Drinking alcohol heavily and having diabetes carry similar risks of heart disease, new research suggests.
The research highlights the importance for people with diabetes to keep alcohol consumption moderate to keep heart disease at bay.
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in people with diabetes, but the risk can be reduced by controlling blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
This new study conducted by the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) shows that alcohol abuse, diabetes, obesity and smoking carry similar heart risks.
Senior author Dr Gregory Marcus, a UCSF health cardiologist and director of clinical research in the UCSF Division of Cardiology, said: “While generally believed that alcohol is protective against heart attacks, these findings demonstrate that excessive alcohol consumption may actually substantially increase risk.”
The research team studied health data recorded from more than 14.7 million people in American, of which 1.8 per cent had been diagnosed with alcohol abuse.
The findings, which have been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), showed there was a twofold increased risk of suffering from an abnormal heart rhythm which is a condition called atrial fibrillation (AF).
The risk of suffering from a heart attack was increased by 1.4-fold and a 2.3-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure was also discovered.
Marcus said: “Alcohol in excess should not be considered cardio-protective but rather cardio-toxic, contributing to heightened risk for all three major, yet distinct, cardiac adverse outcomes.
“Treatment of alcohol abuse should be recognised as part of a preventive strategy in modifying the risk of cardiac disease.”
The researchers say that if greater efforts were made to treat people who have issues with alcohol then there may be a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease.

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