Alcohol Ups Long-Term Survival After Heart Attack

Many studies have shown that that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can stave off heart disease, but a new study now suggests that drinking alcohol can also help women with heart disease live longer.

The study, published Friday in the American Journal of Cardiology, found that women who drank more than three servings of alcohol per week may be more likely to live longer after having a heart attack.

Researchers followed more than 1,000 women who previously had a heart attack and found that those who drank anywhere from 1 to 3 servings a week, or 3 or more servings a week — regardless of the type of beverage — were more likely survive a decade after their heart attack compared to those who abstained from alcohol.

“Even infrequent consumption has biologic importance in women,” authors of the study wrote, suggesting that something is better than nothing.

But this doesn’t suggest that more drinks mean better health. Previous studies suggest drinking more alcohol can increase the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and breast cancer. Frequent alcohol consumption can also lead to addiction.

The authors said the group of women in their study who were considered among the group of abstainers could have been former drinkers who quit because of health-related reasons. The participants of the study were not asked whether they were former drinkers.

The American Heart Association recommends an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

“Our results suggest that women who survive myocardial infarctions [heart attacks] need not abstain from alcohol consumption and indeed might have lower risk for mortality,” the authors wrote.

But, they caution that the amount of alcohol reportedly consumed by their participants was well below the recommended level.