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Alcohol intake and mortality in middle aged men with diagnosed coronary heart disease
  1. A G Shaper,
  2. S G Wannamethee
  1. Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical Schools, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK
  1. Professor Shaper e-mail: agshaper{at}


OBJECTIVE To examine the effects of alcohol on risk of mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD), cardiovascular disease, and all causes in men with established CHD.

METHODS AND RESULTS In a population based prospective study of 7169 men aged 45–64 years followed for a mean of 12.8 years, 655 men (9.1%) had a physician diagnosis of CHD (myocardial infarction 455, angina only 200). In these 655 men, there were 294 deaths from all causes including 175 CHD deaths. Ex-drinkers had the highest risk of CHD, cardiovascular mortality, and all cause mortality even after adjustment for lifestyle characteristics and pre-existing disease. Using occasional drinkers as the reference group, lifelong teetotallers, occasional drinkers, and light drinkers all showed similar risks of mortality from CHD, cardiovascular disease, and all causes. Moderate/heavy drinkers showed increased risk of mortality from CHD, cardiovascular disease, and all causes compared to occasional drinkers. The adverse effect of moderate/heavy drinking was confined to the 455 men with previous myocardial infarction (adjusted relative risk for all cause mortality 1.50, 95% confidence interval 1.01 to 2.23). In contrast to lighter drinking, giving up smoking within five years of the start of follow up was associated with a considerable reduction in risk of all cause and cardiovascular mortality compared to those who continued to smoke.

CONCLUSION Compared to occasional drinking, regular light alcohol consumption (1–14 units per week) in men with established coronary heart disease is not associated with any significant benefit or deleterious effect for CHD, cardiovascular disease or all cause mortality. Higher levels of intake (⩾ 3 drinks per day) are associated with increased mortality in men with previous myocardial infarction. In contrast, smoking cessation in men with established CHD substantially reduces the risk of mortality.

  • coronary heart disease
  • alcohol consumption
  • mortality risk
  • smoking cessation

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