-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
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
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
"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
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
The American Heart Association provides more information on
alcohol and heart disease.
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