Turning to drink can help men live longer after a first heart attack, a study has shown.
Two alcoholic drinks a day over a long period gave attack survivors a 42pc lower risk of dying from heart disease than non-drinkers, researchers found. Their risk of death from any cause was reduced by 14pc.
But the benefits were seen only with "moderate" drinking. Higher consumption wiped out the survival gains and increased the chances of dying so they matched those of non-drinkers.
The findings are broadly in line with evidence that controlled drinking levels can protect the heart and arteries.
Researchers in the US monitored the progress of 1,818 men for up to 20 years after they had survived a first heart attack between 1986 and 2006.
Those who consumed between 10 and 29.9 grams of alcohol a day -- the equivalent of two 125ml glasses of wine, two bottles or cans of beer, or a shot of spirits -- were classified as "moderate" drinkers.
Study leader Dr Jennifer Pai, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, said: "Our findings clearly demonstrate that long-term moderate alcohol consumption among men who survived a heart attack was associated with a reduced risk of total and cardiovascular mortality."
However, she warned the adverse health effects of heavy drinking include high blood pressure, reduced heart function and reduced ability to break down blood clots. Any benefits from light drinking were entirely eliminated after episodes of binge drinking.