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Alcohol and Heart Disease

2002 Edition, February 14, 2002

Complete Document

Detail Summary

Active, Most Current

Additional Comments:
ISBN: 978-0-415-27347-3
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Product Details:

  • Revision: 2002 Edition, February 14, 2002
  • Published Date: February 14, 2002
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: CRC Press (CRC)
  • Page Count: 280
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:


Alcohol research is in a golden era. With advances in molecular biology, the degree to which genetic makeup predetermines susceptibility to alcohol abuse and alcoholism is being defined. With more powerful tools for data collection and analysis and increased funding in this area, the epidemiology of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related health issues is being better elucidated. With the blossoming of the field of neuroscience, neural mechanisms underlying alcohol addiction and appetitive behavior are being discovered. The importance of this expanding knowledge is underscored by the fact that alcohol is one of the most widely used and abused drugs in most civilizations, and the health costs of alcohol are so great that among drugs of abuse, they are rivaled only by those of tobacco.

Of course, the consideration of alcohol use and abuse presents special problems. Humankind has had a complex relationship with alcohol from the beginning of recorded history. In most societies, some level of alcohol consumption is acceptable, and social and religious rites often incorporate drinking. That alcohol has both detrimental and beneficial effects has always been appreciated. Along with some of the obvious negative effects of intoxication and chronic use, the preservative, antiseptic and anesthetic effects of alcohol, for example, have been known since ancient times. With the flourishing of alcohol research, both the negative and positive aspects are being better defined, but alcohol is a true double-edged sword. Its use in medicine has been invaluable over the centuries, but few health care practitioners today would recommend that a non-drinker take up alcohol consumption for health purposes.

Effects of alcohol on the heart and cardiovascular system follow the same paradigm: its chronic abuse is clearly associated with negative effects, such as hypertension, heart failure, bleeding disorders, atrial fibrillation and stroke. At the same time, it has long been suspected that moderate consumption might be of benefit to cardiovascular health, and in fact, recent, large scale epidemiological studies demonstrate that used in moderation, it might protect against morbidity and mortality associated with coronary artery disease and perhaps thrombotic strokes. Obviously, with coronary artery disease being the most prevalent cause of death in most Western societies, and with stroke also being high on that list, understanding how alcohol affects the heart and blood vessels is an important goal. As alcohol research has gathered steam in recent years, so too has research related to alcohol consumption and cardiovascular health and disease.

It is against this background that this volume was conceived and prepared. In it, leading scientists from across the world and from a broad set of scientific disciplines present the state of knowledge on alcohol and heart disease as well as related background material. The recent advances in the epidemiology of heart disease and drinking are considered, as are the multiple mechanisms underlying the negative effects of drinking on cardiovascular health. Interaction of alcohol with other drugs affecting the heart and circulation is a medically important area that is also discussed. From the public's perspective, one of the most interesting outcomes of alcohol research has been the demonstration that moderate alcoholic beverage consumption may protect against coronary artery disease and associated mortality. Specific components of certain beverages, notably red wine, might have their own beneficial effects, as might ethanol itself. This intriguing area is dealt with in a number of chapters, from a number of perspectives. It is our hope that this volume highlights the excellent work being done in these fascinating areas and serves to stimulate further research into important, related public health questions.