Moderate Alcohol Intake May Reduce Cardiovascular Events Through Stress Reduction Interview with:

Kenechukwu Ndubisi Mezue, M.D Fellow in Nuclear Cardiology  Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Mezue

Kenechukwu Ndubisi Mezue, M.D
Fellow in Nuclear Cardiology 
Massachusetts General Hospital What is the background for this study?

Response: Observational studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease. However, the mechanisms through which this benefit occurs is mostly unknown. Chronic stress is also known to associate with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and our group has shown in previous work that increased activity in the stress-associated regions of the brain (such as the amygdala) is significantly associated with increased bone marrow activity, arterial inflammation, and cardiovascular events.

Our current study hypothesizes that moderate alcohol intake reduces cardiovascular events by reducing chronic stress-associated brain activity. What are the main findings? 

Response: Our results are as follows: People who reported moderate alcohol intake were found to have a significantly 20% lower chance of having a major adverse cardiac event (MACE) compared to low alcohol intake (in adjusted analysis that controlled for demographic variables, cardiovascular risk factors, socioeconomic variables, and psychological factors). Moderate alcohol intake was also associated with significantly decreased amygdalar activity compared to low or no alcohol intake. Mediation analysis showed that the indirect pathway linking alcohol intake to brain activity and subsequent MACE was significant. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our study does not intend to encourage alcohol use as alcohol intake in excess is associated with a lot of harm and even moderate alcohol intake is associated with increased cancer risk and dependence. However, we think that shining a light on this potential mechanism of reducing cardiovascular events can open doors to new therapeutics that can optimize stress reduction without the harmful effects of alcohol. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: It will be interesting for future studies to show that the observed reductions in brain activity are the direct result of moderate alcohol intake through repeated brain scans and more detailed alcohol intake assessments over time.

 Any disclosures?

I have no personal disclosures and this study has no sponsors. Thank you very much for your interest in our abstract and study.


ACC 21 abstract:

Alcohol’s Beneficial Effect on Cardiovascular Disease is Partially Medicated Through Modulation of Stress-Associated Brain Activity



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Last Updated on May 9, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD