(ABC4 Utah) A new study by researchers at Intermountain Healthcare finds that drinking alcohol does not provide additional cardiac benefits to cardiology patients already treated with statins – the most commonly used cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Previously, some observational studies have linked the consumption of alcohol, such as red wine, to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. However, the new Intermountain study failed to show any additional benefit for patients taking statins to control their cholesterol.
“Recommending alcohol for heart health is a controversial topic, although previous observational studies have suggested benefits,” said Jeffrey L. Anderson, cardiologist at Intermountain Healthcare and principal investigator of the study. “However, more recent reports have called this into question.”
In the Intermountain study, researchers looked at how alcohol affected specific groups of heart patients, including those with no known heart disease (primary prevention group) and those with known heart disease (secondary prevention group) , and those taking and not taking statins in these two groups.
“While we saw some heart-protective benefits for our patients who were not taking statins in the primary prevention group, we also found that it did not help patients taking statins in the primary prevention groups or secondary,” Dr. Anderson noted. .
The results of this retrospective population study were presented this week at the Scientific Sessions of the American College of Cardiology in Washington, D.C.
In the study, the researchers looked at Intermountain patients who underwent diagnostic coronary angiography to determine if they had coronary artery disease and, if so, whether they needed a stent or bypass. About a third had normal coronary arteries.
On admission, these patients were also asked if they consumed alcohol as part of a comprehensive survey of personal lifestyle and other health habits. Of the alcohol drinkers, 416 were taking statins and 164 were not. Of the non-drinkers, 313 were taking statins and 808 were not.
The Intermountain research team then looked at the number of patients in each category who experienced a major adverse cardiac event (MACE), such as a heart attack or stroke, over the next four years.
Researchers found that primary prevention patients who drank alcohol and did not take statins had lower rates of major adverse cardiac events than patients who did not take statins and did not drink.
However, in primary prevention patients already on a statin, they found no difference in MACE and death rates whether they drank or not. In the secondary prevention group, alcohol did not reduce the risk of MACE whether these patients were taking a statin or not.
These findings are important, Dr. Anderson said, because of the conflicting views on alcohol use, particularly in light of higher rates of alcohol abuse during the COVID pandemic, and the recent World Health Organization position statement that all alcohol consumption is unhealthy. .
He also finds support in an ongoing study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which suggests that the supposed benefits of alcohol consumption may be explained by other risk factors. healthy lifestyle that are common among light to moderate drinkers (Open JAMA Network).
Dr. Anderson added that larger, more in-depth studies, such as those from Harvard and MIT, will further clarify the possible links between alcohol consumption, the amount and type of alcohol consumption and heart health.
“As physicians, we struggle to know what to tell our patients about alcohol consumption in light of these new findings, especially since we know that higher levels of consumption pose negative risks for cascading health,” Dr. Anderson noted. “If confirmed further, our findings could help us in our recommendations to patients about their personal drinking choices as well as informing professional medical society recommendations on alcohol consumption and heart health. “
Other members of the Intermountain the research team includes: Viet T Le, PA-C; Tami Bair, BS; Joseph B Muhlestein, MD; Kirk U Knowlton, MD; and Benjamin D Horne, PhD.