06 May 2014 In Dementia

BACKGROUND: dementia and cognitive decline have been linked to cardiovascular risk. Alcohol has known negative effects in large quantities but may be protective for the cardiovascular system in smaller amounts. Effect of alcohol intake may be greater in the elderly and may impact on cognition.

METHODS: to evaluate the evidence for any relationship between incident cognitive decline or dementia in the elderly and alcohol consumption, a systematic review and meta-analyses were carried out. Criteria for inclusion were longitudinal studies of subjects aged >or=65, with primary outcomes of incident dementia/cognitive decline.

RESULTS: 23 studies were identified (20 epidemiological cohort, three retrospective matched case-control nested in a cohort). Meta-analyses suggest that small amounts of alcohol may be protective against dementia (random effects model, risk ratio [RR] 0.63; 95% CI 0.53-0.75) and Alzheimer's disease (RR 0.57; 0.44-0.74) but not for vascular dementia (RR 0.82; 0.50-1.35) or cognitive decline (RR 0.89; 0.67-1.17) However, studies varied, with differing lengths of follow up, measurement of alcohol intake, inclusion of true abstainers and assessment of potential confounders.

CONCLUSIONS: because of the heterogeneity in the data these findings should be interpreted with caution. However, there is some evidence to suggest that limited alcohol intake in earlier adult life may be protective against incident dementia later.

06 May 2014 In Cardiovascular System

An extensive body of data shows concordant J-shaped associations between alcohol intake and a variety of adverse health outcomes, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, stroke, dementia, Raynaud's phenomenon, and all-cause mortality. Light to moderate alcohol consumption (up to 1 drink daily for women and 1 or 2 drinks daily for men) is associated with cardioprotective benefits, whereas increasingly excessive consumption results in proportional worsening of outcomes. Alcohol consumption confers cardiovascular protection predominately through improvements in insulin sensitivity and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The ethanol itself, rather than specific components of various alcoholic beverages, appears to be the major factor in conferring health benefits. Low-dose daily alcohol is associated with better health than less frequent consumption. Binge drinking, even among otherwise light drinkers, increases cardiovascular events and mortality. Alcohol should not be universally prescribed for health enhancement to nondrinking individuals owing to the lack of randomized outcome data and the potential for problem drinking.

06 May 2014 In Cardiovascular System

Although heavy alcohol consumption has deleterious effects on heart health, moderate drinking is thought to have cardioprotective effects, reducing the risk of coronary artery disease and improving prognosis after a myocardial infarction. It still is unclear, however, if this effect can be achieved with all types of alcoholic beverages and results from the alcohol itself, from other compounds found in alcoholic beverages, or both. For example, the polyphenolic compound resveratrol, which is found particularly in red wine, can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis; however, it is not clear if the resveratrol levels present in wine are sufficient to achieve this result. Alcohol itself contributes to cardioprotection through several mechanisms. For example, it can improve the cholesterol profile, increasing the levels of "good" cholesterol and reducing the levels of "bad" cholesterol. Alcohol also may contribute to blood clot dissolution and may induce a phenomenon called pre-conditioning, whereby exposure to moderate alcohol levels (like short bouts of blood supply disruption [i.e., ischemia]), and result in reduced damage to the heart tissue after subsequent prolonged ischemia. Finally, the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) 2, which is involved in alcohol metabolism, also may contribute to alcohol-related cardioprotection by metabolizing other harmful aldehydes that could damage the heart muscle.

06 May 2014 In Cardiovascular System

While ethanol intake at high levels (3-4 or more drinks), either in acute (occasional binge drinking) or chronic (daily) settings, increases the risk for myocardial infarction and stroke, an inverse relationship between regular consumption of alcoholic beverages at light to moderate levels (1-2 drinks per day) and cardiovascular risk has been consistently noted in a large number of epidemiologic studies. Although initially attributed to polyphenolic antioxidants in red wine, subsequent work has established that the ethanol component contributes to the beneficial effects associated with moderate intake of alcoholic beverages regardless of type (red versus white wine, beer, spirits). Concerns have been raised with regard to interpretation of epidemiologic evidence for this association including heterogeneity of the reference groups examined in many studies, different lifestyles of moderate drinkers versus abstainers, and favorable risk profiles in moderate drinkers. However, better controlled epidemiologic studies and especially work conducted in animal models and cell culture systems have substantiated this association and clearly established a cause and effect relationship between alcohol consumption and reductions in tissue injury induced by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), respectively. The aims of this review are to summarize the epidemiologic evidence supporting the effectiveness of ethanol ingestion in reducing the likelihood of adverse cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke, even in patients with co-existing risk factors, to discuss the ideal quantities, drinking patterns, and types of alcoholic beverages that confer protective effects in the cardiovascular system, and to review the findings of recent experimental studies directed at uncovering the mechanisms that underlie the cardiovascular protective effects of antecedent ethanol ingestion. Mechanistic interrogation of the signaling pathways invoked by antecedent ethanol ingestion may point the way towards development of new therapeutic approaches that mimic the powerful protective effects of socially relevant alcohol intake to limit I/R injury, but minimize the negative psychosocial impact and pathologic outcomes that also accompany. consumption of ethanol

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