Harvard Researchers: Wine Really Does Help the Heart


A team of Harvard Medical School researchers released a study earlier this month in the European Heart Journal online edition in which they showed that middle aged men can reduce the risk of heart failure by drinking up to seven drinks per week.
“These findings suggest that drinking alcohol in moderation does not contribute to an increased risk of heart failure and may even be protective,” said Dr. Scott Solomon, a professor of medicine and researcher at Harvard Medical School. “No level of alcohol intake was associated with a higher risk of heart failure. However, heavy alcohol use is certainly a risk factor for deaths from any cause.”
According to a press release by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), the study followed nearly 15,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 64. The researchers began following the group between 1987 and 1989 and concluded their observation in 2011. 
Their research showed that “drinking up to seven drinks a week in early to middle age is associated with a 20% lower risk of men developing heart failure in the future when compared to people who did not drink at all,” the ESC release said.
The research also showed that moderate drinking presented a “more modest 16% reduced risk for women.”
According to the ESC release, the study divided the people in six categories of drinking frequency. The moderate group – up to seven drinks a week – showed the best results.
One drink, according to the study, contained 14 grams of alcohol, which equates to a small glass of wine, about half a pint of beer and a little less than one shot of liquor. 
One-fourth of the participants fell into the “moderate drinking” category, while 42 percent were didn't drink during the study and 19 percent were former drinkers.
The relevance of the study is linked to the widespread influence of heart disease in the United States, the study said. 
“Heart failure is a major public health problem with over 23 million people living with it worldwide,” the ESC release said.
The Harvard study noted that while moderate drinking did not increase the risk of heart disease, heavy drinking increases the risk of heart disease as well as other ailments.
Health website Medical Daily described the process by which heavy drinking affects the heart.
“Excessive drinking begins to weaken the heart muscles over time,” the site said in a story about the Harvard Study. “This leads to problems in the way blood flows through the body, and changes the very shape of the heart muscle as it stretches and becomes thin.”

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