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Moderate alcohol consumption may reduce your chances of a heart attack

  • 1 of every 2 men and 1 of every 3 women age 40 or less will develop coronary heart disease (CHD).

  • CHD is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S.

  • High levels of a clotting protein called fibrinogen may contribute to CHD.

  • Moderate alcohol consumption may decrease fibrinogen levels, thereby decreasing harmful clotting.

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The most common form of heart disease is coronary heart disease (CHD), which occurs when the coronary arteries become narrowed or clogged and cannot supply enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. High amounts of a clotting protein called fibrinogen - levels of which tend to increase as people grow older - are associated with coronary artery, cerebral vascular and peripheral vascular diseases. However, a recent study published in the December issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research shows that moderate consumption of alcohol may decrease production and circulating levels of fibrinogen by up to 20 percent.

"This is a very significant finding," said Gerald M. Fuller, senior study author and professor of cell biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Anything that we can take naturally that reduces high circulating levels of fibrinogen by 15 to 20 percent could have a big impact in terms of coronary artery diseases." He added that "epidemiological studies have overwhelmingly demonstrated the importance of fibrinogen as a risk factor, and diminishing it by a small amount can have a truly profound effect."

Researchers studied the impact of daily consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol - equivalent to roughly two drinks per day - at two levels: using an animal model (in vivo) and liver-derived cells (in vitro). The animal-study findings demonstrated an 18 to 20 percent decrease in the circulatin
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Contact: Gerald M. Fuller, Ph.D.
gmfuller@cellbio.bhs.uab.edu
205-934-7596
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
13-Dec-1999


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