Relationship Between Alcohol Consumption and Cardiac Structure and Function in the Elderly: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study


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Abstract

Background—Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with cardiomyopathy, but the influence of moderate alcohol use on cardiac structure and function is largely unknown.Methods and Results—We studied 4466 participants from visit 5 of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study (76±5 years and 60% women) who underwent transthoracic echocardiography, excluding former drinkers and those with significant valvular disease. Participants were classified into 4 categories based on self-reported alcohol intake: nondrinkers, drinkers of ≤7, ≥7 to 14, and ≥14 drinks per week. We related alcohol intake to measures of cardiac structure and function, stratified by sex, and fully adjusted for covariates. In both genders, increasing alcohol intake was associated with larger left ventricular diastolic and systolic diameters and larger left atrial diameter (P<0.05). In men, increasing alcohol intake was associated with greater left ventricular mass (8.2±3.8 g per consumption category; P=0.029) and higher E/E′ ratio (0.82±0.33 per consumption category; P=0.014). In women, increasing alcohol intake was associated with lower left ventricular ejection fraction (−1.9±0.6% per consumption category; P=0.002) and a tendency for worse left ventricular global longitudinal strain (0.45±0.25% per consumption category; P=0.07).Conclusions—In an elderly community-based population, increasing alcohol intake is associated with subtle alterations in cardiac structure and function, with women appearing more susceptible than men to the cardiotoxic effects of alcohol.

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