Researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany report that alcohol cut the risk of restenosis, or re-narrowing of the treated artery, in patients who had experienced surgery to open up a blocked artery.
While moderate drinking is widely believe to offer some protection for the heart, this study suggests that alcohol might protect the heart after it has been damaged and repaired.
"Patients who consumed 50 g alcohol a week had a lower mean late loss of the luminal diameter and a lower rate of coronary restenosis within the stented segment as well as a lower rate of repeat angioplasty," report the scientists in the October issue of Heart.
The UN-backed World Health Organisation estimates that 16.7 million - or 29.2 per cent of total global deaths - result from the various forms of cardiovascular disease, many of which are preventable by action on the major primary risk factors: unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and smoking.
In the 225 male study of patients who had undergone surgery to open up a blocked artery the scientists report that although baseline characteristics were similar for all the participants, "a higher prevalence of reduced cardiac function and multivessel disease and a lower high density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration among patients who consumed little or no alcohol".
Full findings are published in Heart, Oct 2004; 90: 1189 - 1193.