25 January 2019 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Alcohol consumption is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), with moderate drinkers having decreased CVD risk compared to non- and heavy drinkers. However, whether alcohol consumption is associated with ideal cardiovascular health (CVH), assessed by the American Heart Association's (AHA) Life's Simple 7 (LS7) metrics, and whether associations differ by sex, is uncertain.

HYPOTHESIS: Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with worse CVH.

METHODS: We explored associations between alcohol consumption and CVH in a multi-ethnic population including 6506 participants free of CVD, aged 45 to 84 years. Each LS7 metric was scored 0 to 2 points. Total score was categorized as inadequate (0-8), average (9-10) and optimal (11-14). Participants were classified as never, former or current drinkers. Current drinkers were categorized as 2 (heavy) drinks/day. Multinomial logistic regression models assessed associations between alcohol and CVH, adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, and health insurance.

RESULTS: Mean (SD) age was 62 (10) years, 53% were women. Compared to never drinkers, those with >2 drinks/day were less likely to have average [0.61 (0.43-0.87)] and optimal CVH [0.29 (0.17-0.49)]. Binge drinking was also associated with unfavorable CVH. Overall, there was no independent association for light or moderate drinking with CVH. However, women with 1 to 2 drinks/day were more likely to have optimal CVH [1.85 (1.19-2.88)] compared to non-drinking women, which was not seen in men.

CONCLUSION: Heavy alcohol consumption was associated with unfavorable CVH. Although light or moderate drinking may be associated with a more favorable CVH in women, overall, the association was not strong.

18 May 2018 In General Health

OBJECTIVES: The primary goal was to examine the relationship between alcohol use and frailty, a variable characterizing late-life decline, in a national, longitudinal survey of older adults living in the United States.

METHODS: The sample drawn from the Health and Retirement Study included 9,499 stroke-free participants over age 65 in 2000. The sample was 59.1% female, and had a mean age of 74.25 years (SD = 6.99). Follow-up data was from 2004, 2008, and 2012. Frailty was defined phenotypically using the Paulson-Lichtenberg Frailty Index (PLFI). Alcohol use was measured via self-report. Control variables included age, race, education, socio-economic status (SES), depressive symptomatology, medical burden score, body mass index (BMI), and partner status. With abstinent participants as the reference group, logistic regressions were conducted to determine prevalent frailty at 2000, and Cox's proportional hazard models were utilized to determine time to incident frailty over a 12-year period.

RESULTS: Results revealed that age, depressive symptomatology, and medical burden score were significant positive correlates of prevalent and incident frailty (p < .05) for both males and females. Logistic regressions revealed that consumption of 1-7 alcoholic drinks per week was associated with reduced prevalent frailty (OR = .49, p < .001) for females. Survival analysis results reveal that compared with nondrinkers, males and females who reportedly consumed 1-7 drinks per week had a decreased probability of incident frailty (HR = .78-081, p < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that moderate alcohol use confers reduced frailty risk for both older men and women. Future research should examine the mechanism(s) relating alcohol consumption and frailty.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Findings support extant literature suggesting some healthcare benefits may be associated with moderate drinking.

22 June 2017 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: Moderate alcohol use has been broadly associated with health benefits among older adults, including improved mood. Aims of this study were to evaluate the relationship of moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology over a period of eight years, and to examine inflammation, indicated by C-reactive protein (CRP), as one mechanism by which this relationship functions.

METHODS: The study included 3177 community-dwelling participants over the age of 65 in 2008 drawn from the Health and Retirement Study. Data from the 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2014 waves were used. Alcohol use was measured via self-report and was dichotomized as abstinent (0 drinks per week) and moderate (1-14 drinks per week). Inflammation was measured using CRP, which was collected using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and provided in units of mug/mL. Control variables included gender, age, body mass index (BMI), and medical burden.

RESULTS: A latent growth curve model with full information maximum likelihood was used, with results revealing that moderate drinkers endorsed fewer depressive symptoms at baseline and a steeper rate of change over time. Abstinent respondents' depressive symptomatology was characterized by a more linear change rate. Further, moderate drinkers had lower CRP levels suggesting that inflammation partially mediates the relationship between moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology.

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate alcohol use predicts fewer depressive symptoms among older adults. This relationship is partially moderated by CRP and is eroded by the passage of time. Future research should identify additional mechanisms relating alcohol to positive health outcomes and less depressive symptomatology. Copyright (c) 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

15 December 2016 In General Health

BACKGROUND: frailty is an indicator of late-life decline marked by higher rates of disability and healthcare utilisation. Research has linked health benefits with moderate alcohol use, including frailty risk reduction. Past work suggests inflammation, measured by C-reactive protein (CRP), as one candidate mechanism for this effect.

OBJECTIVE: this study aims to elucidate a possible mechanism - CRP modulation - by which moderate alcohol consumption may protect against frailty.

METHODS: a cross-sectional study using data from the 2008 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) conducted by the University of Michigan. The HRS is a cohort study on health, retirement and aging on adults aged 50 and older living in the USA. A final sample of 3,229 stroke-free participants, over the age of 65 years and with complete data, was identified from the 2008 wave. Alcohol use was measured via self-report. Frailty was measured using the Paulson-Lichtenberg Frailty Index. CRP was collected through the HRS protocol.

RESULTS: results from structural equation modelling support the hypothesised model that moderate alcohol use is associated with less frailty and lower CRP levels. Furthermore, the indirect relationship from moderate alcohol use to frailty through CRP was statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: overall findings suggest that inflammation measured by CRP is one mechanism by which moderate alcohol use may confer protective effects for frailty. These findings inform future research relating alcohol use and frailty, and suggest inflammation as a possible mechanism in the relationship between moderate alcohol use and other beneficial health outcomes.

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