Alcohol Consumption and Coronary Calcification in a General Population | Cardiology | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network
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Original Investigation
November 22, 2004

Alcohol Consumption and Coronary Calcification in a General Population

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, (Drs Vliegenthart, Oei, Hofman, and Witteman and Mr van Rooij); Department of Radiology, University Hospital Groningen, Groningen, (Drs Vliegenthart, Oei, and Oudkerk); and Department of Radiology, Daniel den Hoed Clinic, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam (Dr Oudkerk), the Netherlands.

Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(21):2355-2360. doi:10.1001/archinte.164.21.2355

Background  A U- or J-shaped association exists between alcohol consumption and coronary heart disease. One of the proposed mechanisms for this association involves atherogenesis, but there are no data on the association between alcohol consumption and coronary atherosclerosis in asymptomatic subjects. Coronary calcification, a measure of coronary atherosclerosis, allows for the study of the association.

Methods  This cross-sectional study was performed using data from the population-based Rotterdam Coronary Calcification Study. Data on alcohol consumption were available for 1795 individuals without coronary heart disease. Mean ± SD age of the participants was 71 ± 5.7 years. Coronary calcification was detected on electron beam computed tomographic scans and quantified as a calcium score by the Agatston method. Extensive coronary calcification was defined as a calcium score above 400.

Results  In this population, 15.8% of individuals consumed no alcohol; 46.5% consumed 1 alcoholic drink or less per day; 16.9% consumed 1 to 2 drinks per day; and 20.9% consumed more than 2 drinks per day. A U-shaped association was found between alcohol consumption and coronary calcification. Compared with nondrinkers, the odds ratio of extensive coronary calcification was 0.60 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.44-0.82) for those who consumed 1 drink or less daily; 0.51 (95% CI, 0.35-0.76) for those who consumed 1 to 2 drinks daily; and 0.90 (95% CI, 0.62-1.29) for those who consumed more than 2 drinks. The association remained after multivariate adjustment.

Conclusions  The consumption of 2 alcoholic drinks or fewer per day was inversely associated with extensive coronary calcification. The risk of extensive coronary calcification was 50% lower in individuals who consumed 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks per day than in nondrinkers.