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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999 Apr;47(4):396-401.

Alcohol consumption is negatively associated with the prevalence of coronary heart disease in the New Mexico Elder Health Survey.

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Department of Medicine, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, USA.



To compare the prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD) and the effects of various risk factors, including alcohol consumption, on prevalence rates in a randomly selected sample of older Hispanic and non-Hispanic white (NHW) men and women.


A cross-sectional study of equal numbers of Hispanic and NHW men and women, selected randomly from Health Care Financing Authority (Medicare) rolls, recruited for a home interview followed by a 4-hour interview/examination in a senior health clinic.


A total of 883 volunteers, mean age 74.1, years were interviewed/examined.


CHD was identified by interview and electrocardiogram. Risk factors were identified by interview (hypertension, diabetes, medications, smoking, alcohol consumption) and by direct measurements (glucose tolerance, serum lipids, blood pressure, anthropometry).


The age-adjusted prevalences of CHD were not significantly different when Hispanic men and women were compared with their NHW counterparts. Age-, ethnicity-, and gender-adjusted relative risk of CHD was inversely associated with alcohol consumption (OR .46; 95% CI, .28-.73; P < .001). Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and male gender were also significant risk factors; age, anthropometric measurements, smoking, serum lipid concentrations, and level of education were not. HDL cholesterol levels were significantly lower in nondrinkers; other lipid levels were not associated with alcohol consumption. The type of alcoholic beverage was not associated with the prevalence of CHD.


No significant differences in CHD prevalence existed between Hispanic and NHW participants despite a higher prevalence of diabetes and central obesity in Hispanics. Alcohol consumption was strongly negatively associated with the prevalence of CHD identified in this older, biethnic population.

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