Compared to men, women drink less and experience less alcohol-related medical problems , However, one third of all alcoholics in the United States are women , Over the last two decades, there is no evidence of any major increase in total alcohol consumption by women, however there has been an important change in the drinking patterns and prevalence of alcohol usage among women [7J. With regard to drinking patterns, younger women report frequent heavy drinking and frequent bouts of intoxication , In addition, alcohol usage has increased among women who are employed full-time in nontraditional settings and among those who are unemployed and divorced , This is of concern, because of the increase in the number of women in the work force as well as the number of women who are unemployed and divorced. Therefore, in the future, more women may experience alcohol-related medical problems.
In the United States, long-term excessive alcohol consumption (of any beverage type) in both sexes and in all races, is the leading cause of a nonischemic, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) , AHMD represents about 3.8% of all cardiomyopathy cases and women represent approximately 14% of these cases , In all races, death rates due to AHMD are greater for men compared to women. Death rates for African-American women with AHMD are two-fold greater than Caucasion women with AHMD .
In men, the prevalence of AHMD is variable and in selected patient populations ranges from 37% to 40% [11,12], The prevalence of AHMD in women is lower, but is also variable depending on the setting and population sampled. For example, Fernandez-Sola et al. found the prevalence of AHMD in women was 0.43% (3/702) in an out-patient setting , Gavazzi et al. found that in 113 women with dilated cardiomyopathy, only one was an alcohol abuser , In a larger case-control study, McKenna et al. found that in women with dilated cardiomyopathy, 11% of the cases were due to long-term alcohol consumption, however 10% of the randomly selected healthy control group were also alcohol abusers , These latter results suggest that in some ethnic populations, alcohol may be a contributing or aggravating factor rather than a primary cause of DCM.
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