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30-10-2011 | Cardiology | Article

Alcohol consumption below recommended limit reduces mortality after MI


Free abstract

MedWire News: Women who drink low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol after surviving a heart attack have a decreased risk for mortality, study findings suggest.

These results indicate that women who survive myocardial infarction (MI) need not abstain from alcohol, but any derived benefit appears to occur well below currently recommended limits in alcohol consumption, report Murray Mittleman (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and colleagues.

Their analysis included 1253 women who were hospitalized for MI between 1989 and 1996, and were followed-up for mortality through the end of 2007. A total of 761 (61%) women reported abstention in the year before they experienced MI, 280 (22%) reported consumption of less than one serving (standard serving defined as ethanol 13.7 g) of alcohol per week, 75 (6%) reported consumption of one to three servings/week, and 137 (11%) reported three or more servings/week.

The researchers observed a generally inverse association between drinking at any level with mortality (p=0.008 for trend).

After adjusting for clinical and socioeconomic confounders, they found that patients who consumed less than one serving of alcohol weekly had a significant 34% reduced risk for mortality than those who abstained.

Patients who drank one to three servings per week had a 35% reduced risk for mortality than those who abstained, and those who drank three or more servings per week, a 29% reduced risk for mortality; however, these associations were nonsignificant.

No differences were found by beverage type, including beer, wine, and liquor, add the authors.

Mittleman and team point out that the associations they observed could be partially accounted for by differences between alcohol drinkers and abstainers that were not taken into account in the adjusted analyses. Indeed, they say, the abstainers were on average less healthy at the time of their myocardial infarctions than were the alcohol drinkers.

However, even after they assumed that half of the abstainers were former drinkers (in light of previous research findings), the observed reduced mortality risk among drinkers was not attenuated in this study, they say.

"Although we did include a number of socioeconomic status variables, physical activity, and health-related covariates, residual confounding by these factors (as well as by unmeasured factors) may exist," the authors conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Piriya Mahendra

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