half a pint of beer/lager/cider, half a glass of wine, or one measure of spirits) a week is associated with lower risks of both mortality and subsequent cardiovascular events among CVD patients."

The researchers pointed out two important caveats: Patients "should be informed that the lowest risk of mortality and having another cardiovascular event is likely to be associated with lower levels of drinking," and, "non-drinking patients should not be encouraged to take up light drinking because of well-known adverse effects on other health outcomes, such as cancers."

Read more about possible explanations for these findings in 4 Major Effects Drinking Beer Has on Your Health, New Study Says and One Surprising Effect of Drinking Alcohol, New Study Says.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at <em>Eat This, Not That!</em>, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more