Q: I Have Heard That Alcohol is Good For Your Heart. Is This True?
Several studies have reported that moderate drinkers -- those who have one
or two drinks per day -- are less likely to develop heart disease
than people who do not drink any alcohol or who drink larger amounts. Small
amounts of alcohol may help protect against coronary heart
disease by raising levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and by reducing the risk of
blood clots in the coronary arteries.
If you are a nondrinker, you should not start drinking only to benefit
your heart. Protection against coronary heart disease may be
obtained through regular physical activity and a low-fat diet. And if you are
pregnant, planning to become pregnant, have been diagnosed
as alcoholic, or have any medical condition that could make alcohol use harmful,
you should not drink.
Even for those who can drink safely and choose to do so, moderation is the
key. Heavy drinking can actually increase the risk of heart
failure, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as cause many other medical
problems, such as liver cirrhosis.
(See also Alcohol Alert No. 16: Moderate Drinking.)
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