Moderate Wine Intake Neither Hurts or Helps in Heart Failure

August 29, 2011

August 29, 2011 (Paris, France) — It's no secret that drinking red wine in modest amounts improves some measures of cardiovascular health, and there's evidence it may actually improve survival in some populations with heart disease. But a post hoc analysis based on a large heart-failure-trial cohort finds no sign that wine drinking had an effect, in either direction, on mortality or HF hospitalizations [1]. Still, imbibing moderately improved some measures of systemic inflammation and, presumably, quality of life--although the latter wasn't measured in the study.

Taking advantage of lab-test results from their large cohort of patients with chronic heart failure living in one of the world's red-wine hubs, investigators from the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell'Infarto Miocardico--Heart Failure (GISSI-HF) found that greater wine intake was associated with lower levels of fibrinogen (p<0.0001) and the inflammatory markers pentraxin 3 (p<0.05) and osteoprotegerin (p=0.0002), although no such pattern was observed for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) or white-blood-cell count.

Nor, in the GISSI-HF cohort of 1229 patients with such lab data, was wine-intake level related to levels of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), a marker of HF severity, or blood glucose, reported Dr Roberto Latini (Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Milan, Italy) here at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2011 Congress.

Those patients were part of a larger population of 6973 GISSI-HF patients who filled out dietary questionnaires at randomization and showed the lack of association between wine intake and outcomes over a mean follow-up of 3.9 years.

Adjusted* Hazard Ratios (95% CI) for Clinical Outcomes by Wine-Intake Levels vs No Wine Consumption (N=2461) in GISSI-HF

End point "Sometimes" drink wine, n=1325 1–2 glasses/day, n=2570 >3 glasses/day, n=617
All-cause mortality 0.91 (0.80–1.03) 0.96 (0.86–1.07) 0.91 (0.76–1.09)
Worsening HF 1.05 (0.92–1.19) 1.08 (0.97–1.21) 1.00 (0.84–1.20)

*Adjusted for age, HF severity, medications

Overall, the findings, Latini told heartwire , mean at the very least that patients with heart failure can safely drink wine in moderation. But he cautions that they may not necessarily apply outside Italy. He said perhaps two-thirds of wine drinking by Italians in the GISSI-HF age demographic is of red wine, which is customarily consumed at meals.

"Now among the younger generations, it's like it is in the United States, where they drink a glass of wine before meals or a show," not necessarily with food, he noted. "So possibly, I wouldn't be surprised if the results would be different in another cohort of patients, in northern Europe, for example. It's something that should be validated in different contexts; I wouldn't generalize these results."

The primary GISSI-HF trial was funded the Societa Prodotti Antibiotici, Pfizer, Sigma Tau, and AstraZeneca. Latini had no disclosures; his report stated that the current post hoc analysis "was performed without specific funding from companies, in particular wine-producers' or wine-drinkers' associations."

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