As reported in the July 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, Maraldi's team collected data on nearly 2,500 adults without heart disease, aged 70 to 79. Half of this group never drank or only drank occasionally. During an average 5.6 years of follow-up, 397 of the participants died, and 383 suffered some kind of cardiac event, according to Health Day News
Alcohol may worsen some chronic diseases and the overall effect of drinking on survival is not clear. However, several studies have shown that alcohol may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and heart failure and contribute to a lower death rate. Researchers have suspected that the mechanism linking alcohol to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease may be related to inflammation.
Cinzia Maraldi, M.D., of the Institute on Aging, University of Florida, Gainesville, and colleagues investigated the relationship between alcohol, death and cardiac events in 2,487 adults without heart disease age 70 to 79 years. Participants were recruited between April 1997 and June 1998 and answered questions about disease diagnoses, medication use and drinking habits during an initial interview.
They were classified based on how many drinks they consumed in a typical week over the past year; the categories were former; never or occasional; light to moderate; and heavier. During the study, each individual was contacted by telephone every six months and had a clinical assessment every year, Science Daily reports.
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