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Research Summary

Moderate or Higher Alcohol Intake: Increased Risk of Coronary Artery Disease in Men Presenting with Chest Pain or Abnormal ECG

A sample of Chinese men aged 36–84 years (N=1476) who presented sequentially for cardiac angiography due to chest pain or abnormal electrocardiograms (ECG) were evaluated for obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) lesions according to their reported alcohol intake. Consumption categories included nondrinker (<1 drink per week), light drinker (1–6 drinks per week), moderate drinker (7–13 drinks per week), and heavy drinker (>13 drinks per week).

Adjusted* odds ratios (AORs) for angiographically confirmed CAD among light, moderate, and heavy drinkers were 1.16 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68–1.94), 1.78 (95% CI, 1.35–2.27), and 2.18 (95% CI, 1.46–3.25), respectively.

Compared with nondrinkers, AORs were 1.03 for those who had been drinking 0–15 years, 1.61 for those drinking 16–30 years, and 1.98 for those drinking >30 years.

*Analyses were adjusted for age, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, smoking, and physical activity. Duration ORs were not adjusted for quantity and/or frequency, nor were quantity/frequency adjusted for duration.

Comments:

Although the authors concluded that moderate-to-heavy alcohol consumption and longer duration of drinking increases the risk of CAD in Chinese men, this study was based on a selected group of patients: those with chest pain or ECG changes. Other large population-based studies from China have shown that consumers of alcohol are less likely to develop coronary disease, results similar to those in most Western populations. Results do suggest, however, that even moderate drinking may increase the likelihood of coronary obstruction. The most important outcome regarding CAD is whether an association exists between alcohol and clinical events (e.g., myocardial infarction, cardiac death), which will require long-term follow-up studies. R. Curtis Ellison, MD

Reference:

Zhou X, Li C, Xu W, et al. Relation of alcohol consumption to angiographically proved coronary artery disease in Chinese men. Am J Cardiol. 2010;106(8):1101–1103.

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