Relation of Patient's Opinion of Alcohol's Health Effects and Drinking Habits Among Hospitalized Patients With Cardiovascular Disease

      Media reports frequently cite observational studies and meta-analyses to promote the reputed cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol consumption; however, it is unclear whether public opinion or drinking behavior align with these reports. We administered an anonymous, single-center, 35-question, cross-sectional survey among patients hospitalized for acute cardiac illnesses from June to September 2019, who were eligible for cardiac rehabilitation. We assessed patient opinions toward alcohol use, perceptions of alcohol's health impact, and role of media in forming these beliefs. We hypothesized that drinking habits are associated with beliefs about the health benefits of alcohol consumption. Of 300 patients approached, 290 completed the survey (97%). Most (69%) reported having heard moderate alcohol use is heart healthy from 1 or more sources including: TV (61%), family/friends (33%), newspapers (21%), and the internet (10%); although, only 19% reported believing these reports. In total, 12 patients (4%) reported intentionally increasing alcohol intake because of the reported beneficial health effects. There was a strong association between binge drinking and increasing alcohol used to improve cardiac health (odds ratio 8.8, 95% confidence interval 2.7, 29). Given the known cardiotoxic effects of alcohol, particularly in large doses, strategies aimed at population-based education regarding the unhealthy cardiovascular impact of alcohol use is needed, especially among binge drinkers.
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