Preclinical abnormalities of left ventricular function are frequently found in chronic alcoholics. In 12 chronic alcoholics without cardiomyopathy and in 12 healthy controls, systolic time intervals and echocardiograms were investigated before and after 12 months of abstinence from alcohol. In chronic alcoholics, an increase was found in the PEP/LVET ratio (0.31 ± 0.06; in controls 0.24 ± 0.05; t = 3.11; p < 0.005), the diastolic interventricular septal thickness (6.0 ± 2.0 mm/m2; in controls 4.1 ± 1.0; t = 2.95; p < 0.01), the left ventricular wall thickness (6.3 ± 1.0 mm/m2; in controls 4.9 ± 1.0; t = 3.43; p < 0.005) and the left ventricular diastolic dimension (29 ± 4 mm/m2; in controls 26 ± 3; t = 2.08;p < 0.05). The left ventricular mass (135 ± 33 g/m2; in controls 113 ± 40; t= 1.47) did not differ from the controls. After 12 months of abstinence a significant decrease was found in the PEP/LVET ratio (0.26 ± 0.05, i.e. -16%; t = 3.59; p < 0.005), the diastolic interventricular septal thickness (4.7 ± 0.9 mm/m2, i.e. -22%; t = 2.73; p < 0.02), the left ventricular posterior wall thickness (5.6 ± 1.0 mm/m2, i.e. -11 %; t = 4.08; p < 0.001) and the left ventricular mass (109 ± 24 g/m2, i.e. -21 %; t = 6.53; p < 0.001). The left ventricular diastolic dimension (27 ± 2 mm/m2, i.e. -7%; t = 1.3) did not change. In conclusion, in chronic alcoholics, the abstinence from alcohol can be followed by an improvement of left ventricular function.

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