Introduction: Alcohol intake is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), with moderate drinkers having a decreased CVD risk compared to non- and heavy drinkers. However, this association is yet to be examined using the AHA Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) metrics as a proxy for cardiovascular health (CVH). We explored associations between alcohol intake and CVH in a multi-ethnic population.
Methods: Our cross-sectional analyses included 6,506 MESA participants, free of CVD, aged 45 to 84 years. The LS7 metrics (smoking, physical activity, body mass index, diet, blood pressure, total cholesterol and blood glucose) were each scored 0-2, with 2 indicating “ideal”, 1 “intermediate” and 0 “poor”. Total LS7 score ranged from 0-14. Alcohol data was obtained from personal history and food frequency questionnaires. Participants were classified as never, former or current drinkers. Current drinkers were categorized as <1 (light), 1-2 (moderate) and >2 (heavy) drinks/day. Multinomial logistic regression models assessed associations between alcohol intake and CVH, adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income and health insurance.
Results: Mean (SD) age was 62 (10) years, 53% were women; 20% were never, 24% former and 56% current drinkers. Among current drinkers, 44% had <1, 9% 1-2 and 3% >2 drinks/day. Additionally, 47% had inadequate LS7 scores, 33% average and 20% optimal. Compared to never drinkers, those who drank <1 drink/day were more likely to have average and optimal scores, although most of the associations were not significant. Women with 1-2 drinks/day were more likely than men to have optimal scores. Overall and in men, those who drank >2 drinks/day were less likely to have average or optimal scores. Whites and Hispanics with >2 drinks/day were less likely to have optimal and average scores, respectively (Table).
Conclusion: Light alcohol intake tended to show favorable CVH, whereas heavy alcohol intake was unfavorable. For moderate alcohol intake, the associations with CVH varied by sex and race/ethnicity.