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Acute Effects of Alcohol in Patients with Congestive Heart Failure

BARRY H. GREENBERG, M.D.; RONALD SCHUTZ, M.D.; GARY L. GRUNKEMEIER, Ph.D; and HERBERT GRISWOLD, M.D.
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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Barry H. Greenberg, M.D.; Division of Cardiology, 9A 41-UHS, Oregon Health Sciences University; Portland, OR 97201.


Portland, Oregon


© 1982 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1982;97(2):171-175. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-97-2-171
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We evaluated the acute effects of moderate alcohol consumption in eight patients with New York Heart Association Functional Class III-IV congestive heart failure. Hemodynamic and echocardiographic variables were measured at baseline and then repeated at 30-minute intervals after ingestion of alcohol, 0.9 g/kg body weight, in the form of 80 proof vodka. Mean peak blood alcohol levels (±SE) at 60 minutes were 117 ± 8 mg/dL. A significant reduction in mean arterial pressure, pulmonary artery and pulmonary artery wedge pressures, and systemic vascular resistance occurred over the first 90 minutes. Neither cardiac index, stroke volume index, stroke work index, nor echocardiographic variables were significantly changed. In patients with heart failure, a single moderate dose of alcohol reduces afterload by dilating arterial resistance vessels. No evidence of acute deterioration in cardiac performance was seen. In such patients occasional consumption of moderate dose alcohol can be safely tolerated.

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