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Is Red Wine Good For You? A Cardiologist Explains The Link Between Red Wine And Heart Disease.
Is red wine good for my heart…or not? From wellness experts to media outlets, many talk about the health benefits of consuming red wine, claiming the heart benefits of it. But, science has shown us that alcohol consumption is detrimental to our health by increasing risks to particular diseases like coronary heart disease and liver disease. So, what's the verdict?Red wine may be cardioprotective because it contains some amount of resveratrol and antioxidants. Resveratrol, a natural phenol, can lower blood pressure and body fat. Also, red wine contains some anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic agents. Anti-thrombotic agents prevent blood clots. However, despite the possible health benefits that red wine may have, the amount of resveratrol, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic agents varies quite a lot between different red wine brands, and are not present in sufficient quantities to be considered health supplements. While red wine may have some cardioprotective components, studies have shown that many are drinking much more than recommended, and this has an increased mortality attributed to it. Currently, it is estimated that around 37 million US adults excessively intake alcohol, and binge drink an average of 7 drinks on an occasion. As a result, there is a higher mortality rate from excessive alcohol consumption with an estimated 95,000 deaths a year in the United States. (1)The idea that there may be health benefits from consuming red wine originates from an observation made about heart disease rates in France. Despite a relatively high consumption of saturated fat and use of cigarettes, there seemed to be a relatively low mortality rate of heart disease. This became known as the French Paradox (2). It was thought that the lower risk of heart disease was from the French people’s relatively high intake of red wine, which was thought to have some protective effects. There still is a lack of consensus on the validity of this theory, which became known as the French Paradox.There are several epidemiologic studies that look into the relationship between alcohol intake and heart disease and some have found that there may be some benefits associated with low to moderate alcohol intake. Studies have found that a J-shaped curve modeled the relationship between alcohol intake and heart disease. As suggested from its name, the curve follows a pattern in the shape of the letter J, dipping at the lowest point of the curve. This point is also known as a “sweet spot” where a light-moderate alcohol intake is associated with the lowest mortality rate (3). However, it is crucial to acknowledge that there has been no randomized controlled trial data that tests for red wine’s role in cardioprotection. So should you drink alcohol, and specifically red wine to protect your heart? In the context of a healthy diet, occasional moderate wine intake may be reasonable. “Moderate consumption” is very important here, and may be a lot less than most of us are used to. As defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 edition, one alcoholic drink consists of 14 grams (0.6 fl. oz) of pure alcohol with 5 fluid ounces of wine equivalent to one drink. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than 1 drink per day for a woman (4). It is also important to avoid binge drinking, which is defined as consuming 4 or more alcoholic drinks at a time for a woman (4). Binge drinking has many adverse effects on health and can be a sign of alcohol addiction. Do you enjoy a glass of wine or a great cocktail every now and then? Great, be sure to enjoy responsibly and drink in moderation. On the other hand, if you don’t particularly enjoy wine or other types of alcohol, there is no solid evidence you should start drinking for the prevention of heart disease. Also, remember that the possible heart benefits from alcohol consumption must be balanced out with other well-established health risks of alcohol consumption like liver disease and breast cancer in women. While occasional moderate wine intake is probably ok if it is something you enjoy, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise are the best practices for cardioprotection and good heart health. Sources:
4 min read
Women Heart Disease Symptoms
Heart disease is a catch-all term for several heart conditions including heart attack and coronary artery disease. In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women - far exceeding all cancers combined! Every year, heart disease is responsible for 1 in every 5 deaths in women (1). Symptoms of heart disease, particularly heart attack, can be different in women than men, and women are less likely to receive proper treatment for their heart conditions than men (2). As a result, it’s super important to be aware of the possible symptoms and risk factors. Here’s what you need to know.A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is a sudden loss of blood supply to the heart that can lead to death. It is usually caused by a clog in an artery that delivers blood to the heart. The main risk factors for heart attack are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking (4).Symptoms of heart attack can be different between men and women, with women sometimes having less classic or obvious symptoms. Women can and do have chest pain, but not always (3). Symptoms of women’s heart problems can include:Importantly, women sometimes experience atypical heart attack symptoms like fatigue and nausea that are not commonly recognized as concerns for a heart problem. Especially when chest pain is not always present, women may mistaken their symptoms as indigestion or a muscle ache. It is important to be aware of these unusual symptoms, especially in those who have risk factors for heart disease, in order to seek prompt medical care. Heart attacks are a life-threatening emergency where every second matters. Just as important as recognizing symptoms, understanding the risk factors for heart attack is crucial in order to prevent heart disease in the first place.As mentioned, the three most common risk factors for heart attack are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Just under half of Americans (47%) have at least one of these three risk factors (1).Genetics play a role as well, and many other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can put you at a higher risk for heart disease. These includeAlthough some factors are not within our control, there is a lot you can do to protect your heart health. Adopting healthy habits for exercising, eating right, getting high quality sleep, and avoiding smoking can significantly lower your risk of developing heart disease. Pregnancy-related complications can increase a woman’s risk for heart disease later in life.Pregnancy in all women places excess strain on the heart. Pregnancy causes a significant rise in blood flow and therefore extra work for the heart (5). Some women also experience temporary increases in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, known as gestational hypertension, as well as pregnancy-induced sugar problems, known as gestational diabetes, are pregnancy conditions that usually resolve soon after childbirth. However, many women do not realize that even though the symptoms have resolved, having these pregnancy complications increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes later in life (5). In addition, preterm birth and pregnancy loss is linked to a 2-fold increase in risk of heart disease, heart attack, and high blood pressure (6).Women who have experienced these pregnancy complications should be sure to alert their primary care doctor so they can take this into account when assessing their overall cardiovascular risk. Additionally, it becomes even more important to control all other risk factors in order to lower the risk of heart disease.Aside from pregnancy related complications, women also have other unique risk factors for heart disease. Premature menopause, in which menopause occurs before the age of 40, is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, and heart disease. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder that can cause infertility, and many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions such as lupus and psoriasis also increase the risk for heart disease (6).Furthermore, depression and mental health issues linked with chronic stress can affect the cardiovascular system, increasing risk of heart disease. Depression is two times more common in women than men and is a known risk factor for heart attack (6).Sources:
5 min read