The study examined data from the Lyon Diet Heart Study, a randomized trial evaluating whether the Mediterranean diet may prevent further cardiovascular disease or death after a first or recent heart attack.
The impact of regular moderate alcohol consumption in patients with heart disease is limited and controversial, says Michel de Lorgeril, M.D., the study's lead researcher, at the Cardiovascular Stress and Associated Pathology Laboratory, at the Joseph Fourier University of Grenoble, France. The Lyon trial offered a unique opportunity to examine the issues in a very homogenous group of French middle-aged male survivors of a recent heart attack.
Researchers evaluated 353 men from the ages of 40 to 60 and classified the amount of alcohol they routinely drank. There were no significant differences in the severity of prior heart attack the main indicator of new complications in medications used, or in the diet among the drinking ranges.
During a mean follow-up of four years, 104 cardiovascular complications (including recurrent heart attack, stroke and heart failure) occurred. Thirty six of the complications occurred among men who abstained from alcohol; 34 among men who drank less than two glasses of wine a day; 18 among those who drank about two glasses a day, and 16 among men who drank an average of four to five glasses of wine a day. Each glass of wine was about four ounces, says de Lorgeril.
Compared with nondrinkers, men who drank two or more glasses of wine each day reduced their risk for a recurrent heart attack by more than 50 percent compared to nondrinkers.