Moderate drinking asks for one glass a day for women and two glasses for men in a single day. Experts believe that drinking alcohol in moderation is a healthier decision for heavy drinkers.
A recent study published at the American College of Cardiology’s 70th Annual Scientific Session revealed that moderate drinking might lower the possibility of dying from cardiovascular diseases.
Moreover, this study is the first to demonstrate that consuming small alcohol levels can be healthy for the heart since it can reduce stress-related brain signals.
In a recent post, Healthline has discussed the potential of moderate drinking for cardiovascular diseases.
The Study on Moderate Drinking
The researchers collected data from the Mass General Brigham Biobank health care survey. Researchers examined a total of 53,064 participants, of which 59.9% were female. The average age of the participants was 57.2 years.
The participants were grouped as low drinkers, moderate drinkers, and high drinkers on the grounds of self-report. Low drinkers had less than a drink in a week, while moderate drinkers had 1-14 drinks a week. For high drinkers, it was more than 14 drinks a week.
The researchers used diagnostic (ICD) codes to monitor primary adverse coronary conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and associated hospitalizations.
Besides, the researcher performed F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography, or PET imaging, on 752 participants. Such scans are supposed to conduct cancer screening, but they allowed researchers to measure the brain’s parts for elevated activities accurately.
The results depicted that only 7905 (15%) out of 53064 participants experienced adverse cardiovascular problems.
Those taking alcohol in moderation had a 20% lower chance of facing adverse cardiovascular events than those taking the drink in low amounts.
The moderate drinkers also had low stress-related brain activity than low alcohol drinkers.
How Moderate Drinking Helps the Heart?
The study’s researchers said that moderate drinking sends a lower amount of stress-related signals to the brain, which is the primary reason it helps the heart.
The results of brain imaging revealed that stress-related activity was higher in non-drinking participants. Besides, those with heavy drinking routines also had increased stress-related brain activity.
On the flip side, those with alcohol in moderation had lower stress-related activity than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers.
You might already know that hypertension and stress are the primary reasons for cardiovascular diseases. The lead researcher and a nuclear cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Kenechukwu Mezue, alleged that drinking alcohol in moderation can help people relax and reduce stress, consequently decreasing cardiovascular disease.
What Did Experts Say About Alcohol Consumption as Stress Reliever?
The study results were in favor of moderate drinking. In other words, the study suggested drinking a glass or two of alcohol a day for a healthy heart, owing to its stress-relieving effects.
Despite the study findings, Dr. Kenechukwu Mezue did not favor using alcohol as a protection against heart diseases.
He said that their study does not aim to buoy up alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption brings a lot of health risks. Not only that, but moderate drinking can also accompany a greater risk of developing cancer or addiction to alcohol.
He further explained that excessive alcohol drinking could negatively affect the heart since it comes with risks of heart failure or dilated cardiomyopathy and atrial fibrillation.
Further, Mezue, while showing some hope for the future, said that focusing attention on this possible pathway for preventing cardiovascular events will pave the way for alternative drug discovery that can improve stress relief while avoiding the harmful effects of alcohol.
Another cardiologist and clinical professor at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine, Dr. Eugene Yang, while agreeing with the Mezue, said that the primary issue with alcohol consumption is addiction.
He was not in favor of consuming alcohol, not even in moderation, to cherish the potential benefits. However, he suggested that alcohol consumers should drink in moderation. Moreover, people using illegal drugs or substance misuse history must not consume alcohol for stress relief.
Agreeing with Mezue, Yang added that alcohol could increase the risk of getting arrhythmias, for instance, atrial fibrillation and hypertension.
It is not safe for people with a history of hypertension or atrial fibrillation to consume alcohol only to cherish the possible health benefits of minimizing the brain stress signal.
The Limitations of the Study
The study does not come with enough data that could lead medical experts to start recommending alcohol.
Dr. Yang highlighted a vital side of the study: that size of the study was too small for medical experts to make recommendations based on the results only. The study results were hazy to prove that moderate consumption works to reduce stress signal, which in turn lowers heart disease risk.
Another factor is that the study depended on self-reporting of alcohol intake, relying on average drinks per week. This factor indicates the potential ambiguity of the data.
Furthermore, the data were all collected from a single-center, and each scanning sub-study group only had one brain scan. Besides, it is necessary to confirm that stress-signal reduction was due to moderate alcohol consumption, not other factors.
How to Lower the Risk of Heart Diseases Instead of Moderate Drinking?
Experts do not recommend moderate drinking for heart health, but their other healthy alternative for reducing cardiovascular disease risk. So rather than depending on drinking, one must follow ways with proven benefits for heart diseases.
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve heart health. By exercising heart pushes more blood to pump to your body. Consequently, the heartbeat slows, and blood pressure stays in control.
Besides, workouts also raise your HDL cholesterol levels, also known as good cholesterol. HDL tends to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by emptying them from bad cholesterol.
Dr. Yang recommended exercising moderately for 150 minutes a week. Walking, jogging, biking, or swimming are some of the best exercises for a healthy heart.
Consuming less salt and a high amount of unsaturated fats are some of the healthiest decisions for heart health.
Choosing fresh food over processed food, eating natural rather than artificial, and consuming natural oils are ideal ways to get on the track of a low-sodium diet.
Meditation or Yoga
An ancient way of exercising Yoga is known for its stress-relieving effects. Yoga also enhances breathing and blood pressure, which is good for the heart.
Yoga can also help decrease heart rate, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, including the pulse rate, which can minimize the chances of hypertension, strokes, and cardiovascular disease.
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