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In the beginning of the XX century, some researchers already observed that coronary diseases seemed to occur with less frequency in individuals that consumed alcohol than in abstemious individuals1. In the last 30 years, scientific studies indicated that the moderate use of alcohol actually reduced the occurrence of coronary diseases, miocardic stroke1,2,5. Such results lead to a series of investigations to discover if alcohol was in fact the responsible element in the prevention of hearth problems or the small number of heart problems was related to the individual life style, especially related to the diet and physical excercises.1 Today, we know that the consumption of one to fourclass daily doses of alcohol may significantly reduce the risk of coronary diseases3,4 and the consumption of five or more daily doses may increase its risks4,5. Using an analysis goal (systematic review of scientific literature combining studies to get to one single result), Rimm and other (1999) concluded that1:
The consumption of up to 30g/day (approximately), two daily doses of alcohol, increases in up to 4.0 mg/Dl (4 milligrams per deciliter) the level of cholesterol linked to High Density Proteins (HDL), considered to be the good cholesterol. HDL is responsible for the removal of the cholesterol connected to Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL), which prevents arteriosclerosis.
The consumption of up to approximately of 30g/day of alcohol decreases the levels of fibrogen in up to 7.5 mg/Dl. Fibrogen, which is associated to the process of coagulation and thrombosis, acts in the body by reducing the risk of coronary problems in up to 12.5%.
The consumption of up to about 30 g/day of alcohol increases the levels of tri-glicerides in up to 5.7%, which can be translated in a risk of up to 4.6% of coronary complications. However, when this index is considered together with the increase in the level of HDL cholesterol and decrease in the levels of fibrogen, there is still a 27.7% reduction in the risk of coronary disease.
About the harmful effects of alcohol, Walsh and others (2002) in an epidemiological study5 concluded that high alcohol doses (5 or more doses/day) could lead to problems in the left heart ventricle. Problems in the left ventricle can take to the extensive cardiomyopathy4,6, In the United States, the excessive use of alcohol is the main factor the occurrence of cardiomyopathy. Although cardiomyopathy has several causes, including a genetic component, it is associated to more than 30% of the cases of alcoholism, typically occurring in men between 30 and 55 years old, who takes more than 5 doses of alcohol daily for more than 10 years4.
Abstinence or alcohol remission can improve cardiomyopathy ?
During 4 years, Nicolas, J.M et al (2002)6 6 monitored cardiomyopathic individuals who consumed 100 g of alcohol/daily for more than 10 years. This study intended to verify if the abstinence or remission of the daily alcohol consumption could lead to an improvement of disease charts. After the first year, all patients that stopped drinking shown a significative improvement of the left heart ventricle. The same occurred with the patients that diminished their consumption to 20-60 grams/daily. In contrast, there was a decay in the patients' left ventricle that continued consuming more than 80g of alcohol/daily. After 4 years of studies, the individuals that stopped drinking as the ones that continued drinking moderately continued to present improvements in the left ventricle functions, and 10 patients that continued drinking more than 80g a day died during the study.