(HealthDay News) — For older adults with heart failure, limited alcohol consumption after diagnosis is associated with survival benefit versus long-term abstinence, according to a study published online in JAMA Network Open.

Justin S. Sadhu, MD, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 5,888 community-dwelling adults aged 65 years or older recruited from June 12, 1989, to June 1993. A total of 393 individuals had a new diagnosis of heart failure within the first 9 years of follow-up.

The researchers found that 32.8% of participants reported alcohol consumption after diagnosis. Compared with abstinence from alcohol, consumption of 7 or fewer alcoholic drinks per week correlated with additional mean survival of 383 days after adjustment for other factors. There was a significant inverted U-shaped association noted for alcohol consumption and survival. The mean time from heart failure diagnosis to death was 2640, 3046, and 2806 days for never drinkers, consumers of 0 to 7 drinks per week, and consumers of more than 7 drinks per week, respectively. The longest survival was seen for those consuming 10 drinks per week (mean, 3381 days after heart failure diagnosis).

“Given the possibility of health benefits with limited alcohol consumption following this diagnosis, further efforts to determine optimal levels of alcohol consumption in adults with heart failure and whether this differs by age, sex, left ventricular ejection fraction, or cause of heart failure are warranted,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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Sadhu JS, Novak E, Mukamal KJ, et al. Association of Alcohol Consumption After Development of Heart Failure With Survival Among Older Adults in the Cardiovascular Health Study. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(8):e186383. DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.6383