BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Women who regularly enjoy an alcoholic drink or two have a significantly lower risk of having a non-fatal heart attack than women who are life-time abstainers, epidemiologists at the University at Buffalo have shown.
Moderation is the key, however. Women in the study who reported being intoxicated at least once a month were nearly three times more likely to suffer a heart attack than abstainers, results showed.
One difference in the protective pattern among drinkers involved those who drank primarily liquor. Women who preferred liquor to wine experienced a borderline increase in risk of heart attack, results showed.
The study is published in the May 2007 issue of the journal Addiction.
"These findings have important implications, because heart disease is the leading cause of death for women," said Joan M. Dorn, Ph.D., associate professor of social and preventive medicine in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions and first author on the study.
Women seem to have a quicker reaction to a smaller amount of alcohol, she noted: "Overdoing it is harmful, and what is too much depends on each individual. In some women, one drink can cause intoxication."
Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to lower the risk of heart attack, but most studies have been done with men. The current study compared alcohol drinking volume and drinking patterns of women who had been hospitalized due to a heart attack, with age-matched controls without heart problems.
Women who had a prior heart attack, coronary bypass surgery, angioplasty, angina or a previous diagnosis of cardiovascular disease were excluded from the study.
Participants -- 320 heart attack patients and 1,565 controls -- were enrolled between 1996 and 2001. Extensive information was collected on the type of beverage consumed, serving size for each beverage and number of drinks consumed during the two years prior to the heart at
Contact: Lois Baker
University at Buffalo