18 May 2018 In General Health
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association between alcohol consumption and left ventricular (LV) function in a population with low average alcohol intake. DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1296 healthy participants, free from cardiovascular diseases, were randomly selected from the third wave of the Norwegian HUNT study (2006-2008) and underwent echocardiography. After validation of the inclusion criteria, 30 participants were excluded due to arrhythmias or myocardial or valvular pathology. Alcohol consumption, sociodemographic and major cardiovascular risk factors were assessed by questionnaires and clinical examination in the HUNT3. General linear models were used to analyse the cross-sectional associations between alcohol intake and LV indices. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: LV functional and structural indices were measured with tissue Doppler and speckle tracking echocardiography. RESULTS: We observed no associations between alcohol consumption and multivariable-adjusted LV functional indices. Excluding abstainers who reported regular alcohol consumption 10 years prior to the baseline did not change the results. Alcohol consumption was positively associated with LV mass indices (p<0.01 for linear trend of the means); there was no such association among participants with non-risky drinking characteristics (p=0.67 for linear trend of the means). CONCLUSIONS: We found no clear evidence that light-moderate alcohol consumption is associated with measures of LV function, although our results indicate that consumption, especially when marked by binge drinking, is progressively associated with greater LV mass
18 May 2018 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Low-risk limits recommended for alcohol consumption vary substantially across different national guidelines. To define thresholds associated with lowest risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease, we studied individual-participant data from 599 912 current drinkers without previous cardiovascular disease.

METHODS: We did a combined analysis of individual-participant data from three large-scale data sources in 19 high-income countries (the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration, EPIC-CVD, and the UK Biobank). We characterised dose-response associations and calculated hazard ratios (HRs) per 100 g per week of alcohol (12.5 units per week) across 83 prospective studies, adjusting at least for study or centre, age, sex, smoking, and diabetes. To be eligible for the analysis, participants had to have information recorded about their alcohol consumption amount and status (ie, non-drinker vs current drinker), plus age, sex, history of diabetes and smoking status, at least 1 year of follow-up after baseline, and no baseline history of cardiovascular disease. The main analyses focused on current drinkers, whose baseline alcohol consumption was categorised into eight predefined groups according to the amount in grams consumed per week. We assessed alcohol consumption in relation to all-cause mortality, total cardiovascular disease, and several cardiovascular disease subtypes. We corrected HRs for estimated long-term variability in alcohol consumption using 152 640 serial alcohol assessments obtained some years apart (median interval 5.6 years [5th-95th percentile 1.04-13.5]) from 71 011 participants from 37 studies.

FINDINGS: In the 599 912 current drinkers included in the analysis, we recorded 40 310 deaths and 39 018 incident cardiovascular disease events during 5.4 million person-years of follow-up. For all-cause mortality, we recorded a positive and curvilinear association with the level of alcohol consumption, with the minimum mortality risk around or below 100 g per week. Alcohol consumption was roughly linearly associated with a higher risk of stroke (HR per 100 g per week higher consumption 1.14, 95% CI, 1.10-1.17), coronary disease excluding myocardial infarction (1.06, 1.00-1.11), heart failure (1.09, 1.03-1.15), fatal hypertensive disease (1.24, 1.15-1.33); and fatal aortic aneurysm (1.15, 1.03-1.28). By contrast, increased alcohol consumption was log-linearly associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction (HR 0.94, 0.91-0.97). In comparison to those who reported drinking >0-100-200-350 g per week had lower life expectancy at age 40 years of approximately 6 months, 1-2 years, or 4-5 years, respectively.

INTERPRETATION: In current drinkers of alcohol in high-income countries, the threshold for lowest risk of all-cause mortality was about 100 g/week. For cardiovascular disease subtypes other than myocardial infarction, there were no clear risk thresholds below which lower alcohol consumption stopped being associated with lower disease risk. These data support limits for alcohol consumption that are lower than those recommended in most current guidelines.

FUNDING: UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, National Institute for Health Research, European Union Framework 7, and European Research Council.

18 May 2018 In Dementia

Alcohol consumption is common in Western countries and has been increasing in older adults. Latest figures from Great Britain suggest 75% of those over 65 years drink, an increase from 71% 10 years ago. Chronic heavy intake is a well-established cause of brain atrophy and dementia, with a recent long-term prospective study from the USA reporting a doubling of the odds of later severe memory impairment in those with a history of an alcohol use disorder. Drinking of moderate amounts has been reported to be protective for brain health in a number of epidemiological studies, including some claims of possibly reducing dementia risk. Rigorous recent research has questioned this belief, with new evidence of harmful associations in moderate drinkers compared with abstainers. This has raised suspicion that reported protective effects of moderate drinking were due to confounding by socioeconomic class and intelligence. Clinicians should look out for cognitive impairment in heavy drinkers, considering that abstinence may induce a degree of clinical improvement. Discussions with patients regarding moderate drinking should be informed by recent research. Health benefits of moderate drinking at least for cognitive function are questionable, and if they exist are probably limited to one unit of alcohol daily with respect to other body systems.

18 May 2018 In Cardiovascular System

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, incidence and death increases from around the time of menopause comparing to women in reproductive age. A healthy lifestyle can prevent CVD, but it is unclear which lifestyle factors may help maintain and improve cardiovascular health for women after menopausal transition. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies to evaluate the association between modifiable lifestyle factors (specifically smoking, physical activity, alcohol intake, and obesity), with CVD and mortality in middle-aged and elderly women. Pubmed, Embase, among other databases and reference lists were searched until February 29th, 2016. Study specific relative risks (RR) were meta-analyzed using random effect models. We included 59 studies involving 5,358,902 women. Comparing current versus never smokers, pooled RR were 3.12 (95% CI 2.15-4.52) for CHD incidence, 2.09 (95% CI 1.51-2.89) for stroke incidence, 2.76 (95% CI 1.62-4.71) for CVD mortality and 2.22 (95% CI 1.92-2.57) for all-cause mortality. Physical activity was associated with a decreased risk of 0.74 (95% CI 0.67-0.80) for overall CVD, 0.71 (95% CI 0.67-0.75) for CHD, 0.77 (95% CI 0.70-0.85) for stroke, 0.70 (95% CI 0.58-0.84) for CVD mortality and 0.71 (95% CI 0.65-0.78) for all-cause mortality. Comparing moderate drinkers versus non-drinkers, the RR was 0.72 (95% CI 0.56-0.91) for CHD, 0.63 (95% CI 0.57-0.71) for CVD mortality and 0.80 (95% CI 0.76-0.84) for all-cause mortality. For women with BMI 30-35 kg/m(2) the risk was 1.67 (95% CI 1.24-2.25) for CHD and 2.3 (95% CI 1.56-3.40) for CVD mortality, compared to normal weight. Each 5 kg/m(2) increase in BMI was associated with 24% (95% CI 16-33%) higher risk for all-cause mortality. This meta-analysis suggests that physical activity and moderate alcohol intake were associated with a reduced risk for CVD and mortality. Smoking and higher BMI were associated with an increased risk of these endpoints. Adherence to a healthy lifestyle may substantially lower the burden of CVD and reduce the risk of mortality among middle-aged and elderly women. However, this review highlights important gaps, as lack of standardized methods in assessing lifestyle factors and lack of accurate information on menopause status, which should be addressed by future studies in order to understand the role of menopause on the association between lifestyle factors and cardiovascular events.

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