In December 2018 researchers from the USA published the results of their study to assess whether alcohol use is associated with increased survival amongst older individuals with heart failure. A total of 5,888 adults, aged 65 years and over, were involved in the study. Information was collected on alcohol consumption and the individuals divided into four groups, namely abstainers (never drinkers), former drinkers, 7 or fewer alcoholic drinks per week, and more than 7 drinks per week. During a follow-up period of 9 years, 393 individuals (213 female, 339 white, average age 79 years) were diagnosed with heart failure. A total of 129 individuals reported consuming alcohol following their diagnosis. Results showed that after controlling for confounders, eg gender, educational level, diabetes, etc, consumption of 7 or fewer alcoholic drinks per week was associated with an added average survival of 383 days when compared with never drinkers. Although the robustness of the findings was limited by the small number of individuals who consumed more than 7 drinks per week, a significant U-shaped association between alcohol consumption and survival was noted. The average time from heart failure diagnosis to death was 2,640 days for never drinkers, 3046 days 1-7 drinks per week, and 2806 days for consumers of more than 7 drinks per week. It was however noted that the consumption of 10 drinks per week was associated with the longest survival, with an average of 3381 days following heart failure diagnosis. The researchers therefore concluded that limited alcohol consumption among older adults with a diagnosis of heart failure is associated with a longer survival time when compared with long-term abstinence.
Sadhu JS et al. Association of Alcohol Consumption After Development of Heart Failure With Survival Among Older Adults in the Cardiovascular Health Study. JAMA Netw Open. 2018 Dec 7;1(8):e186383.