Introduction: Excessive alcohol consumption is an important risk factors for cardiovascular disease, however, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood.
Hypothesis: We assessed the hypothesis whether alcohol consumption is prospectively associated with unfavorable measures of cardiac structure and function.
Methods: We used data from the Hoorn Study, a population-based, prospective cohort study. Data on self-reported alcohol consumption were collected with a validated food frequency questionnaire in 2000/2001(baseline for the current analyses). Echocardiography was performed in 2000/2001 in 582 participants and in 2007/2009 in 339 participants. Participants were classified into 5 categories based on self-reported alcohol consumption (glasses per week): 0 (non-drinkers), 0- 3 (light-drinkers), ≥3-7 (light to moderate drinkers), ≥7-14 (moderate drinkers) and ≥14 (heavy drinkers). Light drinking was considered the reference group. We studied the association of alcohol consumption with echocardiographic measures after 8 years of follow-up using linear regression analyses, adjusting for potential confounders.
Results: The mean age was 69.8±6.5 years and 50% was female. After 7.4±0.5 years follow-up, moderate and heavy alcohol consumption were associated with a decreased left ventricular ejection fraction of -5.1% (-8.7, -1.4) for moderate and -4.8% (-8.8, -0.8) for heavy drinkers (Table). Heavy drinking was also associated with a decrease in left atrial volume index: -3.9mL/m2 (-7.6, -0.2). No longitudinal associations were found between alcohol consumption and left ventricular mass index.
Conclusion: Both moderate and heavy drinking were associated with decreased systolic function after 8 years follow-up. The toxic effect of alcohol could lead to underfilling of the left atrium which could lead to lower systolic function. These findings may explain the increased cardiovascular risk among people with excessive alcohol use.