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Antiatherogenic Potential Of Red Wine: Clinician Update

Paul E. Szmitko, Subodh Verma

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Complications of atherosclerosis remain the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in industrialized countries. Epidemiological studies have repeatedly demonstrated that moderate alcohol intake has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this review is to examine the epidemiological and biological evidence supporting the intake of red wine as a means of reducing atherosclerosis. On the basis of epidemiological studies, moderate intake of alcoholic beverages, including red wine, reduces the risk of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular disease in populations. In addition to the favorable biological effects of alcohol on the lipid profile, on hemostatic factors, and in reducing insulin resistance, the phenolic compounds in red wine appear to interfere with the molecular processes underlying the initiation, progression, and rupture of atherosclerotic plaques. Whether red wine is more beneficial than other types of alcohol remains unclear. Definitive data from a large-scale, randomized clinical end-point trial of red wine intake would be required before physicians can advise patients to use wine as part of preventative or medical therapies.