Background: Moderate alcohol consumption is known to be protective against coronary heart disease (CHD). However, the INTERHEART study, a case-control study of acute myocardial infarction (MI) patients, revealed that alcohol consumption in South Asians was not protective against CHD. We therefore planned to study cardiovascular risk factor and CHD prevalence among male alcohol users as compared to age matched lifetime abstainers.
Methods: The subjects for this study were recruited from a cross-sectional survey carried out among employees and their family members aged 20-69 years in 10 medium-to-large industries from diverse sites in India, using a stratified random sampling technique. Information on education, behavioral, clinical and biochemical risk factors of CHD and alcohol use was obtained through standardized instruments. CHD diagnosis was based on Rose Questionnaire or a prior physician diagnosed CHD.
Results: A total of 4465 subjects were present or past alcohol users. The mean age of alcohol users and lifetime abstainers was 42.8+/-11.0 years and 42.8+/-11.1 years, respectively (p=0.90). Systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure were significantly higher in alcohol users (128.7+/-17.6 mmHg/80.1+/-11.3 mmHg) as compared to lifetime abstainers (126.9+/-15.9 mmHg/79.5+/-10.3 mmHg, p<0.01). Fasting blood sugar in alcohol users (98.7+/-30.5 mg%) was also significantly higher than lifetime abstainers (96.6+/-26.0 mg%, p<0.01). Total cholesterol was lower in alcohol users (179.1+/-41.1 mg%) as compared to lifetime abstainers (182.7+/-38.2 mg%, p<0.01). HDL cholesterol was higher in alcohol users (42.9+/-10.8 mg%) as compared to lifetime abstainers (41.3+/-10.0 mg%, p<0.01). Body mass index (BMI) was lower in alcohol users as compared to lifetime abstainers (22.7+/-4.1 kg/m2 vs. 24.0+/-3.3 kg/m2, p<0.001). Tobacco use was significantly higher in alcohol users (63.1% vs. 20.7%). The odds ratio (OR) of having CHD after adjusting for tobacco use, BMI and education was 1.4 (95%CI 1.0-1.9) in alcohol users as compared to controls. The OR was 1.2 (95%CI 0.8-1.6) in occasional alcohol users, 1.6 (95%CI 1.0-2.2) in regular alcohol users and 2.1 (95% CI 1.1-3.0) in past alcohol users as compared to controls.
Conclusion: We did not observe an inverse (protective) association between alcohol intake and the prevalence of CHD. In contrast, our study indicated an association in the reverse direction, suggesting possible harm of alcohol for coronary risk in Indian men. This relationship needs to be further examined in large, prospective study.
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