Alcohol Reduces Damage After Heart Attack

In moderation, it helps keep tissue slick and clear, study finds

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FRIDAY, Sept. 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Drinking any kind of alcohol in moderation can reduce damage to affected tissue after a heart attack, says a University of Missouri-Columbia study.

A heart attack results in reduced blood flow to a number of areas of the body. Once blood flow is restored, several processes take place that can actually cause more harm to damaged tissue.

"Following a heart attack, physicians try to establish reperfusion, or normalize the blood flow in the body," study author Ron Korthuis, distinguished professor and chairman of medical pharmacology and physiology, said in a prepared statement.

"The damaged tissues begin releasing a variety of molecules that attract the white blood cells to the damaged areas. When the white blood cells arrive, they attach to the adhesion molecules on the blood vessel walls and then start destroying the damaged tissue. One type of adhesion molecule that is affected by alcohol ingestion is P-selectin," Korthuis said.

In research with animals, he found alcohol triggers a chemical reaction that makes the artery walls slick and prevents white blood cells from attaching to damaged tissue.

"We're trying to identify these chemical reactions so that we can develop a drug that would start this chain reaction, but not have the side effects of alcohol, Korthuis said.

The study will appear in the fall issue of Microcirculation.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart attack.

SOURCE: University of Missouri-Columbia, news release, September 2004

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