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Wine drinking is associated with increased heart rate variability in women with coronary heart disease
  1. I Janszky1,
  2. M Ericson2,
  3. M Blom1,
  4. A Georgiades1,
  5. J-O Magnusson3,
  6. H Alinagizadeh1,
  7. S Ahnve1
  1. 1Preventive Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, and Centre of Public Health, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Industrial Economics, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
  3. 3Department of Cardiology, St Göran’s Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Staffan Ahnve
    Preventive Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Norrbacka, 6th floor, Karolinska Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden;


Objective: To test the hypothesis that alcohol consumption is positively related to heart rate variability (HRV) in women with coronary heart disease (CHD) and therefore that cardiac autonomic activity is potentially implicated in the mediation of the favourable effects of moderate drinking.

Design, settings, and patients: Cross sectional study of female patients who survived hospitalisation for acute myocardial infarction or underwent a revascularisation procedure, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, or coronary artery bypass grafting.

Main outcome measures: Ambulatory 24 hour ECG was recorded during normal activities. The mean of the standard deviations of all normal to normal intervals for all five minute segments of the entire recording (SDNNI) and the following frequency domain parameters were assessed: total power, high frequency power, low frequency power, and very low frequency power. A standardised questionnaire evaluated self reported consumption of individual alcoholic beverage types: beer, wine, and spirits. Other clinical characteristics, such as age, body mass index, smoking habits, history of diabetes mellitus, menopausal status, educational status, and treatment, were also assessed.

Results: Wine intake was associated with increased HRV in both time and frequency domains independently of other clinical covariates (for example, ln SDNNI was 3.89 among wine drinkers v 3.59 among wine non-drinkers in the multivariate model; p  =  0.014). In contrast, consumption of beer and spirits and the total amount of alcohol consumed did not relate significantly to any of the HRV parameters.

Conclusion: Intake of wine, but not of spirits or beer, is positively and independently associated with HRV in women with CHD. These results may contribute to the understanding of the complex relation between alcohol consumption and CHD.

  • AMI, acute myocardial infarction
  • CABG, coronary artery bypass grafting
  • CHD, coronary heart disease
  • HRV, heart rate variability
  • PTCA, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty
  • SDNNI, mean of the standard deviations of all normal to normal intervals for all five minute segments of the entire recording
  • coronary heart disease
  • heart rate variability
  • alcohol
  • women

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