Dr. Alexandra Goncalves, researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and one of the experts who conducted the study, explained that in elderly people, moderate drinking is often associated with changes in the heart’s structure and function.
Women appear to be more susceptible to the harmful effects of alcohol, compared to men.
The researchers analyzed more than 4,400 adult participants, the average age being 76.
According to the study’s findings, women who drank one alcoholic drink daily were experiencing small reduction in the function of their heart.
Scientists found that men who consumed more than 14 alcoholic drinks weekly, which the experts call “heavy drinking”, experienced changes in the wall of the heart’s left ventricle. The study showed that the alcohol enlarged the wall of the ventricle.
However, the scientists said that the association suggested by the study is not a cause-and-effect link.
One researcher, expert in cardiovascular conditions, said the findings of the new study were questionable, especially since previous research has pointed out the benefits of moderate drinking in adults.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, expert in cardiology at the University of California, said that while heavy alcohol drinking is known to increase the risk of heart failure and heart disease, there are numerous studies which suggest that light and even moderate drinking can lower the risk of stroke and heart attack, as compared to those who did not drink any alcohol.
Dr. Fonarow said that these new findings, which link moderate alcohol consumption to changes in the heart, are in opposition with the results of other similar studies.
He added that further research is need in order to determine whether moderate drinking is harmful, or on the contrary, is beneficial for the heart’s health.
According to the recommendations of the American Heart Association, moderate drinking is permitted. This means that men should not drink more than 1-2 drinks per day and women should not drink more than one.
However, the Association warns against starting to drink alcohol in order to improve the heart’s condition.
Dr. Fonarow explained that one drink means 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof spirits, or 1 ounce of 100 proof spirits.
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