The Link Between Alcohol and Heart Disease

You have undoubtedly heard that small amounts of alcohol – a glass of wine, perhaps – is beneficial to heart health because of its noted antioxidants. New studies conducted by University of California at San Francisco researchers have debunked that theory, stating that even low to moderate amounts of alcohol increase rates of atrial fibrillation. The Holter monitoring specialists at Medicomp are concerned about patient health and wish to share this information with the public so patients can make the correct choices pertaining to their health.

The research team at UCSF evaluated health data of 14,727,591 patients gathered from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). They chose subjects over age 21 who received ambulatory surgery, emergency care, or inpatient care in California during the years spanning 2005 to 2009. HCUP databases are sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and considered the nation’s most comprehensive source of hospital data.

  • The three main cardiovascular diseases are heart attack, atrial fibrillation (AF) and congestive heart failure (CHF). All three factors show increased incidences in individuals who regularly consume alcohol.
  • Researchers compared alcohol abuse with other risk factors well known to affect cardiovascular health, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. They discovered that patients who abused alcohol were three times more likely to suffer from AF than the public at large, and incidences of CHF and heart attacks in alcohol abuse aligned with well-established cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the United States. Dr. Gregory Marcus, endowed professor of AF research in the UCSF School of Medicine, states, “Treatment of alcohol abuse should be recognized as part of a preventive strategy in modifying the risk of cardiac disease.”
  • With the US population’s age edging ever upward, the sheer amount of all three diseases is rising. More than half a million Americans suffered a heart attack for the first time in 2015; six million have ongoing AF; and CHF is diagnosed 870,000 times annually. By 2030, it is estimated that health care costs for these three diseases will stagger toward $400 billion.
  • If Americans refrained from consuming alcohol, the result would be 73,000 fewer cases of AF, 34,000 patients saved from having a heart attack, and 91,000 fewer Americans with CHF annually.

As with obesity, smoking, and lack of exercise, it is going to take tremendous effort for Americans to work toward a healthy lifestyle. With continued support from their physicians, including Holter monitoring to show anomalies in the heart’s function, patients may better understand their power to change their lives for the better and extend their chances of living longer and healthier with much fewer medical expenses. Give Medicomp a call today at 800-234-3278 (800-23-HEART) to learn about the latest technology in our full line of portable cardiac monitors, and read our blogs to catch up on technological advances, surgical procedures, and patient health.

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