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A toast of champagne may help the heart, but overindulging could mean trip to ER

From Broward Health

If you are among the many who welcome in the new year with a glass of bubbly, consider this along with the fizz: Two glasses of champagne a day may do wonders for your heart and circulation by improving the way blood vessels function.

According to researchers from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, champagne makes nitric oxide more available in blood vessels, which in turn assists in better regulation of blood pressure and a lower risk of blood clots. The benefit seems to come from polyphenols in the red grapes and white grapes used to make champagne, the study authors explained.

So, instead of waiting for something to celebrate, should you drink champagne every day? It’s hard to say: the long-term effects of drinking champagne, which is a type of wine, aren’t clear, although research has supported moderate consumption of other kinds of wine, the researchers noted.

“We always encourage a responsible approach to alcohol consumption, but the fact that drinking champagne has the potential to reduce the risks of suffering from cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, is very exciting news,” Jeremy Spencer, a professor of molecular nutrition at the University of Reading department of food and nutritional sciences, said in a university news release.

As a physician who has specialized in emergency medicine for more than 10 years, Dr. Scott Meyer has seen his share of the effects of excessive drinking on New Year’s Eve at hospitals.  He serves as the medical director, emergency department at Imperial Point Medical Center, in Fort Lauderdale.

“When it comes to partying, New Year’s Eve ranks near the top for people drinking alcohol more than they should,” Dr. Meyer stated. The consequences run the gamut from miserable hangovers to more serious and sometimes deadly incidents.

As it turns out, New Year’s Day may well be the busiest day of the year at the Hospital’s Emergency Department when people are looking for relief from headaches, nausea, vomiting and upset stomachs because they drank too much the night before. Other visits to the ER are to mend broken ankles and other injuries sustained from nasty falls attributed to loss of balance, one of the effects of being intoxicated.

“A trip to the ER can be avoided simply by saying ‘no’ to having that next drink and making sure you have a plan for getting home safely if you over indulge.”

He noted that one of the pitfalls of excessive drinking—especially for young people— is a sense of euphoria that tricks the person into thinking that this good feeling will be sustained if they continue drinking. “There is a lag time when the reveler does not feel impacted by the drinking but that quickly changes.  The warning signs that you are crossing over into a dangerous zone are slurred speech, poor coordination and lack of judgment.”

Alcoholic poisoning can lead to death. “When the individual passes out and is unconscious, breathing can stop. Or they can asphyxiate on their own vomit,” Dr. Meyer stated.

“A little self discipline never hurts when it comes to alcoholic consumption,” Dr. Meyer added. But so is remaining safe from harm after the party is over. “Don’t count on your friends to help assure you will begin the new year in one piece as they may not be in any condition to look after you,” he stated.

“Alcohol is a drug that impairs judgment. Among other things, one cannot drive in this condition. Nor cross a busy intersection or walk up a flight of steps unassisted. That’s why you need to have someone you can absolutely trust who will make sure you get home OK,” Dr. Meyer noted.

There is some good news about drinking and New Year’s Eve. In recent years, Dr. Meyer has seen a decline in ER admissions for auto accidents and fatalities caused by DWI, a testimonial to the effectiveness of public education and law enforcement. “New Year’s Eve at Imperial Point Medical Center’s ER is like any other night these days. Our wish is that it remains that way. Please drink responsibly and avoid a needless visit to our ER.”

The findings on drinking champagne regularly were published online and will appear in an upcoming print issue of the British Journal of Nutrition.

More information

Learn more about wine and heart health from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCE: University of Reading, U.K., news release, Dec. 14, 2009

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Posted by Andrea Freygang on Dec 31 2009. Filed under Broward County, Fire/police, Health, Holiday, Local news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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