Alcohol Consumption and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: Placing New Data in Context

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2022 Jan;24(1):51-59. doi: 10.1007/s11883-022-00992-1. Epub 2022 Feb 7.


Purpose of review: A clear link between excessive alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been established, but no consensus exists on the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on CVD.

Recent findings: A lower risk of coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction among moderate drinkers compared to abstainers has been consistently observed in epidemiological studies and meta-analyses of these studies. However, ambiguity remains on the effect of alcohol on other CVDs and all-cause mortality. Short-term randomized controlled trials (RCT) have identified potentially beneficial effects of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular risk factors, but studies investigating genetic polymorphisms that influence alcohol consumption (i.e., Mendelian randomization) have yielded inconclusive results. To date, a long-term RCT providing causal evidence is lacking but urgently needed. Triangulation of evidence from different study designs, including long-term RCTs, pragmatic trials and the evaluation of policy measures, combined will lead to the best available evidence.

Keywords: Alcohol consumption; Cardiovascular disease; Moderate drinking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Consensus
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction* / complications
  • Risk Factors