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Coronary Heart Disease and Alcohol: Can You Drink Your Way to a Healthier Heart?


Recent studies have shown that there exists an inverse relationship between coronary heart disease(CHD) and alcohol consumption. Separate studies have been done on men and women showing similar effects of alcohol consumption on CHD risks. Most studies agree that light to moderate drinkers have a decreased risk of CHD as compared to nondrinkers. However, there is some disagreement as to whether light or heavy drinkers benefit from a greater protective effect for CHD. Also, there is some conflict as to which alcoholic beverage(beer, wine, or distilled spirits) is more beneficial in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Results from recent studies suggest that all provide a protective effect, but different studies provide different alcoholic beverages as being the one with the greatest risk-reducing effects. The mechanism by which alcohol reduces CHD risk is not completely understood, but most studies agree that it is due to alcohol s effect on increasing high-density lipoproteins(HDLs) in the body. Also, some studies suggest that alcohol may also stimulate clot-dissolving factors and decrease platelet aggregation which lower the risk for coronary artery obstruction. Despite the agreement that alcohol may reduce CHD risk, the findings do not justify heavy drinking since large quantities of alcohol consumption are correlated to numerous health problems and diseases.

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