Lower heart attack risk people with diabetes who drink wine in moderation

People with type 2 diabetes who drink wine in moderation have a dramatically lower risk of heart attacks and death, researchers have found in a huge global study that was carried out in 20 countries including India. Heavy drinking, however cancelled out any benefits.

Senior author Associate Professor Graham Hillis, of The George Institute for Global Health and The University of Sydney, said the study provides evidence that people with type 2 diabetes who drink wine in moderation have a lower risk of heart attack compared to those who do not drink alcohol at all.

He cautioned, however, that this study does not establish that drinking alcohol lowers the risk of heart attack, just that those who drink alcohol have a lower risk.

According to the latest estimates from the International Diabetes Federation, India has 61.3 million people affected by diabetes. In another 20 years, this will grow to 101.2 million and one fifth of the world’s diabetic population will be in India.

"The incidence of heart attacks in these patients has increased to the point that about two in every three patients with the condition will die due to cardiovascular disease," said Associate Professor. Hillis.

Compared to abstainers, any alcohol use was associated with a 17 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular events, a 15 per cent lower risk of microvascular complications, and a 13 per cent lower risk of death from all causes.

When alcohol use was evaluated by type of beverage, the figures were even more striking. Those who said they mainly drank wine had a 22 per cent lower risk of heart attacks, and a 23 per cent lower risk of death from any cause compared to abstainers.

“This study finds no grounds to discourage mild to moderate alcohol consumption, at least in terms of its effects on heart attack risk,” said Associate Professor Hillis.

He warned that potential benefits of drinking wine should be weighed against the potential detrimental effects of alcohol, such as increased risk of hypoglycemia, liver-related complications and increased incidence of certain cancers.

“This study extends the currently available evidence that moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of heart attacks to people with diabetes. But it does not mean that people with diabetes should start drinking alcohol if they are teetotalers now. And more importantly those people with diabetes who drink alcohol should moderate it as excess alcohol consumption is associated with a large number of health risks. It is important that one should be able to balance the benefits and risks associated with alcohol consumption.”


Dr Rama K Guggilla, Research Fellow
The George Institute for Global Health, India

The study, the largest to look at the issue in the world, surveyed 11,140 patients aged over 50 in 20 countries, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after the age of 30. It was published in the international medical journal Diabetes Care, and was led by researchers from The George Institute.

It backs up previous studies on the wider population that show red wine is associated with the reduction of heart attack risk for everyone.