Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Why Alcohol May Help Hearts

Alcohol May Act as a Blood Thinner, Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 13, 2005 -- Alcohol may lower the risk of heart disease by acting as a blood thinner, a new study shows.

But the news isn't totally rosy. Blood thinning could raise the risk of bleeding-type strokes, the researchers note.

So should you drink or not? The study doesn't issue a verdict. It focused on the science of how moderate drinking may affect the heart.

"The findings" should not be used by people as any reason to begin drinking," researcher Kenneth Mukamal, MD, MPH, MA, says in a news release.

Mukamal works at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His study appears in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Sticky Situation

The researchers concentrated on blood platelets. Those are small cell fragments in your blood. They're made in the bone marrow, and their job is to help blood clot.

That's a great thing when you have a skin cut. But you don't want a blood clot in an artery because that could block blood flow and cause a heart attack.

Platelets aren't lone rangers. They cluster together to do their work. Platelet "stickiness" and activation were topics for Mukamal's team.

Alcohol Study

Mukamal's study included about 3,000 adults who didn't have heart disease. They were the children of participants from the Framingham Heart Study.

Participants gave blood samples in 1991 and 1994 as part of the Framingham Offspring Study, which began in the early 1970s. They were also surveyed about their drinking habits, smoking status, physical activity, and other health problems (such as high blood pressure and diabetes).

Participants were asked how often and how much they drank of wine, beer, and liquor. Beer was the most common drink for men; wine was women's most common drink.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure