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Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2000 May;21(5):385-90.

Potential mechanisms for cardiovascular protective effect of ethanol.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, Box SURG, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642-8410, USA. eileen_redmond@urmc.rochester.edu


Epidemiological studies demonstrate a significant protective effect of moderate alcohol consumption on the incidence of cardiovascular diseases which accounts for the majority of deaths in the Western world. In this review, possible mechanisms to explain the cardioprotective effect of ethanol are discussed. While the prevailing theory supported by a number of clinical and animal studies indicates that the ability of ethanol to elevate serum high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels is an important mechanism in ameliorating cardiovascular disease, other mechanisms whereby ethanol could exert its beneficial effect have been proposed. Namely, its ability to affect platelet function and endothelial cell and vascular smooth muscle cell function (In this review, the terms alcohol and ethanol are used interchangeably).

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