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Alcohol Affects Left, Right Heart Chambers Differently

Alcohol Affects Left, Right Heart Chambers Differently

07/15/11

FRIDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- The left and right ventricles of the heart have very different reactions to small amounts of alcohol, a new study finds.

Researchers in Italy examined 64 healthy volunteers in their 20s after they drank a small amount of red wine and an equal amount of fruit juice.

After drinking the wine, participants' left ventricular function decreased, according to the findings. The left ventricle receives oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium of the heart and pumps it into the aorta, or the main artery of the body, which supplies tissues with oxygen.

But in the right ventricle, the wine led to an increase in function. The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs through the pulmonary arteries, so it can be refreshed with oxygen again before going to the left ventricle.

The two chambers of the heart "are like two different worlds," said corresponding author Matteo Cameli, a cardiologist at Italy's Cardiologia Universitaria of Siena, in a university news release.

"Little data exist regarding the acute effects of alcohol on the heart," Cameli said. "Previous studies have reported a reduction in [left ventricular] performance after an assumption of moderate or high doses of alcohol, but the effects of low doses are still unknown."

The possible toxic effects of low doses of alcohol on the heart are important given that light drinking is so common, he added.

The study's findings will be published in the October 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

More information

The American Heart Association provides more information on alcohol and heart disease.

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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