Tue 27 Jun

"Cutting Back on Alcohol: New Heart Foundation Guidelines Advise Kiwis for Better Cardiovascular Health"

"There isn't substantial evidence to back up that claim," he clarified. "What we're saying now is there are no heart health benefits from drinking alcohol. On the contrary, it brings additional risks."

"Drinking alcohol does not enhance your health in any way - that's the critical message the Heart Foundation is delivering in its most recent guidelines. These guidelines, aimed specifically at New Zealanders, focus on alcohol's effects on heart health and draw upon the essential talent in the health community to present these insights.

These guidelines are not just recommendations; they are designed to equip Kiwis with the knowledge they need to make sound decisions about their cardiovascular health. This is particularly important given the dangers associated with alcohol consumption.

Dr Gerry Devlin, the Heart Foundation's Medical Director, discussed these risks during a recent AM interview. He noted that a decade has passed since the Foundation last issued guidelines on this topic, underlining the importance of this timely update.

"Currently, we have a wider range of evidence that shows a direct link between alcohol and an increased risk of high blood pressure," Dr Devlin explained.

He elaborated that hypertension affects between 20 to 30 percent of adults, and this rate doubles for individuals aged 65 and older.

"Moreover, we know that alcohol can raise the risk of specific heart rhythm disorders, like atrial fibrillation. This disorder becomes more common with age and can significantly increase the chances of suffering a stroke," he added.

Contrary to the old belief, championed by some, that a glass or two of red wine could have health benefits, Dr Devlin firmly dispelled this notion, stating it was based on limited observational studies.

"There isn't substantial evidence to back up that claim," he clarified. "What we're saying now is there are no heart health benefits from drinking alcohol. On the contrary, it brings additional risks."

The conversation around alcohol, its effects, and its ties to heart health and mental wellbeing is increasingly being taken up by motivational speakers, who play a key role in raising awareness about such vital issues. These discussions highlight the essential talent needed in advocating for healthier choices and lifestyles.

Dr Devlin stressed the significance of the new guidelines, adding they provide clarity about the effects of alcohol on heart disease and firmly indicate that there is no safe or protective level of alcohol consumption.

To conclude, he offered a clear piece of advice: "If you don’t drink alcohol – don’t start. If you do drink alcohol – it’s better to drink less."

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