28/03/2012 02:48 BST | Updated 28/03/2012 04:25 BST

Male Heart Attack Victims Slash Death Risks With Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Men who have survived a heart attack and drink alcohol regularly have a lower risk of death from heart disease than those who rarely drink, a study has discovered.

The findings, taken from the US Health Professionals Follow-up Study of 2,000 male heart attack victims, discovered that those who drank an average of two alcoholic drinks a day had a 42% decreased chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers also discovered that heart attack survivors who drank regularly were 14% less likely to die from general health conditions compared to non-drinkers.

The study investigated the link by questioning 1818 men who had survived a heart attack between 1986 and 2006. During the study and follow ups, they questioned the men on their alcohol consumption and diet every four years.

Previous studies have highlighted the link between light to moderate alcohol intake and lower risk of heart disease, however this is the first time research has established a link between moderate alcohol and lower death rates in those who already have established heart problems.

"Our findings clearly demonstrate that long-term moderate alcohol consumption among men who survived a heart attack was associated with a reduced risk of total and cardiovascular mortality,” said researcher Dr Jennifer Pai.

“We also found that among men who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol prior to a heart attack, those who continued to consume alcohol 'in moderation' afterwards also had better long term prognosis."

However, researchers added that they discovered a ‘U’ turn in the results in men who drank more than moderately, as they had the same death rate risk than non-drinkers.

Researchers also added that their findings don’t mean heart attack victims should hit the bottle, as the key is moderation.

"The adverse health effects of heavy drinking are well known, and include high blood pressure, reduced heart function and reduced ability to break down blood clots. In addition, other studies have shown that any benefits from light drinking are entirely eliminated after episodes of binge drinking," explains Dr Pai.

"Our results, showing the greatest benefit among moderate drinkers and a suggestion of excess mortality among men who consumed more than two drinks a day after a heart attack, emphasise the importance of alcohol in moderation.”

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