Background: Intermittent claudication (IC) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. The relation of alcohol consumption to the risk of IC remains controversial. The purpose of this study was to assess the relation of alcohol consumption and type of beverage to the development of IC among participants in the Framingham Heart Study.
Methods and results: Alcohol consumption was categorized as 0, 1 to 6, 7 to 12, 13 to 24, and >/=25 g/d. During a mean follow-up of 6.8 years, 414 subjects developed IC. From the lowest to the highest category of alcohol intake, the age-standardized incidence rates of IC were 5.3, 4.1, 4.2, 3.2, and 4.6 cases/1000 person-years for men and 3.4, 2.5, 1.5, 1.9, and 2.5, respectively, for women. A multivariate Cox regression model demonstrated an inverse relation, with the lowest IC risk at levels of 13 to 24 g/d for men and 7 to 12 g/d for women compared with nondrinkers; the hazard ratio (95% CI) was 0.67 (0.42 to 0.99) for men and 0.44 (0.23 to 0.80) for women. This protective effect was seen mostly with wine and beer consumption.
Conclusions: Our data are consistent with a protective effect of moderate alcohol consumption on IC risk, with lowest risk observed in men consuming 13 to 24 g/d (1 to 2 drinks/d) and in women consuming 7 to 12 g/d (0.5 to 1 drink/d).