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Stirred, Not Shaken

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA
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Wayne State University; Detroit, MI 48201

Requests for Single Reprints: Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, Division of Cardiology, Harper Hospital, 3990 John R Street, Detroit, MI 48201; e-mail, jwynne@dmc.org.

Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(3):247-249. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-136-3-200202050-00013
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The effect of alcohol on the cardiovascular system has been studied and debated for over 150 years (1), but a specific cardiomyopathy related to excessive alcohol consumption has been recognized only for the past half century (2). The putative effect of alcohol on the heart has been clouded and confounded by cardiovascular damage due to simultaneous nutritional deficiency as a consequence of beriberi, the toxic effects of additives such as cobalt, and the lack of a good large-animal model of alcoholic cardiomyopathy (3). We now know that alcohol can directly affect the cardiovascular system, but the precise mechanism of damage remains controversial (45). Two studies in this issue (67) add to our understanding of this association. While they may raise almost as many questions as they answer, taken together they can be stirred into our understanding of alcohol's effects on the heart without fundamentally shaking the foundations of our knowledge.

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