Alcohol, its dangers and Heart Attack Prevention.
Takeheart Health Check
Alcohol is a Dangerous Drug
- In a study in Glasgow 34% of people denied drinking any alcohol, 24% drank more than 20 units per week and 5% over 40.(11)
- East Anglian households spend £7.50 on alcohol each week.(129)
- 11% of men in East Anglia drink more than 3.5 pints three times a week.(129)
- 8% of the population are heavy drinkers, 2% are problem drinkers and 0.4% are alcohol dependent.(136)
- Alcohol related sickness and absenteeism costs industry £641 million per year.(158)
- Accidents and poor performance related to alcohol may cost £1.5 billion.(159)
- At least a fifth of all accidents at work are alcohol related.(160)
- The cost of treating alcohol related disease is £167 million per year.(68)
- Alcohol is estimated to cause 28,000 excess deaths per year in England and Wales.(181) 2,000,000 deaths per year worldwide. (484)
- Up to one fifth of admissions to hospital of men are alcohol related.(262)
- At least 27 per cent of men exceed recommended drink limits.
- By the age of 11 years at least 80 per cent of boys have tasted alcohol.
- More than 30 per cent of 13 to 16 year old boys drink at least weekly.
- Brief interventions by GPs are effective (577).
- Where alcohol abuse runs in the family, genetic inheritance contributes a third, and environment two-thirds of the causation.
Gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase (GGT) is an enzyme found in the blood. It is found in excess when the liver is being stressed by alcohol. There are other conditions and some drugs which will cause an abnormal reading, but these are not common in apparently well people.
Takeheart measures the gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase and by that means introduces the subject of alcohol. It appears to be effective in identifying those with a problem though there are a few false positives and negatives which can be explored by question and answer.
There is evidence that moderate amounts of alcohol are good for the heart. (68, 199, 317, 357, 407, 414, 457, 474)
There is also evidence that immoderate drinking is bad for the heart.(29)
The French Paradox
The low rate of coronary heart disease in France compared with other developed countries with comparable dietary intake including saturated fats, especially the United Kingdom, has been called the "French Paradox" (414). It seems to be explained by their high wine intake. Despite the fact that the total annual ethanol intake decreased between 1965 and 1988, the coronary heart disease mortality did not increase, but fell. There was also a fall in deaths from cirrhosis of the liver. The French on average drink far more alcohol than is necessary for maximal cardioprotection. Some people believe that the French paradox does not exist. (472)
It may be explained by the discovery that the potent polyphenols in red grape skins inhibit the production of endothelin-1. This polypeptide causes vaso-constriction which is believed to be a key component in the development of coronary arterial disease. White and rose wines do not produce the same effect.(499)
According to the Sunday Times (23/7/2000 page 23)
The CAGE test questions.
- Proportion of people aged 16-24 who regularly drink twice the recommended daily limit: men 38%, women 21%.
- Proportion of college students admitting drinking to excess regularly: men 61%, women 48%.
- Alcohol consumed by 11-15 year olds in a week: 5.5million units, equivalent to 2.75million pints.
- Alcohol misuse contributes to: 40% of violent crime, 78% of assaults, 88% of criminal damage cases. Some 13,000 violent incidents take place near licensed premises each week.
- The physical cost: alcohol is associated with 30,000 deaths a year, 76,000 hospital cases of facial injury, 65% of suicide attempts and 23% of calls to child neglect helplines.
Two or more "yes" answers indicate alcohol related problems.
- C - "Have you ever felt that you should Cut down on your drinking?"
- A - "Have people Annoyed you by criticising your drinking?"
- G - "Have you ever felt Guilty about your drinking?"
- E - Eye-opener. "Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?"
Quotes from the Sunday Times of 5th October 2008.
In the UK 12,000,000 people with a 'hazardous' alcohol problem; 800,000+ hospitalised annually owing to alcohol consumption; £2.7 billion annual cost to NHS of alcohol related hospital visits; 600,000 underage drinkers; 20,000+ alcohol related deaths a year; £4,500 the cost of a 10 day private rehab programme; 5 rehab places a year on the NHS for every 100 alcoholics; alcohol related hospital admissions rise by 80,000 every year; UK is 7th amongst 45 countries in the amount consumed per capita.
Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England
Try this link - Alcohol wrecked my life.
Need help? Contact Drinkline, a free, confidential helpline on 0800-917-8282.
© G.M.Clayton 1997
GMC Register Number 0147091