Background: Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). A suitably integrated view of the CHD pathogenesis pathway will help to elucidate how moderate alcohol consumption could reduce CHD risk.
Methods: A comprehensive literature review was conducted focusing on the pathogenesis of CHD. Biomarker data were further systematically analysed from 294 cohort studies, comprising 1 161 560 subjects. From the above a suitably integrated CHD pathogenetic system for the purpose of this study was developed.
Results: The resulting integrated system now provides insight into the integrated higher-order interactions underlying CHD and moderate alcohol consumption. A novel 'connection graph' further simplifies these interactions by illustrating the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and the relative risks (RR) attributed to various measureable CHD serological biomarkers. Thus, the possible reasons for the reduced RR for CHD with moderate alcohol consumption become clear at a glance.
Conclusions: An integrated high-level model of CHD, its pathogenesis, biomarkers, and moderate alcohol consumption provides a summary of the evidence that a causal relationship between CHD risk and moderate alcohol consumption may exist. It also shows the importance of each CHD pathway that moderate alcohol consumption influences.