Background: Several epidemiological studies have found U- or J-shaped relationships between alcohol intake and cardiovascular conditions. The influence of heavy drinking is, however, sparsely studied. The objective of the present study was to examine whether alcohol addicts have higher incidence rates of cardio- and cerebrovascular diseases than the population in general.
Methods: The cohort comprised 19,185 subjects (15,368 men and 3,817 women) who attended outpatient clinics for alcohol abusers within the Copenhagen Hospital Corporation (1954 to 1992). Incidence rates were standardized (SIR) according to sex, age and calendar time to compare subjects’ cardio- and cerebrovascular incidence with that of the general population of Copenhagen.
Results: During the period 1977 to 2001 a total of 9,397 events of cardio- and cerebrovascular disease were observed. In both men and women, statistically significant higher incidence rates than would be expected in a standard population were observed for cardiovascular diseases (e.g., ischemic heart diseases, men: SIR = 1.76; 95% CI 1.69–1.83; women: SIR = 2.44; 95% CI 2.19–2.73) and cerebrovascular diseases (e.g., hemorrhagic stroke, men: SIR = 2.71; 95% CI 2.45–2.99; women: SIR = 2.77; 95% CI 2.18–3.48).
Conclusions: The study indicates increased risks of cardio- and cerebrovascular diseases in subjects with an excessive alcohol intake.