Heart Disease :: Wine, not beer, helps women’s hearts

Swedish researchers reported drinking wine, but not beer or other alcoholic beverages, helps keep a woman’s heart healthy.

The study, published in the British medical journal Heart, focused on women because much of the research done on the health benefits of alcohol has been on men. It also still is not clear exactly why moderate amounts of wine seem to be good for the heart, noted the researchers from the Karolinska Institute.

The team included 102 women, under age 75, in their study. All had survived a heart attack or heart surgery for blocked arteries. They were asked to record their alcohol intake for one week. Heart studies were done to determine heart rate variability or HRV. Decreased variability is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and death.

HRV was highest in women who drank 5 grams or more of alcohol a day and lowest in those women who drank no alcohol at all.

HRV was highest among women who drank wine, even after taking account of other influential factors, such as age, weight and smoking habit. Beer and spirits had little impact on HRV.