Studies carried out by the University of Cambridge and University College London have established a link between moderate consumption of alcohol and a reduced risk of developing some forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The research looked into the association between drinking alcohol and 12 CVDs by analysing the health records of 1.93 million healthy adults in the UK. All those participating in the project were free from CVDs at the beginning of the study, with non-drinkers separated from occasional and former drinkers for added clarity.
Once certain factors were accounted for, it was found that moderate drinking – defined as no more than 14 units of alcohol a week – was associated with a lower risk of some but not all CVD conditions, including heart failure, ischaemic stroke and angina, when compared to alcohol abstinence.
However, heavy drinking and exceeding the recommended limits was linked to an elevated risk of numerous CVDs, including cardiac arrest and heart failure.
Dr Steven Bell of the University of Cambridge said: “This doesn’t mean that it is advisable for individuals to take up drinking as a means of lowering their cardiovascular risk. Alcohol consumption is associated with other diseases, such as liver disease and certain types of cancer. There are other, safer and more effective ways, such as being more physically active, maintaining a healthy diet and stopping smoking.
“Ultimately an individual’s decision to drink, and at what level, should not be considered in isolation of other health behaviours or risk factors and instead be motivated by their own personal circumstances.”
Aside from monitoring how much alcohol you’re consuming, there are lots of small steps you can take to help protect your heart health and ensure that potential heart-related complications now or when you’re older are kept at bay. Increasing the amount you exercise is certainly advisable, so if you don’t do anything to keep fit why don’t you start off slowly by going for a short walk each day and gradually increasing it? Once you feel like your fitness levels have improved, you can then join a gym.
Diet also has a big part to play in ensuring that your heart remains healthy for as long as possible. Perhaps make use of an app like My Fitness Pal, which allows you to log your food so you can spot patterns in your eating and make healthier choices about what you put in your body. More fruit and veg will never hurt, and if you don’t eat breakfast now might be a good time to start.
Quitting smoking would also be wise, since this is actually one of the biggest causes of coronary heart disease. NHS figures state that after just one year of quitting, your risk of suffering a heart attack is about half that of someone who smokes.
For AED training and further advice, get in touch with us at Martek today.