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Study Shows Heart Risks Associated with Excessive Alcohol Consumption, Especially Binge Drinking

New research highlights the significant heart risks linked to consuming more than one alcoholic drink per day, with binge drinking posing particular dangers, especially for women, according to a study led by Dr. Jamal Rana, a cardiologist with the Permanente Medical Group in Oakland, Calif.

The study, to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's (ACC) annual meeting in Atlanta, drew on data from over 430,000 adults aged 65 and under in California. Dr. Rana and his team observed consistently elevated heart disease risks associated with excessive alcohol intake, regardless of gender. However, they noted a particularly concerning trend among women, even without binge drinking.

Surprisingly, women in the lower age group showed increased heart disease risk, defying the expectation that heart risks typically rise among older women. The study's findings challenge common assumptions about heart health and alcohol consumption, underscoring the need for increased awareness among both healthcare professionals and the public.

The research tracked the heart health of nearly 243,000 men and 189,000 women who were part of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health organization. None of the participants had a history of heart disease at the study's outset.

Participants were categorized based on their alcohol consumption: low intake (one to two drinks per week for both men and women), moderate intake (three to 14 drinks per week for men and three to seven drinks per week for women), or high intake (15 or more drinks per week for men and eight or more drinks per week for women). The study also assessed binge drinking history, defined as consuming more than four drinks for men or more than three drinks for women in a single day within the past three months.

Over the four-year follow-up period, more than 3,100 participants developed heart disease. The study revealed a clear correlation between alcohol consumption and heart disease risk, with higher levels of alcohol intake associated with increased odds of developing heart disease.

Women, especially those in the high alcohol consumption category and binge drinkers, faced significantly elevated heart disease risks compared to their male counterparts. The study's findings emphasize the importance of recognizing alcohol intake as a vital sign for assessing heart health and call for increased awareness and routine screening for alcohol-related heart risks in healthcare settings.

Dr. Rana stressed the need for broader awareness and inclusion of alcohol consumption in routine health assessments, highlighting the importance of addressing this often-overlooked risk factor for heart disease.

While further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms underlying alcohol's impact on heart health, the study's findings underscore the importance of moderation in alcohol consumption, especially among women, to mitigate heart disease risk.

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