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Research Summary

Does Binge Drinking Affect Prognosis After Myocardial Infarction?

Although binge drinking may increase the risk of myocardial infarction (MI), its effect on prognosis after MI is unclear. To determine whether binge drinking after MI is associated with death, researchers studied 1919 patients who had been hospitalized with MI. At baseline, 250 subjects (almost all men) reported binge drinking* in the past year (median of once per week); 3% of these binge drinkers had evidence of alcohol abuse recorded in their medical records. During 4 years of follow-up, 318 subjects died.

  • Binge drinkers had a significantly higher risk of death than did nonbinge drinkers (hazard ratio [HR] 2.0) in analyses adjusted for potential confounders. Results were similar regardless of the amount of usual intake, number of binge episodes, or beverage type.
  • Light drinkers (consumed approximately <8 drinks per week) and heavier drinkers (>=8 drinks per week) who did not binge had a lower risk of death than did abstainers (HRs 0.8 and 0.6, respectively; P for trend=0.009). Light and heavier drinkers who binged did not have a lower risk.


This well-done study found that the risk of death among patients with MI was twice as high in binge drinkers than in nonbinge drinkers. It also showed that binge drinking, which was relatively common (occurring in approximately 25% of drinkers) and often unrecognized, completely negated any protective effect of moderate alcohol intake against mortality. These findings suggest that clinicians need to counsel both light and heavier drinkers who have had MI about the dangers of bingeing.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD
*>=3 drinks within 1–2 hours


Mukamal KJ, Maclure M, Muller JE, et al. Binge drinking and mortality after acute myocardial infarction. Circulation. 2005;112(25):3839–3845.