Health, Effects of Wine Consumption on: Coronary heart disease

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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The most beneficial effect of wine is its contribution to reduced mortality from coronary heart disease, the western world’s major killer. This develops when plaques of cholesterol build up in the arteries supplying the heart muscle. These furred-up arteries cannot supply the heart muscle with enough oxygen, resulting in the pain of angina. Heart attacks happen when blood clots block these narrowed arteries completely, cutting off the oxygen supply. Heavy drinkers develop increased cholesterol levels as well as raised blood pressure, weakened heart muscle, and a susceptibility to potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms. Given this record, it was not just the temperance movement which believed that moderate consumption must surely be doing some harm. Yet there is now a mass of evidence that those who drink moderately are less likely to develop coronary heart disease and to die from it than either those who drink heavily or those who have never drunk alcohol. Furthermore, it is the alcohol in alcoholic drinks which has been identified as the single most important ingredient in prevention of coronary heart disease.