Beer And Blood Clots

2012 Health Benefits of Beer

Beer and Blood Clots

Blood clotting is a vital process that enables the body to repair damaged blood vessels. When an injury occurs, the red blood platelets cluster together at the site and also release chemicals which stimulate the protein ‘Fibrinogen’. Together, the platelets and fibrinogen form a plug that prevents further blood loss. Studies have shown a positive link between beer and blood clots.

Normally a blood clot (also known as thrombus) gets broken down naturally in the body. However, there are times when a thrombus forms in the absence of an injury and travels through the body in the blood stream, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

Blood clots in the arteries of the heart muscle obstruct the blood flow which may result in heart attacks. When clots occur in the veins it results in conditions such as pulmonary embolism (lung clots) and deep vein thrombosis in the limbs. Clotting has also been linked to frequent miscarriages in women as pregnancy increase the likelihood of clot formation. Certain compounds in beer affect fibrinogen by reducing its ability to cause clotting.

Studies carried out on post-operative patients of heart by-pass surgery found that a moderate amount of lager consumed daily for one month reduced the levels of fibrinogen. Additionally, the fibrinogens were altered such that they were less capable of forming clots.

Another compound associated with blood clots is the amino acid ‘Homocysteine’. Amino acids are naturally occurring elements needed for the manufacturing body proteins. Homocysteine is usually obtained from dietary meat. Very high levels of homocysteine raise the risk of excess clots in the arteries.

Studies have also shown that homocysteine increases with moderate consumption of red wine and spirits, but not with beer. The vitamin B6 in beer is believed to diminish the risk of alcohol-induced excess homocysteine levels.

The benefits of beer and blood clots are also tied to lifestyle factors. Homocysteine levels are elevated with poor eating habits and among heavy drinkers. Smokers are also at a higher risk because cigarettes increase the chance of blood platelets clumping together and of damaging blood vessels, which makes them more prone to clots. Not drinking enough water leads to dehydration which thickens the blood and narrows the blood vessels, and both conditions increase the chance of clots forming.

Research shows that the darker beers have a higher benefit on blood clots than lighter ones. Scientific studies compared drinking of Heineken versus Guinness Stout showed the latter was more effective at minimising the type of blood clotting that frequently leads to heart attacks.

Other medical conditions that also exhibit excessive blood clotting. For instance the autoimmune disorder called APS in which the body produces antibodies that attack the fats that form all cells and blood vessels. These same antibodies also trigger excess blood clotting in the veins and arteries. Certain bone marrow diseases display symptoms of excess blood clots.

The benefits of beer and blood clots will only happen with the moderate consumption of two beers a day (only one for women). Moderate beer drinking can help reduce the risk of blood clots and heart disease by up to 20%. However, one must also pursue an overall healthy lifestyle of regular exercise, well balanced meals, plenty of water and no smoking.